So imagine this. You’re finally at that point in your life where you decide you’re ready to welcome a new member of the family- to raise a dog. You’ve done all your research, asked a couple friends and family for advice and finally decide to book that viewing appointment to see your doggo to-be.
And of course what better time than now right? With Covid-19 sticking around, 2020 is the perfect time to train and build that relationship without much FOMO (*the ‘Fear of Missing Out’)! You also start to rationalize and picture the next 10 years of your life, all while telling (well more like, convincing) yourself everyday that ‘You’re making the right choice! No regrets you got this! 😅 ‘
Now does this sound familiar?
If it does, then you’re probably a lot like me- optimistic, an over-thinker & someone who underestimates way too much. But hey, consider yourself blessed today because I’ll be sharing the things I wished I could have prepared myself better for while sharing a little more about my experiences as a first-time puppy owner!
The First Interaction
When I met Calie, she was with her other little siblings playing around and was being this wholesome picture of ‘childlike innocence’ that I instantly fell in love with. Meeting the pups for the very first time almost had me in tears behind my face mask because I was basically achieving my childhood dreams of wanting a dog (yes, I was that child) and it was such a surreal moment for me. But you see, that’s the easy part. The idea of having a loyal companion by your side, giving you that unconditional love and acceptance to brighten up any bad day may seem like such a promising idea most of the time, but you have to realise that this should not be the sole deciding factor – which leads me to my first point:
1. Commitment: It’s the most important!
Now this personally, should be the very first thing you think about before getting that dog in the window! It is a known fact that dogs can live up to 10-15 years and they definitely require a lot of time invested, energy, money and commitment. There are many articles that will tell you that to the point where it literally becomes ‘textbook knowledge’, but you won’t realise how serious this becomes until you live the life yourself! But not to worry, if you’d like to know if you’re prepared for it, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Why do you want a dog to begin with?
- Do you have time to train the puppy/dog?
- Can you afford a dog right now?
- Is your current home environment suitable for the particular breed you have in mind?
- Are you ready to deal with the problems (aka ‘collateral damage’) that comes with raising a dog? – from chewing everything in its path to unforeseen health emergencies
- …Did you do your research?
If you’ve managed to say ‘Yes’ to everything, then you’re pretty much set! On the other hand, if you went ‘Errr…Maybe?’ you might want to rethink the decision for now and wait things out, or adjust a few things in your life before making a choice.
Now as daunting as all this responsibility may seem, there is something so gratifying and rewarding about raising a puppy/dog and you can learn so much every single day from the experience alone- I know I have.
2. Be patient- Good things take time!
Raising puppies / Re-training dogs can be extremely hard! (and I’ve been to nursing school HA). The physical and mental exhaustion can be very demoralising as you help your new furriend to adjust to new environments and it doesn’t help whenever they make ‘potty accidents’, cry almost 24/7 from that separation anxiety, and treat your home like a natural disaster!
Yes, the ‘Puppy Blues’ are no joke and it began from the minute we brought Calie home – if you must know, she immediately marked the floors and had the worst cases of urinary incontinence (aka. a leaky bladder) for 2 weeks straight and although this was normal for puppies, I was loosing my sanity by the minute and would have uncontrolled bursts of frustrations where I would lash out or even breakdown at the most random timings. In fact, if you’d like to know more about these ‘Puppy Blues’, hop right over to @hoshi_sheltie ‘s blog after this and read their post as they talk about the real struggles and exploring ways to overcome them!
But just like how a baby needs time to learn manners, you have to understand that dogs are naturally pack animals and have instincts on their own. The more time and training you invest with your pup, the better you can curb negative behavior and build a great relationship! As a person who’s always occupied with tight schedules, it was not easy to suddenly make adjustments to a lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to for years just so I had enough time to train Calie and help make her adapt well with the family and it was a challenge to be constantly multi-tasking. I also strongly believe in positive reinforcement when training Calie and as a result she’s able to understand and pick up on instructions a lot more efficiently as opposed to negative reactions like yelling/hitting her (which I never do), and I’m proud of how strong our relationship is every single day, because I know all my time sacrificed is not in vain.
On the other hand, I do understand that there are people who may not be able to have the luxury of time and patience but would still like to try caring for a dog. A good suggestion would be to discuss with your families/loved ones and talk about how the responsibilities can be shared or alternatives like sending the dog to ‘puppy school’ or having a private trainer.
3. Unpopular Belief: Money Trees should really grow actual money for a change!
Now THIS is a real problem for not just myself, but in many pet owners out there especially in this time. The cost of living can be stressful for us hoomans, let alone for a dog & you would not imagine how much it takes to ensure your pup is in its best health and living in an optimal environment constantly. Of course, it would be a dream if I could give my pup the whole world (and possibly even more) if it meant making them the happiest doggos out there!
Before making a decision to bring Calie home, my family & I had to layout the possible costs for the next couple years and honestly it wasn’t such an easy pill to swallow. Besides the initial cost it took to get Calie, some examples of things I would typically get worried about is being able to provide food every month, to the many vet consultations as a result of unforeseen health scares , transportation costs (we don’t have a car to get around) and other miscellaneous items (eg. walking necessities, trivial accessories, etc.) – and that’s just to name a few! As a first-time owner I had my first rude awakening when I saw the bill for Calie’s vet consultation & I really thought my soul was ready to depart my body right there in front of the counter. However thankfully, we’re slowly learning to anticipate better in time to be more prepared for ‘financial emergencies’ & that’s something I hope to be much better at very soon.
Now I’ve heard of different ways to combat financial issues from many people and for new pawrents to-be, I’ve narrowed down a couple tips to consider:
- As much as possible please ADOPT, don’t shop! – there are so many fur babies who are still looking for homes to call their own, please think of them first.
- Consider applying for Pet Insurance (covering medical emergencies)- you never know when you’ll need to visit a vet and how often you go!
- Support Local businesses in the pet community! – There are so many brands out there run by pawrents themselves that cater from food, accessories and toys! (personally I have a list of brands for my reference)
- Make friends who can getchu lobang yall! – I’m talking brand ambassador discounts, special offers, and even the many pet giveaways on social media (eg. Instagram, Facebook), which is great news for shopaholics such as myself whoops 😚
So resist that temptation to overspend and just leave it in the cart first, trust me. (yes I’m looking you, my fellow bo lui gang)
But do note that you should only spend within your means, because “Money will buy you a fine dog, but only love can make it wag its tail” – Richard Friedman!
Anyways, those are my top 3 points to consider before thinking of making room for a new fur member of the family. So far, raising Calie has had its ups and downs, but I really do cherish every single moment I have with her always. If there’s anything I regret, it would be me wishing there was more things I could have been prepared for but everyday is a learning process for the both of us and sometimes there are just some things you need to learn along the way!
I can’t wait to see where life takes us in the next couple of years, and I’ll always do my best to ensure she lives a life that’s well-fulfilled and full of love. To all the new pawrents to be, both Calie and I wish you all the best in this new chapter of your life and to have fun with the process, you deserve this! 🥰