I never appreciated, as a child, the work my mum put into turning our dogs into the well behaved, well trained, well adjusted creatures they all were. But I tell you what, I do now.
Having a dog is hard work.
As with children, you have to put the needs of another before your own at all times, which can take a bit of adjustment.
In my case, getting out of bed around 6 o’clock every morning to “see to the dog” has made me glad that I was already on the way to becoming an “early to bed, early to rise” type.
Except now, I don’t really get the “early to bed” bit, since I have to wait for the whole family to be settled in their beds before I can calm the dog down sufficiently to get to bed myself.
I am also getting a lot of exercise – walking the dog is the only way to get her to settle down in the house and stop her doing the “three B’s” – biting, begging and barking. When restless, she nips playfully at us and everything around her, can be a pest at mealtimes and patrols the garden trying to spot our neighbour – and warn him off.
Unfortunately, she seems disinclined to run after a ball or toy, meaning that usually I am covering almost the same distances as her, apart from when she is busy chasing after other dogs on the park – one of her favourite things, happily.
Don’t get me wrong, it may be tiring, and difficult at times, but it is an enjoyable process for the most part.
I’m pretty sure I’m getting fitter, which is also much appreciated. Over time, as my stamina and the dog’s attachment and obedience increases, things will get easier.
Surprisingly (to me at least) I am managing to fit in a bit of sewing. Like making this little fungi fellow.
I’m not sewing every day, because sometimes Lupin just won’t sit still long enough. And sometimes, the process of tiring out Lupin tires me out too.
So much so that during her doggy naps, when I should be getting stuff done, I am often also to be found crashed out on the sofa.
Inviting a dog into your life necessitates trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to understand this mystery – to some extent, at least.
Last weekend we invited Lupin, a crossbreed rescue dog who was born on the streets of Romania, into our lives, and my week has been mostly taken up with dog psychology.
I had expected my time to be filled by walking, training and cleaning up after our new housemate, but I had not anticipated this constant puzzling out of motive, avid reading up on pack behaviour and necessary modification of my own demeanour to become pack leader.
It is both fascinating and wonderful.
Some things I have learned this week…
… there is something mind-blowingly amazing about sharing your life and your space with a living, thinking, feeling member of another species.
… such an arrangement demands a willingness to adapt – by both sides.
… a distressed dog, cooped up in an unfamiliar car with strangers, can produce a remarkable quantity of drool within the duration of a short journey.
… looking after a young dog is not unlike parenting a small, boisterous child. You have to mean what you say and give exuberant and exaggerated praise for good behaviour. You also must demonstrate the patience of a saint – including whilst sleep-deprived.
… rainwater from a bucket in the garden is the nectar of the gods, whilst clean water in a dog bowl is an entirely unappealing substance.
… just because a dog can learn things, doesn’t mean it will.
… if humans shed as many hairs per day as dogs we would all be bald within a week.
… cheap plastic dog toys are about as durable in use as wet tissue paper.
… a happy dog is a tired dog. And a tired dog makes for a happy owner.
… people who post endless photos of their dogs on social media are not unimaginative, they probably just don’t have time for taking pictures of anything much else.
I am happy to say that despite a lack of sleep due to early mornings and Lupin’s distress at bedtimes, we are all doing well in our process of adjustment. She has already mastered coming to our call, not freaking out in the car and not peeing or pooping in the house. These are considerable achievements.
And last night she took only fifteen minutes to settle at night, without any of her previous escape attempts or destruction.
All of this hasn’t left time for much else, so apologies to those who may have messaged, or whom I have neglected on social media this week. I expect things to settle down soon.
Needless to say, lad, having wanted a dog since he was but a pup himself, is overjoyed.
We are all, pretty much, in a state of new-found love.
Including, I think I can say from my observations, Lupin. ♥