A few weeks ago, I was sitting at home with my recently neutered and in pain puppy, and I found myself looking at Bentley and thinking about all the little things that I have learned in under 6 months of having him.
I’m a worrier.
I’ve always known that I am a silent worrier, but being responsible for a life, has amplified that trait. I find myself being ridiculous and sometimes checking on Bentley while he naps, just to make sure I can see his belly go up and down and know he is breathing.
When they hurt, you hurt.
Bentley’s neutering procedure wasn’t quite standard. He had only one ball descend, which meant our vet ended up having to fish his second (and apparently larger) ball out of his abdomen. He was shaved and stitched and not allowed on long walks or day care for a minimum of 10 days, all without the help of any drugs. He was moping around, whining, and looking rather helpless in his inflatable cone. If it was someone else’s picture I’d laugh, and yet I would have done anything to make him happy and healthy again.
I know it’s quality time over quantity, but it is and it will be a struggle.
I have come to realize that doggy day care on week days is the best thing for the whole family. Bentley gets to play with other dogs, I’m at work and I pick him up after tired and happy. And yet, I can’t stop feeling guilty when I need my own time, and have to ask for help outside of work hours.
Everyone makes mistakes.
There are a 1,000 different schools of thought around raising a dog. For a few weeks we were following advice from a german shepherd site, which pretty much seemed to blame puppies for trying to be dominant and forceful ways to clearly make yourself known as the alpha. The whole way of training made me uncomfortable and so we brought in a behaviorist. In meeting with that behaviorist for 30 minutes we realized how quickly Bentley responded to positive reinforcement and training, and how wrong we had been doing it. We still feel guilty about those first few weeks, but have learned that everyone makes mistakes, it’s forgotten quickly, and what we have done consistently for the last 5 months is more important.
I’m still not a patient person.
I’ve never been a patient person, and having a puppy didn’t magically make me one. It’s an effort to stay calm, and it’s constant work to not get frustrated or mad, and sometimes I lose it. I’ve had to learn, slowly, to become more patient, but I didn’t magically become this naturally patient person just by getting a puppy.
The Husband, while he tries to be secretive and nonchalant about it, has fully committed to being a good dad.
I still laugh knowing that the first day we took Bentley to daycare the Husband “just happened to get a sandwich from the place next door to the daycare, and just happened to go visit Bentley playing outside and watch him for a few”. Or that the day Bentley ran from the dog walker and was lost on his hike, the Husband immediately left work and headed towards the mountain to help find him. Bentley was found before he got there, but it was sweet to realize that he reacted quickly with his heart.
I am, and probably will always be, a cheesy proud Mama.
Bentley excels at training, he is incredibly well-behaved, especially whenever we hike off leash, people always comment on how good-looking he is, and damn – it just makes me so proud. I can’t help but brag about him.
My God, they are expensive, even more so when you’re not good at managing money.
The Husband and I are aren’t horrible, but we’re not fantastic with money. Even though together we make a lot, we spend quite a bit too. Between the necessities, the vet trips, the vet er, and the non-necessities (where we could have and still could cut back) of healthy treats, dog beds, toys, day care, dog walker, training classes, galore – this pup has easily already cost us in the thousands. We knew having a pup would be expensive, but we are quickly learning he will be just as happy if we spend a little less.
Sometimes they need you, more so than they want you.
The truth is, there are days where Bentley just needs us, more than he wants us. Sure he loves us, and seems happy with us, but there are definitely days where I think he’d take hanging with his dog friends over us but needs us for shelter and food. I’ve learned to become OK with that.
There will be moments, quiet and special moments, that will erase the bad right out of your mind.
The reason I have become ok with the above is that there truly are moments that take away all of those tough times. When he burrows into me, or follows the Husband around, or comes over and places his head on my leg and falls asleep, or just sits in front of us and gives us that big goofy smile – those moments, make it all – the hard work, the money, the tough times – so worth it.