When my fiancé (Yes, Tyler and I got engaged—AHHH) and I officially decided to get a dog, I spent a solid two hours online googling phrases like “what do buy a new puppy” and “healthy dog food.” I found a vet, learned how to request a dog license, read about crate training and analyzed an article titled “Advice on raising a puppy when you work full time.”
You might call this excessive (and it probably is), but I call this my normal. I like to be prepared for anything and everything, and I do this by researching endlessly. It makes me feel like I actually know what I’m doing, and it makes it less scary when doing something you’ve never done before.
Usually, this goes pretty well for me, but no amount of research could prepare me for what lied ahead—becoming a dog mom.
That’s right—we got our puppy! Everyone meet Zoey.
She is playful, adorable, snuggly, rambunctious and such a little sneak. She prances around our house jumping on toys (and slipping on our hardwood floors) and even stalks her ball like a lion honing in on its prey.
She’s a ball of love and energy, and we are so glad she is the newest member of the Romito/Ish household (Soon to be only Ish!!! I still can’t get over that).
I wasn’t ready for…
I would like to think that I was the most prepared I had ever been in my life when we brought home Zoey. I felt like I knew exactly how to handle potty training, thought crate training would be a breeze and I had everything we needed for her to sustain the four hour ride home.
That was so silly of me.
No exaggeration, two minutes into the car ride, Zoey peed in the back seat. Tyler and I looked at each other in disbelief, and he pulled over so we could clean it and let her walk around to finish her business.
That’s when I knew this was not going to be as easy as I anticipated. It was the first of many lessons learned.
First lesson learned: Always let the puppy use the bathroom before getting in the car.
The rest of the ride home, we were sure to get off the highway every hour to let Zoey use the bathroom, run around and drink some water. And you better believe that we made sure she peed before getting in the car, because I did not want to be stuck cleaning up pee with the car on the side of the road again.
We got home, gave Zoey a bath, gave ourselves baths, got engaged (It was super cute. I’ll talk about it at some point, don’t worry.) and played with Zoey in what we now call her room until it was time for bed.
(Thankfully) Zoey climbed into her kennel without hesitation. Tyler gave her a toy and a treat and we cuddled up in bed to finally get some rest. Or so we thought.
First, she whined. Then, she howled.
Second lesson learned: You will not blissfully fall asleep when you have a puppy.
Instead, you will close your door, cover your head with a pillow and try to muffle out the heartbreaking cries until either you or your pup fall asleep.
It’s a good time to mention that both Tyler and myself wanted Zoey to feel at home in her kennel. We wanted it to be a safe, comfortable place for her to go, so we got her a big, fluffy comfortable bed for her to lay on.
However, we soon discovered that the tiny bladder of a puppy does not go well with a big, fluffy comfortable bed. On night one, she peed all over it, and after washing it we decided that it should no longer be in her kennel—at least for now.
Third lesson learned: Big, fluffy, comfortable beds are for the living room, not the kennel.
Since we’re on the topic of puppies using the restroom pretty much anywhere but the outdoors, now is a good time to mention the next lesson I learned.
Since I am an organized freak, I made sure to write down the times Zoey used the bathroom, as well as set my phone timer to make sure I took her out every hour.
Well, when the timer went off I realized I had to use the restroom too, so I decided to quickly go before I let Zoey out (We have to let her out on a leash for now because we don’t have a fence). As you can probably guess, that was the wrong decision.
I waked into the dining room to a nice puddle of pee.
Fourth lesson learned: Puppy pees before you pee. End of story.
Since then, I’ve had to do a few potty dances as I waited for Zoey to do her business.
While the list of lessons I’ve learned since we got Zoey is growing more and more every single day, I will limit it to five for both your and my time. This next one actually occurred as I was writing this post in my living room.
Normally, Zoey is always snuggled by my feet, whether I’m watching TV, eating dinner or doing the dishes. She’s just a cuddle bug.
I sitting on the couch when I realized it was extremely quiet (aka I didn’t hear little puppy grumbles chewing on a toy). I looked down at my feet and noticed Zoey was no where to be found.
After calling her name and it’s variations (i.e, Zo, Zo Zo, Zo Bear) a few times, I got up to look for her. That’s when I found her, in our bedroom, pooping on our floor. As soon as we made eye contact. She knew she messed up (and so did I).
Fifth lesson learned: When it’s too quiet, there’s trouble.
Did I mention that we’ve only had her for five days?
Always look for the lesson
Even though I did an abnormal amount of research, I still wasn’t fully prepared for what it takes to be a dog mom. But hey, that’s okay. That’s when experience comes into play.
No matter how prepared you may be—for a dog, a kid, a job, a relationship—you will never know it all until you experience it. You have to see it, feel it and touch it before you are truly knowledgeable and prepared for something.
The important part is to always learn the lessons along the way. Take every “Oh sh*t” moment and turn it into a “Oh, okay” moment. Learn as you live, and you will be prepared for (almost) anything.