So first things first, I’m not a mum in the conventional sense. But being a mum to a puppy is still challenging, tiring, rewarding and requires a great deal of patience. I’ve taken some of my favourite ‘things to never say to a new mum’ from this article in The Independent which will help illustrate my journey through (puppy) parenthood.
1.You look tired.
The first few weeks of getting Cleo was exhausting. I had to set my alarm for every couple of hours to take her to the toilet (a puppy pad given we live in a flat), and while the gaps between toilet breaks gradually got longer, she only really stopped waking up at dawn when winter came along.
We crate trained her for a good 4 months but a trip away (despite my mum’s meticulous dog-sitting) put that to an end – she’d found out what the bed and bouncy duvet was and all it has to offer. But in the end, it wasn’t a disaster. We’re now able to go to bed when we want (but never before the dreaded outdoor trip for a ‘bedtime wee’) and let her get up when she wants. Hooray for not having to get up at 5:30am on a Sunday any more!
2. My child will literally eat anything
Ok, so this has a different meaning for dogs as it does for babies, but I’d rather Cleo be a fussy eater than have no filter when it comes to putting things in her mouth. That includes bark, wood, cardboard, tissue and even snow as I discovered this morning. Despite 8 weeks of puppy class at a young (too young probably) age, she hasn’t quite learnt not to pick up things on the floor. I think it’s partly that she really likes chewing things (thankfully she was never a furniture or shoe chewer and stuck to her teething toys), but even so it’s really quite frustrating when you can’t take her on a walk without her finding a bit of bark to bring back to our flat. If you have any ideas (other than giving her treats in exchange for whatever is in her mouth), let me know in the comments!
3. My child is already toilet trained
Oh yes, the competitive spirit some parents have is very much alive and kicking between us puppy parents too, and it comes out particularly strong when talking about toilet training.
As I mentioned above, Cleo’s now officially toilet trained. She goes out in the morning, several times in the day, and always before bed (we went through a period where she insisted on weeing on our bed right before we switched the light off, so we’re sure to empty her bladder before she gets set loose). But we don’t have the luxury of an open back door or a dog flap, so if we we’re not on the ball with taking her out she will (not often, but it happens roughly once a month) find that spot where her puppy pad lived in the beginning and relieve herself. It’s gross, but it’s our own fault if we haven’t taken her out.
4. She’s a bit of a handful, isn’t she?
I’m so tired of telling guests, ‘she isn’t always like this’ when they come to stay. I think our friends and family must think we’re mad to live with such a hyper fluffbag of energy but honestly, she’s not always like that. Of course she plays, but she also sleeps a lot too. Just not when we have guests over because that’s way too super duper exciting to think about doing anything other than jumping all over them when they have a hot cuppa in their hands and licking their face and bringing them a ball to throw until their arms want to fall off :).
5. You spoil your child
Puppy classes. Double bubble bath grooms. Posh pet shops. Designer harnesses and leads (we like the Barbour ones). Tailor-made dog food (which funnily enough I’ve been told you can try for £1 using the code ALLIEGC9). It’s no wonder non-dog-owners (or NDOs) think we spoil our pooches. But aren’t they they worth it?
‘Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.’ – Roger Caras
Getting a puppy whilst living in a city isn’t cruel, providing you think it through properly. I work from home a minimum of two days a week, and have a dog walker come twice a day when I’m out. I have a huge garden attached to my building, and she gets to play with other dogs on a daily basis. I never book a holiday without knowing someone reliable (like my mum!) can dog-sit. I sometimes have to leave my colleagues at the pub earlier than I would have on the odd occasion that my partner is also out after work, but arriving home to her is never a chore.
I’m ten months in and can surely say becoming a puppy parent was the best decision I’ve made. Cleo has not just brightened up my life but she’s almost impossible to ever feel anything other than happy around, and despite my new routine of numerous outdoor toilet breaks and walks, I feel like I’m more settled than ever. And I’m certainly doing more steps than my Fitbit would have seen pre-Cleo!