Let’s get it out of the way, my little Chloe is adorable but sometimes I reconsider her cute-ness (but only sometimes). I am just kidding, I am obsessed with this little fluff ball of love. But there were somethings that I learnt along the way of being a single puppy mummy, and I thought I would share the realities of having a puppy/dog is, and I also wanted to share how much this little one means to me.
Whenever anyone mentions the word puppy, or a dog/puppy walks across the street there are two groups of people. The first group of people are rational appreciate that there is dog and do not pay that attention to it because either they are not fussed or not a fan of dogs (I know I know, how can anyone not like dogs), and the second group of people lose their mind at the mere sight of a dog because they cannot contain their excitement of being in the presence of this wonderful creature (the dog not the owner). I fall into the latter group of people. I am an equally opportunity dog lover, I do not care how big or small the dog is, how fluffy or un-fluffy (is that a word?). Basically I am dog obsessed! A boyfriend of mine said that I would light up every time I saw a dog, and that is the most accurate description of myself when I am near a dog even if the dog does not like me, I am so happy to be in its presence (I am so needy when it comes to dogs – I just want them to love me). Enough about my dog obsession and let’s talk being a puppy parent.
I have always grown up with pets, and most of my pets growing up were dogs. I love them all so much, but god the hardest thing about having a dog, cat, hamster or what ever animal was the goodbyes! But my parents were always wanted me to have pets because I am an only child and they want to teach me not be selfish and to care for something small and vulnerable and who could not do for themselves, and also the impermanence of life. To be honest, I would not trade any of my experiences, except I wish that ALL my pets lived till I was old and grey too! My parents were pretty strict when it came to having pets, they always wanted me to take them out, or go to the vet visits etc, because they always wanted to instil in me that pets were hard work.
Fast forward to my 20’s I was desperate for my own little fur baby, but I just did not have the time for one when I first started working, but as the years went on my lifestyle changed a lot. Basically this granny was not out as much and I decided I wanted a dog, and I thought about it long and hard and discussed it at length with my parents and then finally in March 2016, I got myself a little white fluffy fur baby. It was the best day of my life!!! I had never been so happy in my 20’s (sad I know) but it was a puppy in my car, that I was driving home with my dad. But she was so scared and confused and she threw up on my dad, and my dad was an angel and did not say anything. Then when my dad left my home, then I realised it was just Chloe and I. She was so tiny and scared and everything was so new to her – even thinking about how small and cute she was melts my little black heart. Now this little queen runs around my house like she owns the place. Her first night with me was rough! She did not sleep, she cried, then she wanted to play and then she slept on my chest all night and it was so cute. Then came the life of being a single puppy mummy and here are my little lessons I learnt from having a puppy.
1. Cost factor:
Yes, having a dog is wonderful, but it costs money. From food and insurance, which obviously depends on the type of dog you have and their size. My little one is small and that means I do not have to feed as much as a labrador. Then there is the costs of vet visits, that is not cheap. Oh, and if you have a fluffy baby like mine you need to factor in hair cuts etc. Then there are the basics like poo bags, treats, dog beds, toys (mine has too many because my parents treat her like the grandchild I have not given them) and at the beginning stages, puppy pads to help with the toilet training. I also have to buy little coats for the winter time when I take her for W.A.L.K.I.E.S (we have to spell that word and D.R.I.V.E because the little Queen gets to excited).
Puppies are cute, with their big eyes and tiny nose and cute little personality quirks that trying to discipline or train them seems impossible. I found it very hard to be tough on Chloe, look at her she is so bloody cute and I remember my parents telling me that I need to. Since I had this little one on my own I had no one to play bad cop, so I decided to take her to a puppy training class – which on a side note was called a “puppy party”. This was a puppy class for puppies of the same age to interact and have a little bit of training for their little puppy brains. Honestly, it was the best thing I ever did. The dog trainer was basically some sort of wizard, what ever she demanded the puppies and even the owns did. I found myself following her instructions – she was firm but so lovely. She did teach me that you need to show your puppy that you are the leader of the pack, and to show confidence and that is all it takes to train your pup, oh and of course patience! I had to learn not to baby her too much, but it seemed impossible to do because of her cuteness, but it is an essential. Lets be honest, she is my first born and I do baby her but I am the boss at home – sometimes. After getting all her injections and she got the all clear to go for walks I took her out, to get her used to other dogs, and people and I took her with my everywhere and she is now the perfect little date to take with me everywhere. She gets on with everyone, she loves kids and other dogs. I honestly feel like a proud mother writing this.
