Gen Y Dogma: 3 Things We’d Do Differently The Second Time Around
Finding her puppy Matilda was fate, but if she had to do it all over again, there are a few things that Christian Peden would do a bit differently
They say hindsight is 20/20 and well, I guess I’d have to agree. It’s been 6 months since my boyfriend Ryan and I brought our Border Collie/Lab mix Matilda home. Looking back, there are definitely some things we would do differently if we could magically go back in time to when we first got her. Here’s our list with a little bit of wisdom (I hope!) mixed in to keep in mind if you’re thinking about adopting a dog.
Our getting Matilda ended up being spur of the moment in a lot of ways. If you’ve read my first column, you’ll know that we picked up our girl from a farm a couple hours north of the city. We saw an ad for free farm puppies and jumped at the chance –literally. We got in touch with the farmer’s wife on a Saturday night and brought little 8-week old Matilda home the next day.
Mind you, this was after we’d be looking for rescue dogs and meeting them at the shelter and not having any luck with the right match. We knew we wanted a dog, so that part wasn’t spur of the moment, but still, things moved really quickly with Matilda. We really had nothing prepared; we bought puppy food and pee pads on the way to the farm the day we picked her up!
Don’t get me wrong –Matilda is my baby girl and I wouldn’t change anything now that she’s ours. But if I was talking to a couple who was thinking about a adopting a dog? I’d definitely tell them to be more patient than we (okay, I) was. The right dog for you is out there. I know it can be heartbreaking to go to the shelter and not find a dog who is the right fit. Keep looking, but don’t rush. You want make sure your dog’s breed and personal quirks will be a good match for you as a couple.
I know I sound like a broken record, but when you’re thinking about getting a dog, I can’t stress enough how important it is to do your breed research. Like I said before, I wouldn’t change a thing now that we have Matilda. Even if I could go back in time, I absolutely, 100% would adopt her all over again. That said, we really didn’t know what we were getting into with a Border Collie.
For those who don’t know, Border Collies have an insane amount of energy and are super smart (too smart for the own good sometimes!). And if you’ve got a big backyard for them to run around in, you’re golden. If you’re like us and live in a big city with no backyard? Be prepared to get lots of exercise. Matilda and I go for a run in the morning, and she goes to the dog park in the afternoon or evening –you’ve gotta get the crazy out somehow!
If you live in the city, consider adopting a breed that is a little less high energy or at least be prepared for the fact that you’re going to be getting a ton of exercise, sometimes in pretty unpleasant weather.
Get Your Puppy Into Training, ASAP!
Most dog trainers won’t take your puppy on until they’ve been fully vaccinated, which usually happens around the 16-week mark. If you get an adult rescue and they have some behavioral issues, I also recommend not hesitating on the training part. It really helps to get some professional advice, and sometimes a group puppy class or a few private sessions is all it takes to get things on track for you and your dog.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but as of this writing, Matilda still hasn’t been to obedience class. She’s a great dog with a wonderful disposition, but she has the typical puppyish problems –pulling on the leash, jumping on people when she’s excited and (cringe) she’s not fully housetrained. (That’s the really embarrassing one.)
We live in an apartment with no outdoor space, and we haven’t figured out a way to teach Matilda to let us know when she needs to do her business. I’m sure it would a lot easier with a backyard and a backdoor she scratch on, and while moving isn’t out of the question, it’s not in the cards right now. She uses puppy training pads like a pro, but now that she’s getting bigger, it’s increasingly difficult (and stinky and gross) to clean up after her.
We do have a plan now, though. After she recovers from her spay, which happened just this week, we’ll be working with a trainer and the girls from our local dog walking service to get everything sorted and on track. But really, don’t wait like we did. It’s so much easier to nip these things in the bud in the beginning!
What about you? Is there anything you’d add to this list? What would you do differently with next dog?
Christina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada’s all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city’s numerous parks or curled up with a good book.