People who write blogs seem to be in the lofty position of giving advice: "9 tips for..." "7 ways to..." "28.63 things you must..." When it comes to dog rearing, my position is the antithesis of 'lofty'. I'm not even on ground level. 'Mordor' feels like a conservative estimation. It goes without saying - I bloody love my dog. I actually can't (and don't want to) imagine my life without her. But sitting here, drinking the world's largest vat of tea - purely for medicinal reasons - after being unable to remove Hettie from the plastic Tesco ham container she proceeded to lick clean before tearing into tiny strips, ingesting each and every one (did I mention that I was calling her name, offering her treats and pathetically attempting to catch her in full view of all Kelvingrove Park patrons while she destructed the container over a 15 minute period?), I thought I would take a moment to share - not tips - but truths of dog parenting as I know them.
1) They will be on your couch
Yes, you indulgently ordered that fawn and cream plaid M&S sofa on interest free credit as the perfect addition to your pre-dog owning flat. Yes, you swore the dog would never be allowed on said prized sofa... but that was until she looked REALLY cute and you decided she could have a little couch visit BUT ONLY if she sat on the throw rug you perfectly positioned for her. A few weeks pass... okay, forget the annoying fucking throw rug. She's on the couch. I mean, a dog is there to be cuddled, right?
2) They will be in your bed
This was your BIG rule. After all, there have got to be boundaries and your wife's penchant for white sheets and your decision to adopt a black dog are about as compatible as a drag queen at a power tools convention. But then, she lets out a sweet little 'hug me, I've missed you' yelp at 6am. You open your eyes to see her sat, ever-so-adorably looking up at you with the cutest eyes and an oh-so-slightly cocked head and, in your sleepy haze, you've got a decision to make:
1. Tell her to go back to bed knowing she will be back in exactly 30mins to yelp again...
2. Get up early like a better person than you actually are, put on your sweats and take the dog on a brisk jog around the park before an ethical, vegan breakfast of pulses.
Or 3. (and it's a big 3) let her up on the bed safe in the knowledge she'll sleep in for as long as you're willing to let her.
Make no mistake, they will be in your bed.
3) Training is not linear
Dogs want to obey, right? They enjoy responding to commands for treats (which may be in the form of your attention or food - two things they absolutely value equally) - in fact, training increases the bond between you and your pet. Written firmly at the top of the doggy manual, this is true to an extent. The extent to which your dog, who happily sits and stays and heels in the comfort of your lounge room, decides that your treats (and certainly your pathetic company) pale in comparison to that decomposing squirrel carcass, that other dogs' arsehole or that manky hole filled with fetid, stagnant mud. The feeling you get as she - hearing your calls - looks up at you, twitches her nose, then dives back into devouring whatever godforsaken filth she has discovered, only this time on some kind of deranged fast forward setting because there is now the very real possibility that you will storm over there and drag her away from it.... or worse still, the feeling when YOU KNOW she can hear you (because she can hear you opening the kitchen treat cupboard from 3 blocks away) but chooses to carry on doing what she's doing, ignoring your maniacally high-pitched command to (please!) COME... is the most specific kind of soul-destroying feeling you will ever experience. But, amid the misery know this: tomorrow you will sit in a bustling cafe - aggressively bashing out a blog article dedicated to your dog's miserable behaviour and she will sit, faithfully and loyally, right by your side.
4) They will behave better with every other human being than you
Yes EVERY OTHER human being. Especially, and most irritatingly, that smug cargo-trousers wearing Cesar Millan wannabe dog trainer who smirks like they've just taught your pooch how to hula-hoop with a plate balanced on her nose when, in fact, they've just called her name. Of course, she responds immediately and sits perfectly at their feet at full attention. Thanks Hettie. Now you have to endure yet another 30 minute lecture about how your treats aren't tasty enough, your toys aren't colourful / squeaky / interesting enough and how much your timing / tone / general existence sucks.
5) They will make you grow up over night
Without even acknowledging it, you've kind of felt like a kid your entire life; "adult" seemed to refer to your parents much more so than you. Yet, this will all change in an instant. One moment you're pondering which pub to meet at for seemingly unending rounds of Cards Against Humanity and the next you are (literally) taking a tiny puppy from her mother (meanwhile, why does nobody ever mention this?! Nothing will prepare you for the utter anguish... it's horrible!), from the delightful Derbyshire farm of her birth and ferreting her back to your one-bedroom flat. In Glasgow. Those little terrified eyes will look up at you and you'll be struck with the deepest and most incredible feeling of responsibility for this little life. You will Google "doggy slow feeders" because you're concerned with how quickly she gorges her dinner. You will Google "why is my dog's poo like Mr Whippy ice cream", "can dogs eat stones", "do dogs ..." yeah, you're gonna Google a lot of shit.
6) They're the best kind of Humanity Barometer
From the quiet smiles of those who pass you both in the street, the squeals of kids as she bounds towards them at the beach to the friendly head-tussles and banter she sparks amongst fellow pub patrons; your four-legged friend will shine a light on all the big animal-loving hearts around you. Fascinated by everyone and judging no one, she'll bring great joy to family, friends and strangers alike - making the most humbling kind of connections - perhaps including a woman who, amid slobbery doggy kisses, tells you what it means not to be judged by her homelessness but to be taken for who she is.
7) They'll enrich your life more than you ever thought possible
Very true, but only listed because some American said I needed 7 dot points for this article to be memorable. Remember, I'm aiming for 'lofty'...
Go on, share your crazy / wonderful / nightmarish puppy stories below!
Also on the Love Blog...
A big dollop of love from my finger tips to your screen (I promise that's not as creepy as it sounds). xx