I love being a dog owner! Teddy was absolutely worth the wait. One week into being his owner has been exciting, rewarding, and exhausting. He's my favourite little guy who loves sleeping between pillows and exploring every nook and cranny his head can fit into. And while I've grown up with dogs in the house, having one of my own is such a different experience. I read all the puppy prep books I could to make sure I'm doing my best, but sometimes you need a voice you trust to give you the down low. So here's what I learned after a week of living with Mr. Ted.
Lead with Patience and Empathy
While I'm sure all my coworkers think I'm at home taking a paid vacation with my dog, my day looks a lot more like cleaning up accidents, Googling what's poisonous to dogs, and throwing a ball hundreds of time against my baseboard so he'll chase that and not my leg. It can feel tedious and exhausting. And sort of like he's doing it on purpose! But he's exploring the world for the first time and I need to be there to make that exploration safe. So even when he's zooming around at 6am on a Saturday biting my toes, it's important that I am patient with him instead of frustrated. That I teach with empathy versus convenience because I want to move on. And that I give him peanut butter Kongs whenever I need a break to be those things later.
Accept the Temporary
A puppy isn't like this forever. Through training and love and socializing they won't be the little terrors they are now. And you won't have to go outside for potty breaks every few hours. That's what I tell myself every night when I can barely keep my eyes open. This stage is temporary. And while I can't wait for him to potty on his own or stop biting my pants, I don't want him to grow up from fitting under the coffee table or doing puppy hops to grab a ball. Enjoy what you can.
Recognize There Is No Perfection
Like most things in life, I want to be perfect at whatever I'm doing. When preparing for Teddy's arrival I did research on the best of everything he could need. I stayed up reading articles and watching videos to make sure I could be the perfect owner. But this past week I realized that there is no perfect owner, and I was making myself feel terrible by trying to be one. There is no one right way to make your dog have the perfect life. You have to listen to their individual needs and try your best. Sometimes you'll succeed and some days you'll miserably fail. My dog won't sleep the whole night in his crate and that's fine. He doesn't have to be perfect, he just has to be happy. And there's nothing a few puppy training classes can't fix.
Everything is Dirty and Out of Sorts and I'm Okay With It
I write this looking at my kitchen floor, covered in a fine layer of dust from Teddy walking in with muddy paws. It's noon and all I've accomplished is sending a few emails and barely getting myself dressed. My bed hasn't been properly made in days. Can't remember the last time I ate a meal at my regular time. And that's all okay. This is a learning time, where he's getting situated and I'm trying to survive having something new in my routine. In no time at all we'll create our own schedule and I'll remember to clean the floor when he naps and I can eat even if he has zoomies. Life feels chaotic and like I'm failing, but Teddy and I are both finding footing in our new life as dog and owner. It's all okay.