How having a puppy set us
up for parenthood.
I'd been scouring the internet for Cavapoo puppies and decided to try Pets4Homes… low and behold a one-liner advert “Cavapoo puppies. £600. Birmingham” followed by a photo that looked like it’d been taken on a Nokia3310 and a mobile number. 5 minutes later the appointment had been made and 2 days later, we travelled to Birmingham. Connor reminded me for the whole journey that “We’re not rushing into this decision and buying a puppy for the sake of it, we should shop around. Don't fall in love at first sight.” It took all of 30 seconds of meeting the fluffy, mixed brown, sh*t-advert puppy for us to scurry to the closest cashpoint and thrust the money for the last girl of the litter in the breeder's face.
The 4-week wait to bring Pepper home (named after Pepper Potts, Iron Man) was much like the last few weeks of waiting for the baby to arrive. Preparing her little corner where she’d sleep, buying toys and treats, letting the neighbours know we are expecting a new arrival, doing research on training tips, spending Saturday nights reading YourDog, planning dog walks, getting impatient and simply desperate for the next chapter of our lives to start.
Collecting Pepper was eventful, to say the least. All prepped and primed - dog bed in the car, toys at the ready, doggy seatbelt. The new puppy parents were prepared. What could go wrong? Halfway down the M25, she starts making a weird gurgling noise, lifting her up (like that scene in The Lion King) to inspect if our new puppy was broken, she was sick all over me. Welcome to parenthood.
We were the crazy dog parents and she went everywhere with us and I can truly say Pepper set us up for parenthood. Let's fast forward 3 years (we’re quick movers, I know…) The ways in which she's helped us become parents (to a baby this time, no more puppies just yet!) are extremely obvious so thank you, Princess Pepper!
Before Pep, life was pretty carefree. Post work Friday night beers? I’m there. Then everything changed. You suddenly realise that you can't be out all hours of the night because there’s a bundle of fluff sat at the front door waiting and wondering when you’re returning home because they need a poo/wee and to play. 1 beer and you’re calling it a night.
2. Controlled crying
Those first nights were… loud. Our poor neighbours (we lived in an apartment block!). She screeched and howled. We lay in bed, desperate to comfort her and stop her crying but that went against all of the puppy books! We were teaching her the ropes, we were disciplining. How adult of us! (For the avoidance of doubt, we haven’t practised this with the baby - we do tend to him when he cries but you see the similarity.)
3. The sleepless nights and toodaloo lay ins
The crying didn't stop for a far few days and the sleep was pretty broken (much like the early days with the baby) but that didn't mean a lay in was on the cards. Come 6am, rain or shine, you’d find one of us trawling the apartment block gardens, eyes barely open desperately trying to get this little nocturnal creature to do a poo or a wee. 5 minutes or 20 minutes? Who knows. Puppy poop roulette.
4. There's no “I” in Team
Having a puppy makes you figure out how you and your partner work as a team. How to split the night shifts (ours were heavily uneven, sorry Connor but the dog can only have one master and I need my sleep to function), how to discipline and essentially how you can care for a little pup without bursting into a blazing row about how one of you measured out its food incorrectly or whose turn it is to do the dreaded morning walk in the crap weather. Or more recently… whose turn it is to change the nappy.
The downside of having a dog. The bit nobody likes to do but it makes you a parent (and you’ll get fined if you don’t pick it up). Eventually, you become okay with it. You just get on with it and you’ll happily pick up YOUR dogs… under no circumstances will I pick up another dogs poo. A bit like changing the baby's nappy… Sorry mum friends but I’ll only change my childs’.
6. Damage control
You have to think ahead and try to mitigate every situation that could possibly arise. Put the shoes away, buy a pen, get them lots of toys to keep them interested. What you don't think of is the dog chewing the walls or tearing through a recycling bag full of rubbish and finding it scattered across the living room as a welcome home ‘gift’. Similar to baby-proofing the house, except we’ve yet to do this and only this morning the baby pulled over the lamp. Seems we’ve yet to learn.
7. The Vets
You turn into a worrier. The dog ate chocolate. Trip to the vets. The dog ate the entire fruit bowl. Trip to the vets. The dog’s fallen in a potentially toxic lake (True story - We now know it wasn't toxic but we were neurotic puppy parents who’d just moved house and it’d all got a bit much). Trip to the vets. You get used to the professionals looking at you like you’ve lost your mind as your dog is on their best behaviour, tail a-wagging whilst the vet gives you a reassuring nod and says “She's all fine!”
Fancy a night out together? You need a sitter. Fancy going on holiday? Muuuuuuum. Work event? *Scrolls through WhatsApp to find any appropriate friend that you trust with your first furry born*. It's the same situation with the baby, just now it’s gone from “Could you have Pepper this weekend?” to “Could you have Pepper AND Bobby this weekend?” …Safe to say our squad is at full capacity and we won't be adding any new members anytime soon as we may have to branch outside of grandparents and the chance of being able to get 2 sitters in one night is near impossible.
Pep continues to teach us how to care for something other than ourselves. She forces us to be less selfish and has bought me and Connor closer than we’d ever been. She continues to be nothing short of the most perfect (our friends and family will vouch for this!), well-behaved dog that has filled both of our lives with absolute joy and happiness. She’s the BEST big sister and tolerates B’s pulling on her fur with nothing but sigh and walk away. She’s the dog that keeps on giving and showed us how to be parents long before a baby was even on the cards.