Are you a cat or a dog person? I have never identified myself as either; in fact both labels annoy me equally as I’ve never wanted to choose between cats and dogs.
The reason I have had a cat for the last 11 years is purely down to the fact that cats are low maintenance. Think about it: they don’t need walks, or arduous training; they sleep for 18 hours a day and they prefer their own company – simply because in their minds they are far superior to all God’s creatures, including us humans.
Most recently, I have taken the plunge and got a dog after months of begging and borrowing other people’s pooches. And at 19 weeks, while it is still early days, doggo has put me through my paces into becoming a certified member of dog owners club and discover exactly what happens to people when they find themselves the proud owners of a canine.
You will become a morning person
Gone are the days of hitting the snooze button five times, drawing the blanket over your head and going back to bed. Also gone are the tonnes of useless tomes you once invested in that promised to turn you into a morning person and delivered poorly. Who knew you just needed a pup?
Anyone who’s raised a puppy would know they are balls of boundless energy at 6am only to flop and fall into a deep slumber by 10pm. Particularly in the first few tricky months of toilet training, requiring you to set your alarm every hour on the hour to step outside with your pooch and repeat ‘potty, potty’ like a demented person, you will find out that the days of Netflix and chilling till the early hours of the morning and sleeping in the next day are over. Pup doesn’t care if it’s a Sunday if she has to go, she has to go.
You’ll become a keen walker
Forget being a cat-owning, binge-eating, horizontal-chilling couch potato who dreads autumnal walks. I have. All my life I thought walking without a purpose was pointless. I still do, to be fair. Only now, with a pooch in tow, who desperately needs to empty her bowels and stretch her legs as well as have some quality time with her human, walking has come to have a purpose. And it’s not all that dreadful.
You will buy, buy, buy…
You may not be a shopaholic at heart but looking after a defenceless small creature who needs you to survive and thrive, you find yourself wanting to pamper your pooch. Hence come the toys, the chews, the beds, the food of varying brands and flavours until you’re convinced you’ve found the best in the market. Doggy gift boxes like Bark Box or Viva Dogs are optional but I guarantee you will get one within the first few weeks.
You will become an amateur canine expert
Within days of acquiring a pooch, you’ve bought a copy of Your Dog magazine, subscribed to doggy gift boxes, filled a box full of dog toys, and consumed five hours of canine training videos on YouTube. You have more or less an idea – however ill-informed it may be – on anything canine, from daily food consumption limits to crate training, from the tricks of toilet training to the best leashes in the market.
Your phone will run out of space
It’s only natural. Here’s is a furry little things finding her feet, discovering how to jump and to fall, not quite gauging the height of the couch, falling asleep sitting up, and generally looking cute and cuddly. Every moment is a new photo opportunity. Or, a “Kodak moment”, as we used to call them in the ‘90s. Upgrade your storage immediately!
Your will cultivate a love for the great outdoors
For years you thought of yourself as an indoors person in permanent quest of hygge – not for you, the hilly hikes, or long walks on the beach on a breezy October morning, more for you, a candlelit evening in curled under a blanket with a book and a cup of tea. Upon acquiring a pooch, your inner outdoorsy person will burst out. You may find yourself investing in waterproofs, Wellingtons and hiking guides.
You will make plans around doggie
Much like your day to day routine, all your plans change when you become a proud pooch pawrent. Holidays need to involve an element of dog care at home or abroad and you find yourself shelving dreams of that five-star beachfront resort in exchange for an extended weekend in a dog-friendly bungalow in Norfolk, without begrudging the doggo even a smidgen.
You will join a a select club of dog owners
Kiss your introverted days goodbye. Once attached to the end of a leash, you will instantly exude extroverted dog owner vibes. Every time you come across one of your tribe at the end of their respective canine umbilical, it is guaranteed that the conversation will go along the lines of “Is he/she friendly? What breed? How old? What’s the name?” followed by much relished tales of pets past and present. While the introvert is not too fussed to skip these conversations all together, your newly discovered extraverted side feels the snub when a dog walker slips past without the obligatory doggy chat.
You will begin thinking in milestones
Weekly milestones, then monthly ones. While you don’t want to compare your dog to others, secretly you will be wondering if she is hitting the right milestones at the right time. “Should we have managed potty training by now?” you wonder around 15 weeks, “should we have begun recall training much earlier?” you ponder at 18 weeks. While constantly documenting her weeks.
You will thank your mother
The closest you will ever get to caring for a living thing without bringing it forth from your loins is owning a dog. You will worry about their diet, their coat, joints, ears, eyes daily, you will find yourself checking their mouths and taking out the oddest things, you will clean puke, pee and poop without a care in the world, tidy and clean up after them without a fuss. Your heart will burst with joy at the mere sight of them, and you can’t even bear the thought of them coming to any harm. All this will of course remind you of all the trouble you put your mum through and how many sleepless nights she spent looking after you, cleaning up after you, nursing you and educating you. You will find yourself finally feeling a smidgen of the boundless, unconditional love she feels for you.