My husband and I brought home Bear and Thor last November. They are now six months old, and have stolen our hearts! Here are seven lessons we’ve learned in our four short months of puppy ownership that you may find encouraging if you are considering bringing home some furry friends of your own–or perhaps, if you are a long-time puppy owner, you have some advice of your own to give?!:
1. Come up with a good name (or two, or three).
See point #2.
2. If you go for one, be prepared to leave with two.
My family has always been prone to purchasing duplicate house pets spontaneously. First, it was my childhood Boston Terrier, “Honey,” who my grandparents brought home with her sister, “Samantha.” Then, it was our two Tonkinese cats, Mickey and Minnie, who we brought home because after hours of debating which one to purchase, my grandpa exclaimed (with a cat draped across his shoulders), “Why don’t you just get the both of ’em!” So we did. Then there are the puggles, Rocky and Bella (above, left, with my dad). They were the only two left, and so, we “had to get them both.” (“We can’t leave one–it would be lonely!,” my dad said.) So when my husband and I drove out to Sherrard, Illinois (2 1/2 hours away from our home in suburban Chicago) to pick up a Collie puppy (just like Lassie!), it shouldn’t have been a surprise that we left with two in tow (above, right, with my mom). The same thing might happen to you, so be prepared! We were prepared with our arsenal of three names: 1. Bear 2. Thor 3. Fluffy. We opted for names 1 and 2.
3. Your life is no longer your own (i.e., Be prepared for a nervous breakdown).
Gone are the days of moseying around the house, going to the gym at will, playing video games, reading quietly, and journaling. When you bring home a puppy or two, your life priorities to shift from “me” to “them.” This transition may be a bit more dramatic for some than others–but I take heart knowing it is “good preparation for children.” For example, I had my first (and only) nervous breakdown on the second day of our dog ownership, when my husband left me for work (he’s a pastor who works at a church every Sunday) and I was alone with our frenetic furry friends. Thor peed on the carpet three times in the span of three hours, and needed to go outside four times per hour. That is every 15 minutes. When we asked the vet about it, he recommended we do a urine test (see point #3), but when results for a bladder infection turned up negative, he simply said, “This must be a behavioral issue–he’ll grow out of it in a year or so.” Not very encouraging words for new pet owners. But I take heart in the fact that, at six months, Thor only has to go outside every half hour. Not only is taking them outside every 15 minutes the “norm,” but when they aren’t outside, you have to watch them constantly for fear they will chew anything and everything in sight (including power cords, shoes, furniture, carpet, cabinets, and more, as Thor is exhibiting in photo above).
4. Puppy-proof your house and bring cleaning supplies everywhere you go.
Thor has already chewed through two electrical cords (SCARY), so we plan to buy a “cord box” where we’ll store all of the cords that are typically out on a regular basis. On the bright side of this conundrum, we will have a tidy-looking living space. 🙂 Also, carsickness is a real thing–Thor, again, is a prime example. He puked everywhere on the way home from the breeder–and all we had to clean it up with was a Kleenex. I knew he would be trouble from this point forward. So now we always keep paper towels and liquid cleaner in our car. Also, both at home and whenever you travel to visit someone, bring carpet cleaner and paper towels along–you never know when a housebreaking accident may happen!
5. Financially prepare.
Vets are expensive. Cages are expensive. Carpet cleaner is expensive (but this stuff–Sunny and Honey Professional Pet Stain Eliminator–is necessary, natural, and totally worth it). Organic dog food is expensive. Toys are expensive. But there is hope–see point #6!
6. Shop online for discount deals and quality goods
My husband and I have found Amazon Prime to be a lifesaver. Not only do we save hundreds of dollars at a time (literally on this cage, which was much more in a physical pet store) is the only place to buy dog goods–we ship tons of things to our home, some of our favorite items being their branded MLB St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs food bowls (we do just fine for being a house divided!).
7. It takes a village
Family, friends, and enthusiastic supporters/coworkers are a “must” for those seeking to own a house pet. Not only can supporters contribute some good old TLC to your furry friends, but they may also donate some toys to the cause (as it were with Bear and Thor’s overly generous family Christmas (see photo #3 above). They are now spoiled rotten.).
So, if you want to go out now and buy a Collie puppy, check out these wonderful breeders in the area: Royal KC Puppies (Sherrard, IL); Big Timber Collies; or Illinois Collie Rescue. Or, as mentioned above, if you have any advice on raising puppies to share, please do! My husband and I are still new to this journey and at present simply appreciate the daily miracle of no accidents in the house.
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