Three months ago, Alex and I (and my friend, Carol, who was visiting at the time) brought home a new puppy that we adopted from a family who could no longer keep him due to landlord issues. He was a seven-month old Bull Terrier. Or as we’ve come to understand as the more popular names: Spudz, Target Dog, or Chico. We brought him home the day we met him, for fear that whoever else got their hands on him would keep him locked up outside to breed and make money off of.
I know three months doesn’t sound like a long time to have a dog, but you get yourself a crazy bull terrier puppy first and then come talk to me… The breed is literally described (endearingly) as “toddlers in dog bodies;” “they have a certain love for life.” And I gotta say, those two descriptions most certainly sum up Marty pretty perfectly.
Now, we might not have the smartest pup in the world. He might not be the quickest learner. And he may be more stubborn than I ever thought was physically possible for a dog. But if there was a “sweetest dog contest,” I’d be willing to bet that Marty would place Top 10. The little dude doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He may puppy bite and chew the coffee table and sometimes your toes if your name is Alex, but most of the time you can find him snuggled up against you. His favorite place to rest his head? Right on top of yours.
Anyway, the point of this post isn’t for me to sit here and talk about how adorable I think my own dog is, ‘cus I mean, who isn’t good at doing that? The point of this post is to tell you guys a little bit about what I’ve learned about Dog-Mom-ing during these past three months…
For those of you who know me, you might be thinking, “but you’ve had dogs before.” And right you are! In high school, my family sort of inherited my oldest brother’s Lab/Shepard mix that he got while in college. And when I moved in with Alex, I joined in on taking care of Biff – our Jack Russel/Beagle rescue – too. I loved both of those dogs – and the baggage that came with each of them – with my whole heart, but this time I got to pick the dog and work my hardest to become “his person,” and so it’s a little different, you see?
WHAT MARTY HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT DOG-MOMING:
Be prepared to spend a ton of money in the beginning. You know those surveys that they hand out, about how much it costs to raise a child in today’s day and age? Well I want to see one for a puppy, ‘cus shit adds up real quick! Vet bills, neutering, training classes, quality food, treats and treats, and MORE TREATS!! Of course we knew this going in, but what we didn’t know was that we would have the world’s biggest bone chewer and therefore we buy this chomping dog of ours new bones pretty much weekly. Also, save yourself some money and don’t buy the expensive leash the first time around…
You will get through The Cone of Shame period. I know it doesn’t seem like it during, but just keep in mind, your dog hates that cone even more than your beat up shins and knicked up doorways do…
Check all of your pockets before you do your laundry. I promise you, you’ll do at least one load of laundry with a roll of poop bags or a pocketful of treats in there…it happens to the best of us.
You will learn to calculate your days not by normal time standards, but by how long you can leave your pup in his crate. You can handle this a couple of different ways. You can plan activities closer to home so that you can check-in and let your pup out more easily, or you can simply just bring him everywhere you go. We, personally, like to expose Marty to as much as possible so there won’t be any surprises later on. You’ll also become a pro at waking up earlier, tiring your dog out with walks and play sessions, thanking other dog owners for having an equally rambunctious pup for yours to play with, and then not feeling so bad when he lets himself into his crate and passes out for hours.
Getting into Doggy Daycare might just be harder than getting your child into a Charter School. It’s true! Maybe it’s just an LA thing, but there are actual tests you need to take your puppy to in order for him to be “accepted” into doggy daycare! And then they go through a trial period before they’re allowed to spend the night! And that’s assuming you can find a place that’s taking more dogs! We called for one in May and they didn’t have any openings until the end of July! Also, sitting in on those tests where you can watch how your pup is doing on a screen in another room is one of the most nerve-racking things ever. Do yourself a favor and just bring a magazine instead.
Your dog will fail you. When your pup doesn’t pass his Doggy Daycare test the first time (ahem, Marty), don’t get discouraged. Use it as an excuse to work even harder with him…or invest in a good trainer.
Take other people’s advice when they recommend a good trainer to you. This doesn’t mean that you have to commit right away. But if someone is telling you that they used a trainer that changed their lives, you better pick up the phone and call them immediately unless you want to spend every day for the rest of your life chasing your dog around the house when he grabs the remote controls… Schedule a preliminary meeting; you’ll find out right away if your dog responds well to that particular trainer or not.
