By Erica Root
First comes the house, then comes the puppy. It’s the way of the world.
And girl was I eager to get a puppy.
A little fur ball to greet me as I come home from a long day at work. To give puppy kisses and cuddles. And, of course, unconditional love.
And now, finally, I have that little puppy in my life. He’s so unbelievably adorable. And I’m not just saying that because I’m his new mom. But man, the fantasy world I’ve built in my head about dog ownership is nowhere near the reality.
I’m writing this from the floor of my hallway, with one hand on the keyboard and the other playing tug-a-war with Teddy’s new toy. One that is as big as he is.
Teddy has been in my life for just two weeks now. And this is what I’ve learned:
- I’m 98% sure Teddy doesn’t even know his name yet. Sure we say it ALL. THE. TIME. But I am not sure that matters. In all fairness to Teddy, he is only 10 weeks old, and we’ve been calling him by a lot of names. Theodore. Theo. Teddy. Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Rootwich. Teddy Barchen (means little bear in German). Eisbear (polar bear in German). And Honey Bunny. That’s the latest one I’ve been using and I’m not sure of its origins, but it feels right.
- Just when I think I’ve figured out potty training, Teddy makes a mess on the beautiful hardwood floor. One afternoon, just a few days ago, I was busy making dinner, which was taking forever because I was keeping a close eye on Teddy. I think I was chopping some veggies and when I finished I didn’t find him next to me. I searched for him through the limited space he is allowed to roam and found that he had gone number two on the pee pad. I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER. This made my life. At that moment I was golden. I was the best puppy trainer in the world! Of course, this was completely undone the following morning when Teddy left a poop snake in the hallway, shattering my belief that potty training could be easy.
- Laying down on a plush bed is apparently NOT a universal signal to settle down, cuddle mommy, and go to sleep. If anything, it just riles him up more. Literally, whenever I decide to lay down on the ground next to him he gets amped. He bobs, he weaves, he strikes. And those puppy teeth are like little needles. You do not want to be in their way.
- Fetch is NOT an inherent skill. Who knew? You throw a ball. Your dog goes after said ball. And brings it back. Simple. Clean. Done. I wish.
- Don’t expect to sleep through the night. Having a puppy is like having a newborn, or at least what I imagine a newborn be like. They are going to cry and they are going to want to go to the bathroom. You are not going to get a good night’s rest.
- If you nanny cam your puppy, they will know. Isn’t technology beautiful? With an IPad, strong internet connection, and a simple phone application, you can monitor the every move of your new addition. Check in to make sure they are still breathing, that they aren’t crying all day, and that they are pottying in the designated area. Or not. Unfortunately, dogs are smart. And they will know you are watching them. They will look straight into the camera and go to the bathroom. Laughter evident in those teeny tiny adorable eyes.
I write this because I want people to know the realities of dog ownership. I’ve wanted a dog for years. We had a family dog who passed a few years ago and I was eager to have one for myself. As a grownup. In my new home.
What I’ve come to realize is that I did absolutely none of the hard work my parent’s had to go through when we got our family dog. I was in fifth grade, and despite promises to walk, feed, and take care of the pet, you best believe that those primary responsibilities fell to my parents.
Between work, a house, and a few extra-curriculars to keep me busy, adding puppy ownership to the mix is no joke. You have to be ready for your life to change completely. To come home after work before meeting friends for dinner. To coordinate schedules if you decide to go out of town. And be ready to shell out a chunk of money to buy food, toys, vaccines, and puppy pee pads.
So think long and hard about bringing a puppy into your life. They bring lots of love and joy, for sure – I don’t regret a minute of it. But they also bring a lot of work.
Now I need to go back to Teddy.