(There have been so many interruptions to my attempts to sit down and write this blog that it’s now a week out of date! We’ve had Luna for five weeks, not four. Ach well… most of it still stands. Better done than perfect, right?)
This weekend marked a month since DorkyDog joined our family. It has been… quite possibly the longest month of my life.
She is hilarious and infuriating and sweet as a mid-summer peach.
One month on, it is hard to believe that this wiggly, confident, jolly little soul is the same puppy who had to be coaxed, trembling, out of her travel crate into DorkyDad’s lap.
Here is a quick rundown of our first month together.
She’s astonishingly good natured. We have had no snappy or grouchy behaviour, just full-on enthusiasm and friendliness for everyone and everything she has encountered.
Crate training is an absolute life-saver. Having a safe and secure spot to pop her during the day so I can get household chores and writing work done without being constantly tripped up has made a huge difference.
After a frustrating first couple of weeks, where we literally had to pull things out of her mouth every twenty seconds (TEDIOUS!) we’ve started picking our fights. Basically as long as it isn’t toxic or alive, she can chew on it. Precious things have been moved to higher ground. Everything remaining – firewood, the metal bars of her crate, DorkySon’s old deflated AFL ball, cardboard tubes plucked from the recycling pile – are all fair game.
She now sleeps all night – 9pm to 7am – without needing to be let out for a wee. As the designated getter-upper, I’m delighted. After almost a month of 3am wake ups I was starting to find myself back in the foggy head space I remember from having a newborn baby: loading the dishwasher but forgetting to turn it on, getting dressed without noticing that my clothes were inside out or back to front or (on one occasion) both. I will miss seeing those lovely clear Tassie night skies… but honestly not that much.
It’s been fun seeing her start to learn our routines and how she can fit in with them. When I make coffee in the morning she knows that’s time to go up and see DorkyDad so she’ll sit by the kitchen door until I open it and let her race upstairs. When the bus and car traffic starts to get busier outside our house in the afternoons, she knows it’s almost time for DorkySon to come home from school so she sits and watches the gate until he arrives.
She’s now fully vaccinated which has allowed us to start getting out and about more often. We are lucky to have a dog-friendly beach nearby and a big open park area just across the road – both of which she finds very exciting. I’ve been so grateful for how thoughtful most other dog owners have been about giving her space and putting their own dogs back on-lead when they see her coming.
Teaching her commands is deeply satisfying and totally satisfies my inner brag-mom. She’s pretty good with sit, stay, down, drop, and paw… although I’m well aware that when we start puppy classes next weekend in a room full of distractions, she’ll forget everything she knows and we’ll be back to square one.
Puppy gastro. Bloody hell. We are averaging one vet visit a week so far, and as we’re still in the waiting period for pet insurance none of it has been covered. I’m hoping her digestive system matures nice and quickly because it feels ridiculous to be spending $80 a bag on dry food for sensitive tummies when she then goes into the garden and chows down on slugs, soil and sticks for dessert.
I knew the first couple of weeks would be really hard but I don’t think I anticipated quite how hard. At some point in week two I found myself making a list for the day that included things like ‘brush teeth’ and ‘empty washing machine’ because I knew if I didn’t write down every single thing I’d forget the absolute basics. I reckon if there’s a puppy in your future the best approach is to lower your expectations for productivity and celebrate small wins. The first time she took a solid two hour nap and let me get some work done was a revelation.
Remembering how utterly miserable and resentful I become when my sleep is disturbed. It makes me wonder how any of us survived early parenthood.
The silent, mental calculations that all three human family members are doing. Who deserves to be more tired? Whose turn is it to take her out in the rain? Who gets to sit down for five minutes without anything being asked of them?
DorkySon’s face when he learned what a pizzle stick actually is.
Her delight at finding forbidden things. A cloth napkin that had fallen on the floor, a gumboot, a slipper, DorkySon’s toes when he comes home from school and flings off his socks… she’s like a mischievous puppy straight from central casting and it’s hard to be stern with her when she’s so thrilled with herself.
Sometime very early on she got a piece of dry kibble stuck in her paw and clacked round the kitchen sounding like a pirate dog. Slightly embarrassed to admit how long I laughed for before helping her get it out.
Ditto when she did got stuck between her bed and her blanket and yeeted herself around the room crashing into walls.
We’ve wrestled her into a bath twice so far. She doesn’t seem to mind it too much, but it makes her so amped up that she spends an hour afterwards doing puppy zoomies. And DorkyDad and I needed a full change of clothes… So the mobile groomer is coming on Friday and whatever she charges it will be worth it. No amount of money in the world would make me shut myself in a small trailer with a puppy and a set of clippers.
Who knew that having a puppy would bring so many opportunities to come up with nicknames? I think for now we are settled on Luna Bear, but we have also worked our way through Loopy Loo, Luna Mactavish, Miss Giggles, June Bug, Pickle, Gumnut, Gumnut McPickle, and Luna Stinky Fartpants. Unless something changes, that last one is a keeper.
Hi new dog owner.
please try feeding your new pooch food from your kitchen rather than a bag. A great dog food can be made by poaching chicken breast and mixing it with brown rice. Make up a big supply and freeze it in dinner sizes. You shouldn’t get any more gastro. The bagged dog food – no matter how expensive is not made with any sort of quality control. No one regulates what goes into that stuff. Lots of dogs have developed pancreatic problems. If you wouldn’t eat it yourself neither should your dog.
Yes its another chore to cook for a dog but dogs have evolved to live with humans, from table scraps. Ask yourself why that stuff in the bag last for as long as it does. Must have huge amount of preservatives in it. Altho some have been found to grow hideous mold.
Laughed and nearly cried with you Ruth. My truth is no way I’m persuaded to take on a puppy regardless it’s cuteness, though I have been very tempted. As Cloudboxes writes, a thumbs up, for all the folks I know with fur kids use her methodology to eliminate gastro issues.
Have fun with Lunapup, Lunapop or… whatever fits. xx
what a sweetheart and what glorious colouring she has. but yes a puppy is sooooo much work. good on you!
I’m with Cloudboxes. I have always fed my dogs with homemade food. Either chicken or mince meat with brown rice and carrot. You can add leftover broccoli, parsley etc. No salt. It makes up like a stew because you add water. As Cloudboxes said – freeze it into meals. It doesn’t take long to cook and you will feel so much better when you smell the food you are heating up each day. Also, because the dog is eating something similar to you it wont be wanting to hassle you for your dinner. Also fresh meat bones from the butcher section of the supermarket for chewing outside on the grass – unless buried for later. Dry kibble can be given for a small snack but its just as easy to bake up some dog biscuits. I have never had a dog have stomach upsets on this diet. Puppy is beautiful. Enjoy.
Oh boy… that first month sounded very full on. Has definitely put me off getting a puppy as opposed to an adult dog. Sounds just like having a baby, but actually, more demanding. I know of so many stories of puppies with funny tummies and eating something she shouldn’t have (e.g. a sock) and then a very expensive visit to the vet. Hope things are better now! (but all your hard work will be so worth it in the end).