Patience is a virtue. Something that our trainer said to us that really stood out to me was, “a puppy is learning every minute of every day.” For some reason that really clicked with me. Your pup won’t learn his name in a day. He won’t learn not to wake you up at 5:30am in a week. Hell, he may not learn to stop staring into the neighbors front door for a month! All you can do is be patient, don’t give up on training, don’t give in, and do apologize repeatedly to your neighbors. Also, wine helps. Wine always helps.
You will learn things you never thought you needed to learn before. Like how to replace a screen door, how to patch dog beds, and how to shower in under 3 minutes because you’re still afraid of leaving him unattended in your home for too long.
Owning a dog in LA will make you healthier. Why? Because most people in LA don’t have the luxury of a big backyard. Or even a small one for that matter. Which means you need to get your dog outside…a lot. You will walk your dog and your dog will walk you. And before you know it, you’ll have toned legs and a healthy tanned glow to your skin! You’ll be waking up earlier, you’ll be drinking less coffee because it’ll be cold by the time you can really sit down to enjoy it, and you’ll have built a ton more relationships with other dog owners in your area! Hey, thanks for that, pup!
Dogs don’t judge dogs, people do. I think we encounter it a lot, because of Marty’s breed, but there are a lot of people out there who immediately scoop up their dog when we enter the dog park. You know that saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Change “book” to “dog.” Some dogs play mouthy. Some dogs bark a lot when they play. Some dogs don’t want to play at all. They’re just like people, if they figure out they don’t like another dog, they’ll just walk away, so let them decide for themselves before you scoop yours up out of the dog park.
You will learn to slow down and to appreciate the view. I can’t tell you how many times Marty stops on any given walk and just lays down – a common stubborn trait among bull terriers. What used to annoy me to no end, now I’ve come to expect (I make extra time for walks now) and even enjoy (the ocean views aren’t so bad, you’re right Marty)…
You will become much more aware of parks and trails around you. Are we the only ones with a puppy that ends up sleeping the entire day through after being in a new place? If you’re a new puppy owner then you know how valuable this time can be, therefore you’ll find yourself googling every dog-friendly restaurant, trail, park, and beach in the area. You’ll also have all the dog parks in your area on a healthy rotation 😉
It’s okay to not look like everyone else in the dog park. Diversity makes us stronger! Right, Marty Party??
You will learn that there isn’t much that a little bit of coconut oil can’t fix…or a quick game of tug-and-fetch. When we first got Marty, we noticed that he had a big bald spot on his tail, which we lovingly referred to as his rat tail. It wasn’t until we talked to another Bully owner, that we learned the power of coconut oil on sensitive-skin dog breeds. Within a week of applying a dab of oil to the bald area twice a day, Marty started growing hair back! And now he no longer has that lovely rat tail 😉 Of course, coconut oil won’t fix annoying puppy habits like dragging your shoes around the apartment by the laces, but a little game of tug and fetch with their favorite toy will. Puppies just want your attention. It’s as simple as that.
You will grow much less attached to your material things. In turn, you may just become a Minimalist! Mostly because your puppy will put a few teeth marks in whatever it may be, if they don’t completely destroy it first. If there are things you know you will love forever, you will put those things away until further notice.
You will learn to appreciate your free time. Even if that means just having 30 minutes to lay on the couch and watch TV. Puppies are a lot of work, man, especially if you want them to be really really good once they’re older. Put in the time now, reap the rewards later, right? You won’t take a quiet moment at home for granted ever again, as quoted by Alex 😉
You will laugh everyday. Your heart will feel fuller. Because they have a way of doing that, these silly, wonderful pups of ours.
These past three months with our newest family addition have been a challenge. We went from a mellow pup that was content with sleeping the day away in his crate, to an energetic tornado of a pup who doesn’t quite realize his own size and strength yet. But you know what? He is a hoot. He fills our days up with laughter. He gets us up and enjoying each day earlier. He gets us out exploring places we’ve never been to before. And he gives the best cuddles of any dog I’ve ever known. It is so fascinating to watch a puppy become attached to you, and to watch them grow and learn a little more everyday. It’s the small victories, like finally responding to their name, that make all the hard work worth it. And it’s the funny quirks, like sitting down every time a dog passes us on a walk, that cause other people to stop and have a conversation with us. And although we’re still working on things – like stop barking at the front door at night, damnit! – we love this little rescue pup of ours, and we can’t imagine him being in any other home. We hope he feels the same way about us.
Laur, Al, & Marty the Bully