The night before bringing a puppy into our lives, I went to a friend’s birthday party. There were lots of people I knew there from my previous job as a teacher. Nearly every single person I spoke to and shared my news with had a dog themselves. Everybody was so excited for us.
‘You’re going to have so much fun.’
‘I absolutely love my dog.’
as well as…
‘Make sure you put away everything you don’t want chewed: slippers, the remote control, wellies, P’s homework…’ (I thought that was an urban myth!)
‘For six weeks it was chaos in our house.’
‘Be prepared to live with the mess for a while.’
Let the good times roll. I’ll keep you posted.
The night before we picked her up, I had some very odd and vivid dreams. In one, Margot was talking to me through a computer screen. (She told me that I had aggressive eyes. I’m not sure what my subconscious brain was trying to tell me there…!) But it gave me an idea for a section of the blog entitled ‘Margot says…’ where she can ‘talk’ through the words I imagine she is thinking. Let me know your thoughts.
‘I like it here. The outside space is big enough for me to run around in – my favourite game at the moment is chasing the big people from one end of the grass to the other. The big yellow ball travels quite fast too but I can’t quite get my mouth around it yet. I bet I can soon. Whatever this pink object is has two great textures for me to chew on – I’ll have shredded it in no time! There’s a second one out here somewhere.’
Before Margot’s arrival, I had a number of unanswered questions running through my mind, not least of all how long it would be before I discovered the answers…
- Will she bond with us quickly?
- Will she cry on the first night?
- Will she like her den (and the den wizard – more on that in a later post)?
- How much will she eat?
- Will she chew the furniture?
- Will she miss her siblings?
- What will she make of her outdoor space?
- Will she like the fox soft toy we have put in her bed?
- Will the harness and the collar we have bought be too big?
- How long before she grows out of the puppy bed?
- How will we all cope with the change? (My stomach was churning on the morning we picked her up.)
Margot has bonded with us really well in the few days that she has been in her new home. She trots out of the dining room whenever she hears us coming down the stairs and waits by the stair gate. It’s a relief all round. She loves being cuddled.
I’m not sure the ‘puppy bed’ will last very long… We bought one to keep Margot feeling secure in her den, although she prefers the big, fleecy mattress. So we got hold of a smaller version of that too for use outside the den. (The seat pad inside this tiny bed makes a comfier ‘chair’ on the hardwood floor so all is not lost.)
The feeding is going well. We are giving Margot the same dry food as Sarah the puppy lady did four times a day, using a ‘slow feed’ bowl my brother, one of my dog gurus recommended. (She has just managed to drag the metal water bowl out of the blue holder though… cue a puddle of water on the kitchen floor. But at least it is only water.)
Exploring the garden and all the new smells in it is definitely a favourite pastime. She has given all of the flowerbeds a jolly good sniff and runs in a figure of eight around some of the larger plants in one area. With the typical autumnal weather, we are frequently dodging the showers and spending time outside when we can. Earlier there was a thunderstorm – are dogs scared of these like they are fireworks? I’m yet to find out as Margot slept through it…
There was a bit of crying on the first night – but let’s face it, who can blame her really? I’m sure I’d have been the same. J and I were up in the middle of the night with her, but we didn’t hear her at all on the second night. Result!
I suspect she misses her siblings although she was one of only four pups left (out of a litter of ten) by the time we picked her up. Another piece of advice we followed was to take an old t-shirt on our second visit to see Margot, which we asked Sarah to put in her mother’s basket for a couple of nights. The smell of mum we hoped would soothe her and help her to settle. I think it is working – I wish I could ask her opinion.
One of the key things I learned from my pre-reading (!) is that puppies need to chew to relieve the pain from teething. (Not so different from babies in many ways apart from the amount of chewing time required on a daily basis – quite a bit more for puppies…) Whatever you leave around that she can get her sharp, little puppy teeth into, you are accepting that each of those objects is fair game. We don’t want Margot to stop the chewing, but we should instead give her different textures to chomp on for several hours a day. Foxy is soft, my old flip flops and surfing shoes are rubbery, the toy bone is quite hard – and I discovered this morning that the cardboard box which her additional fleecy mattress came in also works brilliantly as chewing material. When she starts biting at our clothes, our hands or the furniture, we are usually able to distract her with one of her accepted ‘chew toys’. (However, we have had to move one of the chairs out of her room as the wooden arms are just too perfect a size and shape to get her jaws around. Shame – because it was comfy to sit on in there with her.) Btw every day is a school day: apparently, biting and scratching at her bed is perfectly normal before a nap. It looks quite destructive to me though. Thank goodness for Google!
The new collar we put on her yesterday didn’t seem to bother her too much. It’s great because the reflective material shows up in the dark. At first the ID tag hung down too low from the metal D-ring so we reattached it to a softer part, which works better. (Sarah had different coloured puppy collars for identification purposes all with cute paw prints on them. Margot’s was black – I can’t bring myself to throw it away just yet.) The puppy harness is the next stage. I probably need to figure out how it works myself first. I’ll let you know how I get on in a future post.
