Becoming a Pet Parent
I think that everyone has a different reason for wanting a companion animal. My reason was simple—I wanted a friend who wasn’t a person. I believe that in my head I pictured lazy afternoons with a dog in my lap and a book in my hands. All peace and quiet and shimmering with serenity as the dust sparkled in the rays of sun. But, from the very beginning, life with our first dog, Mylo, was anything but.
We had spent weeks searching the internet for the perfect Golden Retriever puppy. We both liked the look of the breed, and the temperament. Finally, we found him. A soft little ball of pudge with the tiniest, most dainty, golden eyelashes. Mylo we called him, and after weeks of waiting we went to pick him up to take him home.
On the way out to the farm where he was born, we both squealed with excitement. We were going to have a puppy, and he would be wonderful. We were filled with joy and anticipation at the arrival of our first pet together. But, about halfway there we got pulled over for a speeding ticket. It was expensive, and put a damper on our happiness. Now, when I think back on it, I believe it was a sign. Not that Mylo was going to be a bad dog, but that perhaps it wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought.
We picked him up, took him home, and tried to get him settled. He was so fat that when he tried to eat out of the food bowl his feet with slide out from beneath him and he would end up face first in the bowl. He fell asleep beside my husband’s shoes, completely ignoring his new fluffy bed.
When we went to sleep that night, I put him in between us on the bed. I had the silly notion that he would sleep soundly, enjoying the puppy-sandwich of warmth between his new parents. I failed to recognize that he wasn’t trained to urinate outside. Inevitably, he peed all over the bed in the middle of the night, soaking us and our blankets, making a mess of himself. That was lesson number one; puppies need to go outside about every two hours, even during the night, while being trained. Thus, began our new regimen of waking in the wee hours, taking him out to pee, and praising him while we shivered in our housecoats, yearning for warm blankets and dreams.
That wasn’t it either. We also learned that when we took Mylo out at night, and praised him for making puddles in our yard, he would get excited. He would decide it was time to play when all we wanted was to go back to sleep. He would gnaw on our slippered toes, bounce around the house, and bring out his toys. Lesson number two; kennel training is not evil. After countless nights of Mylo pacing, playing, and chomping on our feet we were sleeping, we bought him a kennel. We made it comfortable with his favorite blanket and some toys and sat it right next to our bed. He quickly came to realize that it was his space and that he enjoyed sleeping through the night. What a glorious discovery that was. Thankfully, we used positive training methods to help him to adjust, so even to this day he still likes to go in there on his own even when we are home. He doesn’t sleep in it anymore though.
These memories are from the first few weeks of our first-time experiences in owning a puppy, but there are more to be written. This was just the beginning of our learning curb.