Lessons learned from a year of parenting.
For someone who had no prior experience, I jumped head first into this and it was scary as hell. She was here in an eye blink and I had no clue what to do. No amount of pet care videos prepares you for things that can happen. But like anything in life we learn along the way, we fail, we do stupid things, we clean a lot of shit(literally) and end up learning a lot.
It’s been a year since we brought her home and the journey has been amazing. It taught us a lot about pet care. Things we did not know existed, things that blew our minds and things that made us fall in love with her.
So if you are someone whose brain is brewing up an idea about bringing a pet home, keep these points in mind.
1. Keeping it alive
You may think it’s an easy job but it ain’t that easy, my friend. If it’s not the hundred things that the pup does to kill itself like choking on a toy, eating random things and jumping off places it’s not supposed to.
You might end up killing it yourself from sheer annoyance(if you are a first time parent. Don’t do it) or from a food item that is harmful for them like nuts or raisins etc.
Be a responsible caretaker and learn a few tricks of the trade before you bring home one. Rest you will learn on the job like any parent.
Last year, saw a rise in cases of abandoned pets by their owners due to issues like this and the pandemic which is cruel and inhumane. Don’t be that person.
If you are someone who lives alone or travels a lot, think about who will care for them when you are away or fall sick. If you don’t have friends or family who can look after them, look for pet care centers nearby. They can provide support and care for the pet while you are away.
2. Adopt, Don’t Shop.
While I regret not exploring the adoption route before bringing home my pup, I am a strong advocate of it now. I was not as informed as I am now about dog adoptions. For anyone who is thinking about bringing home one, choose adopting instead of buying.
There are many pups and dogs who are looking for nice homes and you can provide them one by adopting. Great thing is, it does not cost any money.
Look for local organisations or pet shelters in your vicinity, many will pop up with a quick google search. If I ever muster the courage to bring another pet home, it’ll definitely be adopted, not bought.
3. Expenses are no joke.
Yep, you read that right. If you(like me) think all it requires is food, water and some toys, you cannot be more wrong. It requires a lot more than these basic needs. Let’s dive into the expenses a bit :
- Dog food : Home-cooked or store bought food, both entail a significant cost. The latter is more expensive.
- Medical expenses : A visit to your friendly vet for vaccinations is not so pocket-friendly sometimes. Treatment for diseases, emergencies or even a regular check-up is not cheap. Let me suffice with that.
- Grooming : Pet salons are an easy option but costly and home grooming is cheap but messy. For home grooming, you’ll have to buy grooming supplies. I find it easier to send her to a salon once a month and clean her with a dry shampoo at home, whenever she gets dirty(which is a lot).
- Toys and other stuff : It includes everything like collars, leash, bed and toys. They are not cheap, you can always opt for the cheaper options but they never last. And, it keeps changing as they age.
- Pet boarding/schools : In case, you are travelling or have to run errands or simply need a day off. Pet boarding is the best place for you. This expense can be completely avoided if you have friends or family to take care of your furry friends.
4. Privacy – What’s that?
Forget having a moment alone, EVER. Wherever you go they’ll follow, it’s endearing and annoying at the sametime.
My pup follows me to the bathroom till today, she gets anxious each time I close the door on her. She patiently waits near the door until I come out.
Taking long showers, eating alone in peace, exercising or stepping out of the house is an impossible task if you are alone at home. As long as you have someone around to help, you are good.
5. They bleed. Period.
Female dogs bleed and how! A fact neither my husband or I were aware of. Tons of research later, we found that they bleed when they hit puberty. And boy,were we in for a surprise.
Reality was bloodier than our expectations. They bleed from anywhere between 2-4weeks, it varies from smaller to larger breeds. They become very quiet and clingy. It’s not a good feeling, I am sure and the only thing you can do is be there for them.
And, say goodbye to your clean white floors.
6. Separation Anxiety
Like I mentioned before, they have major separation anxiety, especially in breeds like golden retrievers. You cannot leave them alone for a second. You will need to find ways to keep them engaged while you are away, doing some work or just going to the loo.
Also, if you are someone who is brave enough to leave a pup alone at home while you go to work, make sure not to leave anything chewable in their vicinity.
If I have learned anything from my personal experience and the million pet videos I have watched is that your house won’t be the same when you return if you leave everything in their mouth’s distance. Pun intended.
7. Train them Young
The one thing I regret is not house-training my pup early on. The best time to house train them is the first few months so make good use of it. It’s easier and they are more receptive to learning at this age.
Pups are suckers for treats, lure them with a handful of snacks and they are yours to train.
It requires a little bit of time and patience too from your side, they won’t learn in a day.
During my pup’s first months, we were away from home which posed a lot of difficulties to train her. When we came back, it was too late but we did manage to teach her a few basic commands. Victory.
8. Fur & Ticks have a Season
Your pet sheds. A lot. If you have a furry breed, your house will be painted with dog fur everywhere. Just like humans have hair fall everyday, it is normal for dogs to shed too.
Cleaning the house will be a task and if you don’t do it everyday, chances are you’ll find enough to knit a sweater.
There are seasons where they shed more than usual and that is normal too. Invest in a good vaccum cleaner.
Ticks are small blood sucking insects that stick onto the pet’s skin. It causes itchiness and irritation. Your pet can get it from anywhere, so always be on the lookout. If you see them scratching more than usual, it probably can be a tick or a flea. Get it removed.
There is a ‘tick season’ too. Yep, that’s right. We went through it a four months ago, it was a tick fest in our home and the pup’s body. It transfers from your pet to your walls, floors and everywhere. Tick infestation is not to be taken lightly, it’s dangerous for your pet. Immediately, take them to a vet and use proper medications. And, make sure to sanitise your home as well.
Thankfully, we survived through that without much damage.
Lastly, love them as much as you can. In the end, that’s all that matters to them. That’s why dogs are called human’s best friend.
The points I mentioned above are just a guide to familiarise a new pet-parent or a would-be parent of the future possibilities. This is what I experienced through a year of parenting, passing it on to you.
It is in no way meant to derail your plans of bringing home a pup. It is to encourage and prepare you so that you don’t loose your wits like I did figuring out everything.
Each pet is different, so will be the experience of each parent.
Like if you found this article helpful. If you have more questions regarding pets, ask away in the comments below.