Exciting times – you have new puppy!
Better than all your birthdays put together. A complete package of such cuteness that your insides turn to warm caramel. A huggable, wriggly, kissing snuggler. Gaze affectionately at your deep sleeping pal and watch them dream of adventures in grassy fields, snuffling under leaves and sighing contentedly at your feet.
In anticipation of this living pleasure you blew your credit card to the enthusiastic pet store. A crate for safe sleeping lined with soft, cosy bedding. Expensive puppy toys scientifically manufactured to provide the perfect psychological enrichment. Food that would shame Harrod’s Food Hall with exclusive ingredients. Designer bowls that are just the right shade of colour and pattern to match the bedding, crate, cover and coat. A full wardrobe of miniature lead and collar, harnesses, jackets, brushes, combs and shampoos. Puppy pads for accidents, extra fencing for the garden, a picker-up of poo and a lifetime supply of bags.
To follow the enthusiasm of your pet store you will be welcomed with professional enthusiasm by your local veterinary practice as they introduce you to the reality of private medicine. The gloom of future bills will be brightened by an insurance policy that will equal the equivalent of a small people carrier.
Three weeks of sleeping on the sofa should be anticipated to ensure you do not enter the nightmare of hostile neighbours. Puppies can scream for several hours, break your heart and kill any chance of your enjoyment of the following day companionship as they sleep soundly.
Six weeks of uninvited strangers fondling the cute package craddled in your arms. Your diligence at providing the perfect socialisation will introduce you to canine versions of paedophiles. Entire, large, mature male dogs seeking hormonal relief, with equally passionate owners full of absurdly mythical advice.
Nine weeks of boisterous playtime that you embark upon in the hopes of some quiet time when you may wish to go out for dinner.
Twelve weeks of life-by-chewing. Every surface that can be contained within the expanding mouth will be tested for taste, resistance to needle sharp pressure, nibbled for relief of boredom. That which is not fixed to the house will be researched for mobility and digestibility in both small and large chunks which may or may not arrive out the other end. Experienced friends will boast that lack of appropriate production will result in a four figure private medicine bill for the extraction surgery and after-care.
At this point in time the object of your emotional investment, increasing debt and loss of social life will be planning their career path to Be More Dog than you would care to share your life with.
The illusion of pleasant walks will turn into a contest of wills, wrestling with ridiculous pieces of equipment designed to keep your arm joints in working order and a dog that embarrasses you at every opportunity. People that were previously gravitated to your package of cuteness now cross the road to avoid the pavement swimming, hoarse breathing, rasping, lunging, swearing alien.
A beautiful day at the park represents a frequent view of their anus and the finger-up tail as they disappear to spend three hours of cruising the local gangs and wildlife. A walk together is dismissed in seconds as their rising instincts sends them on a mission to seek sex, kill critters and eat rubbish in any order, or even all at the same time.
Visitors find excuses not to come to your house. Dinner invitations have dried up. Weekends away have completely evaporated. Sales reps, delivery guys and your local postie have warning graffiti on your gatepost.
This bag of hormones will hump anything that can serve the function and respond to urinary messaging at every opportunity.
Playtime has matured to serious combat sport that requires dedicated clothing.
You are now ready to consider swapping this mistake for a loaf of bread. All the ungratefulness and lack of appreciation will dispel the fondest memories. You begin to take detours pass the local rescue centres. Can you stand the embarrassment of seeking help?
Taking on any young animal is a long term responsibility which will demand more time than you imagine, more expense that you could consider and a serious change in your lifestyle. That is the reality. Impulse buying the wrong sofa can be rectified if you swallow the expense. Impulse buying a puppy can result in personal grief for you and your family and quite possibly result in a very unhappy future or end the life of that puppy.
But, if a puppy is your life-goal then plan it well, consider the 15 year costs and benefits. Do the research. Visit dog training classes, talk to their clients, talk to the teachers. Feel the sharp end and volunteer at the local rescue centre. See the type of gambling you are toying with. This type of gambling is not just losing what you can afford, but destroying the well-being of another animal.
Research the inherited functionality of a breed, do not choose on kerb appeal or to compliment your ego. Reality is that collies can chase moving objects: every single car, bike, bus, lorry, bird, child, low flying jet. Reality is that gundogs want to hunt 12 hours a day though mud, pond, bramble and forest. Reality is that terriers can chase for England and kill ten Guinea Pigs in sixty seconds.
If you want a double-coated breed that is designed for living outdoors then seek a career with a vacuum cleaning company. You will learn more about the inner workings of all types of cleaning equipment and develop a seriously good tool kit for extracting the coat-wedges deep in the pipes. The insulating hair will coat every part of your house and have a particular fondness for all fabric parts inside your car.
Go to a breed show and talk to the specialists that have met the reality of their passion head on and still maintain that passion. These are the people whose love of their dogs is strong enough and big enough to see them through the tough times. The tough times are unavoidable, but with support, the inexperienced can survive. When they are three years old you will find you love them again.
Having done your research take a hard and realistic look at your life style and ask the brutal questions. Are you going to give up luxury furnishings, a pretty garden and change your social life? Have you neighbours that will ignore day-long howling whilst you work on your career? Will you be able to maintain the self-discipline to be up and out at 6am on a dark, wet, winter morning? Will you be able to give up the holidays, spontaneous weekends away and evenings out?
Will your love and responsibility be up to the high demands of parenting a young animal?
It takes an hour to acquire a puppy.
It may take many, many months before you realise that this was a really serious mistake. You may be able to walk away from your error, but will the pup?