Perfecting the sit. I’ll be honest with you – it’s not perfect after only two days, but we are all getting there slowly and consistently. (Another word I keep hearing about from all the dog gurus in various forms I have consulted.) I was worried about how we would all cope with the change, and it is definitely a huge learning curve for us all, Margot included. But it is certainly fun, exciting and tiring all rolled into one!
I’d love some feedback on my first blog post. Do you have any other dog guru advice for us? Any puppy stories of your own? Is there anything in particular you would like to know more about in terms of our dog journey? What about the content – are there enough photos, enough text, too much writing? It’s been fun putting it together. See you next Friday. (If you subscribe you should receive an email reminder. Give it a try and let’s see if it works!)
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12 responses to “Dog Blog #1 – Getting to Know You”
What a fab read! Having grown up with dogs myself (though we don’t have one atm) there was much I could relate to. A new puppy is wonderfully exciting and a big adventure for both the puppy and their family – I think this first blog shared your first few steps wonderfully – the pictures illustrate your experiences really well and I loved the ‘Margot says….’ section. We used to ‘voice’ our pets quite regularly so that bit did appeal! A lovely start K – can’t wait to read the next one!
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Thank you for your lovely comments, R. I’m so pleased that you could relate to our experiences and you like the pictures. Perhaps the next ‘Margot says…’ should have a reference to the small rectangular object I am pointing in her direction more often than not!
The third picture is my favourite one, which I shall copy for my Home Screen! Margot looks so inquisitive and cheeky, with her foot tucked in the sandal strap, to show her possessiveness! She also looks more confident, and is saying to me- “this is my toy; you’re not going to take this one away from me!!
Very much enjoyed reading about how Margot is settling down well in your family and home.
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Thanks, Phil – I’m so pleased to hear that you enjoyed reading the blog and looking at the photos. She’s very easy to point the camera at! Inquisitive and cheeky – yep, those adjectives are perfect…
When a child is born it will encounter this world for the first time. If it is lucky it will hear, smell, touch, taste and will certainly be hungry. It is a good parent who will teach the child how to enjoy their world. Margot does not have her parents. Margot only has you. You are a kind good person. That is all she needs with the help of P and J. I really like the way you are showing how she is looking at the world around her and learning how to adapt. You have chosen the photos well and I look forward to future photos especially looking at her eyes which will show how she is thinking . Do dogs smile for the camera as they get older? It will be interesting to see in future blogs that as you will spend more time with her she will take advantage of you and be good as gold for P &J.
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What an insightful comment. Thank you so much for your comment – it really made me smile! Especially your words about Margot taking advantage in the future. She is definitely as good as gold for J at the moment… x
Loving this, K! It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced life with a puppy…although one of my previous rescue dogs, Toddy, was about 8 months when we got him, so still very young, but he didn’t chew anything or need toilet training at all 😊 and Gali, our current girl, just seemed to immediately know what to do, in the house, garden and on her walks, which is amazing for an ex-street dog – does make us extremely lucky but rather lazy dog owners! Margot is utterly gorgeous and I think it’s a brilliant idea to document all your progress – that’s both yours and hers! – as a novice dog owner. You’ll be learning together, which will just make that bond even stronger. I’m so looking forward to hearing about how you get on. It sounds to me like you’re doing all the right things in raising Margot. I love the bit from her point of view as she experiences the world around her – our dogs have always had their own ‘voices’, so it feels very natural. The pictures are especially lovely – she’s got a very expressive little face. I think she’s going to be quite big…lots of lab there! Looking forward to the next instalment 🐕🦺xxx
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Thanks, M – she certainly has a very expressive little face. When she cocks her head to one side and looks up at me, it’s to die for. It’s definitely hard work and the days are long at the moment but she is ever so sweet. The chewing episodes are interesting to say the least! xx
Thanks for the blog, K. You are doing an amazing job: keeping us all sane as our life has been turned upside down. I really think that your narrative will be useful to first time dog owners like ourselves, exploring and stressing the important details such as the incessant need for puppies to bite on things. Nevertheless, Margot’s priceless gift to me has been the space to just breathe and feel in the present in those precious moments when she falls asleep in my arms 😍. J
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It’s certainly been a rollercoaster, but a journey on which we are all learning so much – about ourselves too. Thank you for your support as ever and the comment about the blog. xx
What a great blog. We are about to get a puppy of our own, so this is really helpful, as well as interesting. I really liked the “”Margot says” section. That could be a great regular feature. And the small sections of text interspersed with pictures keep it all light and make it easy to take in all the detail.
Thank you for your positive comment, Sam. I’m pleased to hear that you enjoyed reading the blog. I’m interested to hear more about your puppy – how exciting for you both!