When I am standing outside in the freezing cold of a December morning, complete in boots and dressing gown, encouraging our new puppy to relieve itself in the garden; My thoughts are:
“I must have been mad wanting another puppy dog.”
We had lost Lucy, our faithful companion of 14 yrs in the summer, and vowed there would be no more dogs. The peace from the barks, the freedom being able to get out more; holidays without dog care to think about. The never ending vet bills. But here I was with the latest arrival of six weeks and a few days doing all the puppy bit again.
For those of you who are dog owners there will be sympathy and understanding as to why we decided to have another. We love dogs and their faithful companionship and un-conditional love. We simply missed having a dog around. When we lost Lucy we sobbed on the carpet, as we cradled her head as she was put peacefully to sleep at home. It was a private but definite grief and it had all the emotion of loosing a fellow human being: our family member.
The purpose of this blog though is to remind those thinking about purchasing a dog, especially a puppy, the reality of care that is required and the commitment that is involved. Puppies are definitely not for little children as a present for Christmas; unless the parent is prepared that by the time the day is out, the child will have passed it over to you. This is a life-long commitment
No wonder then that by Boxing day, with all the stress of food preparation, entertainment, relatives and busyness the patience is beginning to wear extremely thin as the dog pees and chews its way through the day. I have been reminded of a few realities myself.
First, the swimming pool kitchen in the early morning. No layins for me now when not at work. The howling for the first few days at night, as they miss their mum and sibling pups. The endless rounds of newspaper needed and the 20 minutes toileting without fail, if you don’t want the swimming pool or the poo pile. Then they roll in the garden mud and have to have a mini bath. The carpet takes a bashing and the endless cleaner comes out, complete with throwover for the settee and plastic for the carpet.
Then there is the mini dash to the shops as you can’t leave your dog too alone to begin with unless you want the kitchen chewed up in the mean time- or the distress of knowing you have left them howling. Chew spray is a good deterrent. My hands are scratched with the teeth. Pups particularly like to chew your arm off, they see that arm as their prey. The entertaining is of course necessary. Pups like to play, have attention and toys to squeak, balls to chew.
Forget the house work and the computer for a few days, at least until you get into a routine. All the family must be committed to lend a hand. For the first couple of weeks it is nackering work. BUT in all this time you are bonding and they with you in this new relationship. You laugh when they bark for the first time and look all so surprised. When they respond to their name, this is a new milestone. And when they do ask to go outside to the loo, you know that sanity and less swilling out may just be around the corner.
Once vaccinations are completed at 10 weeks( a mere£50.00!), and they can walk on a lead, (a week after their second course.)This does definitely help as you can tire them out more and re-enforce the toileting routine. If you can stand all of this for a few more months, eventually the dog should calm down- but not always, You will then have an enjoyable pet if trained correctly. On saying that, I understand the chocolate variety of Labrador is a bit scatty and barmy. We are lucky we choose the ivory coloured one of the Labrador breed and she is a good girl most of the time.
Personally for me my view is someone should be around for quite a bit of the time, unless you have two dogs who are company for each other, or have a dog walker. No adult dog likes to be left so very long but will adapt well if they know you are coming back and its not left for many, many hours. Dogs make great guard dogs and help lift a lonely day.
We long as a family to run along the beach and the park with Bramble, our now eight week plus Labrador retriever, playing ball. The family outings with dog drool as she eagerly awaits the contents of our picnic: Labs are greedy devils. The wagging tail and the wonderful greeting when we return home. Eagerness to get into the car in a mad hurry of energy. The smile on her face and how her head will turn to one side when we talk to her or make a fuss.
So please don’t be put off completely. Dogs will give back more than you will give in a lifetime. You will love them and care for them just like a child. Just remember all the hard graft that is involved.
A dog is for life not just for Christmas.There will be animal shelters up and down the UK today bracing themselves for the after Christmas rush of abandoned puppies and young dogs.
Make sure your dog is not one of them.