3. Adjusting to life with a puppy:
I always knew it was hard work, but I do not think I knew how much hard work it was. I always thought I did a lot for my pets, until I got Chloe (thank you mama for doing a lot of the hard work). You almost need to have eyes on the back of your head to keep an eye on them. You need to keep an eye on them all the time, from the peeing and pooing to putting things in their mouths. It becomes very exhausting, and I remember feeling slightly overwhelmed by it all, and also very sleep deprived too. It was like having a new baby who was also a toddler running around doing things that she should not be doing. You also need to prepared for your life coming to a stop and that is okay, you are looking after another life. Then a little routine gets into place slowly but surely, and I remember once Chloe and I had got into one for ourselves it became less overwhelming and my life could resume again.
There is something that I think everyone should be aware of and that is not be too precious about your stuff. As I mentioned before I am an only child and my parents think I am anal when it comes to how I like things in my house etc, I just think that I am particular in my organised way of life and I like to look after my stuff. Chloe did not ruin anything, but my home was also her home and she would mess up cushions and she did ruin a few things but all of that did not matter. It was just stuff, and there was always a washing machine.
Another important thing is to leave them at home, a little bit at a time. I know, I know its so hard because they cry and then you cry. Ah I remember the mess it was when I left her to go do a food shop and I was sobbing in my car. My parents has to talk me off this ledge I had got on top of. It is important to teach them that you will always come back and that way they build confidence and that is super important. All I have to do now is take a blanket, lay it on the couch and my little Chloe hops on the couch with Dave (her unicorn) and she knows I’ll be back (in my best Terminator expression).
Also remember it is a huge life adjustment. I have another little life to think about, I cannot leave for hours and hours. I cannot just go on holiday without thinking about her, so think about if you can make that kind of commitment. Getting a puppy is very romantic notion that everyone thinks about, but beyond the adorable puppy and the cute puppy cuddles is a lifetime commitment to this little soul – so buckle up and get ready for the best ride of your life, which is also super duper hard at times.
Was it worth it?
YES! A 1000%. Having Chloe is the best thing in my life. All the hard work, the training, the patience, the sleep-less nights and the crying and all the cuddles is the most rewarding thing and I would do it all again, because this little fur baby of mine is amazing. She has so much character and love to give, that my heart could burst with happiness when I think of her.
Getting Chloe was the best thing for me personally, she was the missing puzzle piece in my life that I did not know was missing. I would be lost without her. In the last few years I had been through the biggest break up of my life, I lost my childhood dog, I lost a friend because she was a liar and the last guy I date was basically horrid. All these things plus a few more shitty things sprinkled on top had left me feeling really broken, and lonely. I was living on my own, and my parents were far away – you get the gist, I was in a bad place.
I did not get Chloe because of any of this or as some sort of replacement, but I was ready for a pet and I had the lifestyle that allowed me to have one and I could be selfless now. Once Chloe’s little paws walked all over my heart I felt complete. I would be lost without her, she fixed my heart with her big eyes and her happy little smile and with all the cuddles and kisses too. She is the most amazing little fur baby, she loved me at my worst and she truly taught me to love again, selflessly with no expectation. She has taught me to laugh and to be find happiness in the small things in life. Even ever I am having a bad day, she just has to look at me with her loving eyes, and it just miraculously makes everything better.
She is also the light of my life, she is the beat of my heart, she is the sparkle in my eye, she is the joy of day and she the light in my darkness. And for that I am forever grateful to this little baby of mine.
Photos by Michela Efford