Gen Y Dogma: 5 Eye-Opening Lessons Learned During Our Crash Course In Puppy Parenthood
Your puppy comes home, you’ve explored every inch of her adorable body, rubbing her belly and ears, taking pictures and posting them on Facebook for everyone to fawn over. But how soon does that new puppy cuteness wear off and pet parenthood set in? Christina Peden catches on pretty quick that the demands of puppies can take away from how delightfully deceiving they look (that’s how they fool you, crafty little buggers!).
At the end of my last column, I told you that our lives were never the same after the day we got Matilda. For better or for worse (but mostly for the better), puppy parenthood changes your lives in ways both expected and not. I want to talk about the things Ryan and I learned almost immediately upon bringing Matilda home and share a few tips that I hope you’ll find helpful.
1. Puppy teeth are SHARP!
It might sound silly, but neither Ryan nor I truly realized this before we got Matilda, and let me tell you: it was a painful lesson. If you’ve ever had a cat, imagine him or her having a mouth full of claws, because that’s exactly how puppy teeth feel! And FYI, puppies like to play-bite, and it can take a while to break them of that habit. Until then, be prepared for the fact yours hands and forearms (and your partner’s) will often give others the notion that you have, quite literally, been in a cat fight. By the way, your puppy doesn’t even have to bite to draw blood. One graze from a puppy tooth is all it takes. Yes, they really are that that sharp.
2. New puppies need constant supervision
Unless your puppy is in their crate, you can rest assured that if you’re not watching them, they’re probably up to no good. Ryan and I still worry when Matilda’s not in the room and we can’t hear her. It usually means she’s upstairs chewing something she shouldn’t be or trying to get into the cat litter box for a “snack” (gross!) or… god knows what else. Silence is never a good thing with a puppy in the house! And if you think you can catch some ZZZ’s while your pup is awake? Think again! Not only will your puppy be jumping on your face, slathering you in kisses and trying to get you to play, but they’ll also probably be trying to chew your furniture or footwear to bits. We’ve lost a few pairs of shoes by failing to put them away or close the closet door. If you’re a shoeaholic like me, don’t make the same mistake: PUT THE SHOES AWAY.
3. Say goodbye to sleeping
The first month or so that we had Matilda, she wouldn’t sleep past 6:00AM. EVER. Ryan works from home and I was on the job hunt for that first month, so thankfully we were both home. But the puppy, being an early riser, meant that we had to take the mornings in shifts. One of us would get up with her at 5:30 or 6:00 (or whatever ungodly hour she happened to wake up at) and stay up until about 10:30, when the other person would take over. We were tired ALL. THE. TIME. Believe me; the first day Matilda let us both sleep until 8:00AM was pretty much the greatest day ever. Now, she’ll usually sleep as long as we do, so it gets better (I promise!).
4. You will start to become immune to (formerly) gross bodily fluids
I’ll be honest: I had picked up dog poo maybe once in my life before getting Matilda. When I was little and we had a family dog, we usually walked him with my parents, so I never had the ‘pleasure’ of being a human pooper-scooper. Once you’re raising a puppy, this stuff becomes par for the course, along with accidents, while they learn to use a pee pad and eventually go to the bathroom outside. After your puppy has peed on your bed, carpet, pile of laundry and possibly you, you’ll pretty much be immune to whatever pee, poop, vomit, drool or snot situation you might encounter. (Okay, okay — sometimes the smell of Matilda’s poop still makes us want to hurl, but you kind of get used to it.)
5. You’ll feel like a proud parent (whenever they learn something new)
The first time Ryan sent me a video at work of tiny Matilda fetching a toy and running back to him, my heart melted; I smiled so wide, and felt a swell of pride in my chest. My baby was growing up so fast! You’ll begin to get a glimpse of what parents to human (and not fur) babies feel when their little one says their first word or starts to crawl or whatever. It’s so exciting whenever they learn something new and that feeling really doesn’t dissipate with time.
What was the biggest lesson we learned out of all this? Teamwork. As cute as a new puppy can be, they are a ton of work. And if you and your partner aren’t doing that work together, it’s going to be a long, hard road. Make sure you’re both fully on board and prepared for the realities of dog ownership before you add a puppy to the mix.
You’re probably thinking this stuff sounds pretty similar to having a new baby, right? Well, from what we’ve heard from people with children, there actually are quite a few similarities. That’s exactly what I’ll discuss next week — how having a puppy is like having a baby (and how it’s not) and why puppy parenthood is a good step along the way to, you know, actual parenthood.
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.