Monday at noon we walked into the vet in New Hampshire and asked for our new puppy, “Michael”. The vet tech looked at us almost sadly and said she’d be right back.
Out came a yawning, shaking little guy. At first I thought, is that actually our puppy? The recent pictures the adoption counselor sent had made him look so big already. But this guy wasn’t, at 10 weeks he is tiny, and in that moment was clearly so scared.
He was also sick. Kennel cough and parasites. Apparently quite common, especially after the stress of transport but he had two medications we needed to give him.
I quickly picked him up and cuddled him to alleviate the shaking. The collar we brought, the one that everyone said we should just buy normal size so he can grow in it, at its smallest loop fit around his stomach. At that moment, I felt nervous and like a failure.
The car ride home wasn’t bad, he was still scared and slept a little on the seat across from me in the back. He seemed leery of us and exhausted.
Once home, he quickly fell in love with his bed, and slept. However, each time we moved he would wake up and follow us. We realized quickly that would had to keep him on the bed between us on the floor until we were ready for bed.
The first night… oh the mistakes we made. We felt bad when he started spazzing and crying in his crate so we kept the crate door open, blocked our bedroom loft off and let him roam if needed. We woke up at 4am to poop, pee and running around. Bad, bad idea.
What we’ve learned since then…
He loves being held. It’s really funny because he doesn’t necessary like cuddles when we sit down, but if you pick him up into your arms he relaxes and leans his head against ours. This is one of the few times he likes to give puppy kisses too as he burrows into our necks.
He needs to release energy and he has far more energy now that he is comfortable with us and our house. The second night we ran into about an hour of time where he was chewing our couch, biting at our legs, putting his butt in the air and barking and leaping everywhere. I honestly was scared we had a “Marley” on our hands. We soon realized, if we take him out on many walks and let him decide when it’s time to come in (he runs towards the home stairs) then he gets so sleepy and tired.
Speaking of stairs… we are able to get him to go up the stairs now. However, down the stairs is another story. Our stairs are actually very steep and he is little – but if we try to take him near the top of a stair case to go down he FREAKS OUT. I’m talking whining, yelping, running in the other directions, spazzing sideways on the leash. Right now I’m carrying him down the stairs which is fine at 16lbs but… I can’t do that forever!
Speaking of sleeping… he actually loves his crate. We learned that whenever he goes in he gets one treat inside and a little peanut butter inside a kong toy. He goes in happily now and when we close the door he whimpers for maybe 2 minutes and then goes to sleep. He will stir or eventually whimper if he needs to go out to the bathroom (although we are currently setting alarms to take him out 1-2 times during the night just to be safe). He apparently was tired enough that this morning at 6am (an hour later than we normally wake up) when I went to take him out he looked at me, yawned, whined and walked to the back of his crate and went back to sleep! I gave him another 15 minutes and then turned the light on and he slowly made his way out. He apparently takes after my hubby already.
In terms of training I was a little worried at first that he wasn’t that motivated by food or praise – but he sure is learning. He is great about showing signs of when he has to go potty – he sniffs around frantically in the house or he runs into the kitchen. Most times we get him down stairs on time but (our fault) we sometimes miss the signs and he pees inside. During the day he needs to go sometimes every 30 minutes! He has quickly learned though when he goes to the bathroom outside, then he sits and I click the clicker and he gets a toy and lots of praise. He seems to know “sit” but more so for the treat — now each time he knows we have a treat in our hands he runs to us and sits!
But oh, the chewing and nipping. He’s learning (and when we burn enough energy, make sure he naps, and do “no bites” and stop playing) he now nips less. But gosh the incessant chewing. He loves everything he shouldn’t. Our bathroom carpet, our couch, the living room rug, the wooden stairs, the metal chair legs…we have had to find many toys to attempt to rival what are apparently like crack big chew toys for him. Luckily, I just don’t care about most of our old stuff in this apartment – but I definitely don’t want that habit to start.
Honestly, I never ever imagined the work that went into having a puppy. I just didn’t know that it would be constant watching, constant training, and to be honest, constant worrying. I didn’t know how much of a worrier I would be but I worry – I worry he is still sick, I worry he could get dehydrated, I worry he misses his siblings – I just can’t stop worrying!
And yet through all the constant work and utter exhaustion having a puppy has made me realize…
I never imagined I could love an animal this much. Sure I loved Meatball my cat, but somehow it’s not quite the same. I love this little guy so much it hurts. And I just want him to be healthy and happy.
I never imagined it would make me fall in love with my husband more. To be honest, I feared that since the Husband never had an animal he would like play time but not the rest. However, he has been one hell of a team-mate. After working the overnight he still spends an hour tiring puppy face out in the morning, when he is home at night he does the night wake-ups, he is constantly taking him out for walks, cleaning up after him, offering to do things whenever I appear tired. He calms me down when I worry and even he hugs me when I cry and doesn’t make fun of me (yes, I was exhausted and overwhelmed and actually cried the second night).
Bentley has been one of the most exhausting additions to our life… but one that brings more joy and love than I could have ever imagined. So for all you dog people out there, I get it, I truly now get it.