You've decided to get a puppy! Or maybe you're on the fence and are still trying to decide. Either way, congratulations! I can't even begin to tell you how much that little bundle of joy is going to change your life for the better. If everyone greeted you the way a dog greets you, we'd be living in an incredible world.
However, it's best to go in with your eyes wide open because there are a few things NOBODY TOLD ME before we got our puppy. Know what? I would have liked to have known because life is better when you're prepared.
You don't want to be like this when that puppy makes its way through your doors:
You'll spend hours trying to find the perfect name for your puppy. Maybe you chose a name with meaning, maybe you decided to go for the punny name like “Five Miles” so you can tell everyone you walk five miles every day. Maybe you decided on it beforehand or maybe you waited to meet your puppy to see if the name you had in mind was a good fit.
No matter what name you choose, no matter how perfect it is...for the first three months, your puppy will think her name is “Drop It.”
Drop it will be your new go-to phrase because that little puppy of yours likes to eat, well, everything.
Your sweet little puppy who you’re going to talk baby talk to no matter how much you think you won’t - "because who's the cutest wittle puppy in the world? It's you Ella Bella and I'm going to rub that cute Ella Belly, oh yes I am" - is going to eat everything she can get her little puppy paws on. EVERYTHING. Our puppy has eaten or chewed on all of the following:
The good news is, you’re going to teach her how NOT to chew/eat everything.
The bad news is, my running shoes were unrecoverable.
Maybe you have this image in your head about taking long, peaceful walks with your dog on trails. Or maybe you envision regular walks through your neighbourhood, or even going on an evening jog and "OMG! This dog is going to help me get in shape!"
The reality is that in the first year, she's still a puppy and that little munchkin is going to be curious. Walks will be more like you taking two steps forward and your puppy stopping to sniff the tree, the fire hydrant, a blade of grass, a pine cone, chasing a piece of paper blowing by, and/or eating rabbit poop. It’s a process that needs patience.
Also, she may simply lay down and refuse to move while she bites her leash (see "eating everything" above).
Gentle advice: This too shall pass.
I’m going to be quite honest with you, you’re going to have to let go of your cleanliness standards a little bit. Once, in a moment of desperation, I asked my friends on Facebook the following:
Tips for keeping on top of dog hair throughout your home – Stat.
The answers ranged from:
“Just give in to the dark side of knowing it's practically impossible, short of following your dog around with a vacuum cleaner.”
“I have no tips, just my own tears.”
"I vacuum pretty much daily, use sheets to cover furniture, and dog pillows so I can easily throw them in the wash. I also use those tape pet-hair rollers every time I leave the house to get rid of the dog hair on my clothes."
But I'm also going to tell you, it’s not all doom and gloom. You’re going to find your own groove on how to keep on top of things and the love and laughter your puppy gives you will MORE than make up for the hair.
Repeat after me:
What goes in, must come out.
This is now your mantra for the next couple of months until your cute wittle puppy masters the art of holding her pee and poop.
During the first couple of months with a puppy, you’re going to lose sleep because they just can’t hold it in. It’s not their fault and you need to be patient. Whether you choose to get up and take your puppy out at night or use puppy pads for her to do her business throughout the night, you're going to get woken up.
And it’s going to be the same thing during the day. As soon as she eats or drinks, you need to become Usain Bolt and do the mad dash to the door to get that puppy outside.
Even though it may seem like forever when you're going through this process, the time will go by in the blink of an eye and your puppy is going to learn to let you know when she needs to go.
Helpful Hint: We hung a bell by the door and our puppy now rings it whenever she needs a bathroom break.
So those are the main things I learned when we got our puppy but the most shocking thing I didn't know, was this:
Enjoy these #PuppyMoments because your little puppy is going to grow faster than you think and you're going to look back at photos when she was teeny tiny and wonder why you didn't snuggle her more.
We see you struggling with your toddler in the store. She’s having a meltdown in the candy aisle and you’re on the cusp of tears.
You look over and there we are with our lanky teens, mature tweens, and school-aged kids who actually help us push the cart and you think how lucky we are to be past this tantruming stage.
And in a way we are but there is some truth to the old adage “Bigger kids, bigger problems.”
So when we smile at you and say something that sounds trite like “Enjoy this time, it goes by so fast” and you want to punch us in the neck because you’re in the middle of handling an epic meltdown and time actually seems to be standing still as you face the glares of other shoppers….we’re not trying to be an asshole. We really are trying to help.
Also, we forget. Parenting can do that to you. You remember the tantrums and the frustration of a little child whose go to phrase “I do, mummy” makes you clench your stomach so you don’t lose your shit because you know “I do” means it’s going to take 17 minutes to zip up his zipper.
But it’s like the pain of childbirth, we remember but we don’t remember the ‘actual’ pain, just that it hurt. Because if we remembered the actual pain we wouldn’t ever have kids again and the human race would die out. It’s the same thing with toddler tantrums. We remember it was terrible and the frustration it caused but we can’t put ourselves back at that place and time and, quite frankly, why would we? Masochists, we are not.
Also perspective allows us to look back and laugh at the ridiculousness of having to drag a toddler through a snowstorm while he yells “I hate you, you fucken” because he didn’t want to walk home after school (true story). I’ve never forgotten how that particular episode caused me to (1) call my husband at work and tell him he better not be so much as .06 seconds late coming home and (2) drink an entire bottle of wine. But I'm also able to laugh at it now instead of locking myself in a bathroom wondering how I became such a terrible mother.
So we say stuff to you like “this too shall pass” and “cherish this time, it goes by quickly” not because we’re trying to be assh*les or diminish what you’re going through, but to give you hope. Because you will get through this and it will pass.
And the next thing you know you’re lying awake at midnight because your teen is out with friends you barely know, driving in a vehicle with a license he just earned three weeks ago, and you just want him to make it home safely.
The time goes by quicker than you think.
There’s an article making the rounds about why a psychologist is actually in favour of kids fighting back against a schoolyard bully.
It’s a position that has people divided, including our own group of writers at YMC.
So I’m going to put myself out on a limb and say straight out, I’m completely fine if my kids fight back against a schoolyard bully.
When my older son was in Grade 2 he was picked on by some kids due to the fact that my 7-year-old wore a suit and tie to school every day and he carried a briefcase. Because it wasn’t the norm, a few older kids decided he was a good target. They made mean comments and stole his briefcase, tossing it back and forth between them so he couldn’t get it.
Now here’s the part of the story I never told because I didn’t want to be crucified on the internet.
He managed to get the briefcase back and then promptly hit the instigator with it. Hard.
He then ran into the school and got a teacher.
And you know what? I was okay with it.
I’ve taught both my boys to work things out with word first. The next step is to go to an adult in charge. I have an open relationship with both my boys and we have ongoing conversations about many important topics including bullying. Neither of my boys has ever gotten in a fight and I hope neither of them ever does. At the end of the day, I absolutely believe that physical fights solve absolutely nothing.
But if someone decides to take it to the next level and hit my child both my boys are 100% allowed to defend themselves and they will not get in any trouble when they get home even if they get in trouble at school.
However, they both know that there will be a long conversation about the whole situation. Probably more than one. And I’ll make them understand the lessons behind their actions.
It’s my hope that any bullying situation never ends in a physical altercation for anyone. But the reality is, it does happen and we can't hide our head in the sand and pretend it doesn't.
Which is why my boys are never, ever allowed to start a fight but they sure as shit can end one.