Our First Puppy: The Year in Review

by Melissa R. on January 17, 2014

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

Wow. I never would have imagined how much TIME having a puppy would mean. I tried hard to visualize what all went on with having a puppy before getting one, but I don’t think you can fully grasp the situation until you are actually there.

We went from a 13 year old laid back dog-home, to a SPITFIRE of a puppy-home: 24/7 non-stop ACTION whether we wanted to or not.

Emme was a winter puppy, so this meant countless trips outside for me in the dead of winter – not something I relished. I spent more time outside this past winter than I probably have since I was a child. We had paths shoveled around the yard for Emme so we could potty with all the snow and have some places to walk. When she got older, we were able to use the lake to run on, which was a great thing because it meant energy release for her. I learned to bundle up, and chanted over and over “the cold is just uncomfortable. . . not painful. . .”

Duck Toller Puppy

Duck Toller Puppy

Sleepless nights with crying puppy were bountiful, and just when we thought we couldn’t take it anymore, we got it figured out and finally began to have peaceful nights. Read that story here.

The living room furniture got moved around, so as to make more room for the boundless bundle of energy, and to give her less spots she could be out of view and squat to pee. Outside, inside, outside, inside. I invested in paper toweling and gallons of cleaner. I got a bum knee from kneeling so much to clean up! But soon, we started forming habits and my knee got better and I only had to stock up on paper towels once a month. It was though, the winter to end all winters. It lasted FOREVER. It would never end. The cold, the snow, the cold. But we finally made it through (barely).

puppy3 And then we learned what spring with a new puppy is like: muddy paws, holes being dug, messes being made. The garden was re-done, fenced up to keep puppy out! I learned to wear my dirtiest, oldest clothes going on walks, shuffled around morning rituals to get walks in the morning prior to getting ready, and wondered if having a nice, peaceful walk would ever occur. Oh the countless walks where it all ended in frustration! And trying to teach excited puppy to stand still while getting their muddy paws wiped off was a feat in itself! I do vividly recall the one day, late spring, when she actually sat nicely for me for a moment, just a moment. . . and I saw a glimmer of hope.

puppy4 Slowly, slowly, we got potty trained, leash trained, crate trained, obedience trained, people trained and so much more. Now, Emme is pretty well grown-up. She’s still a PUPPY for sure, full of energy and ready to take on anything – but we’ve got all our bases covered (we hope). She goes out on her own, in fact, sometimes won’t go out if I ask her if she has to potty. So she even knows when she has to go nowadays. When we come in with muddy paws, she sits politely (mostly) while I wipe one paw, then the other. Half the time she is in her crate before I even think it is time. Walks can still be a bit of a challenge, but we persevere. It will be an interesting winter this year, to see how things compare to last winter.

All in all, it’s been an adventure I’m sure I will never forget and will someday wonder why I thought it was all so difficult, and marvel at the amazing dog we raised. I’m looking forward to the next year to see where we go. . .

About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa R. January 27, 2014 at 9:46 am


Susan Brunn February 23, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Love this article. I think my husband and I match this story almost to a tee. Went from a laid back 14 year old dog to a rescue puppy on Feb 3 2014. Nothing says love like standing outside at 5:30 AM in -2 degrees Fahrenheit. This past few weeks we learned to keep our boots coats gloves and leash by the back door at al times. Challenging at times but ever rewarding! We are starting puppy classes this Friday. Looking forward to many years with our new girl!

sharon952 October 9, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Not much difference between children and dogs. As they grew up my 2 dogs heard my toilet flush, they were let out as soon as I came out, so the sound was associated with doing business. This made it pretty easy. Flush the toilet every half hour and then take the pup out. Lots of praise and “good girl” and treats. Half hour later repeat. As the dog gets older the half hour can be lengthened. Dogs get the idea very fast. Staying out with the puppies has 2 purposes. Praise is needed as soon as possible after the deed is done. And second, puppies can be small enough for some birds to take to their nesting grounds to teach the chick’s how to hunt. Guarding the newest member of the family is vital for safety.

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