A Year of Yes, Week 14: Puppy Training

I have always considered myself a cat person. As an adult I have cared for five cats in our home. Cats are wonderful. They love you, play lots, cuddle and most importantly are independent. I love the ease of traveling for the weekend and leaving enough food and water to suffice and never giving it a second thought. The luxury of waking when I want and spending the entire day out of the house letting spontaneity guide me as I have no burdens at home to think about.

When I was a child growing up in rural Connecticut, we had both cats and dogs. The dogs were easy as I recall but it was never my responsibility to care for them. They basically lived outside and came in to eat and sleep at night. There was really no training that I remember and the only lasting images in my mind are their friendliness and their distinct odour.

As our son has terrible cat allergies we’ve chosen to adopt a puppy because we felt that the kids should enjoy the pleasure of loving and caring for a pet. Our kids had been asking incessantly for an animal of their own for the last couple of years and we finally have a place where it would work for our family. Our new family member, Jack – a mini foxy, joined our family just one week ago. He is 10 weeks old and a ball of energy. Between sleepless nights while he whines the hours away crate training, the pissing on the floor and the chewing of anything that he can fit in his mouth we decided we need some serious help with training and fast.

We tried finding a local puppy obedience school but most had no availability for a couple of weeks and we really didn’t want to wait. Enter Margaret, a private trainer who comes to your home and helps people in our sort of predicament. There is so much to think about, so much psychological training and behavioural therapy, so many commands and rules and everyone in the house has to be consistent. Eye rolling big time over here. The weight of what I’ve just landed on myself is quickly becoming apparent. I suppose if we didn’t have three children and the hectic lifestyle that we do it would be fun to dote on a new puppy in the house, but we do.

On a positive, this experience has afforded me the opportunity to take things slower by allowing time to walk Jack with patience whilst he completes his business, to stop and play with this gorgeous little creature while I otherwise would be rushing to get things done, and allowing me more time to stroll outside and enjoy walks in the sunshine. People, lots of people, stop to say hello to us and our 4-pound little doggy. It’s truly amazing how friendly people are to dogs and their owners. In fact, there are so many people approaching me I can’t help but feel slighted for how they all ignored us before Jack. We literally did not exist or were not worthy of even a smile pre-Jack. It’s as if we are now part of some secret community that we were not privy too before.

Despite the strain on our time and energy at the moment I’m hopeful that our investment in a new companion will result in years of happy memories and an abundance of love. It has been an eye awakening experience on the work involved but the smiles on everyone’s faces as we watch our Jack play and do silly things has been wonderful.

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