Being a puppy parent is exciting, exhausting and so many other things!
Though we had puppies twice when I was a child, I wasn’t in charge of them. When my husband and I got our first canine friend 14 years ago, it was a different story. We learned about taking care of and training a puppy with all the patience it takes.
Even though puppy parenthood isn’t exactly the same as child parenthood, it’s definitely a good starter course to being responsible for someone else who relies on you for everything and tries your patience.
After our beloved Lhasa Apso passed away three years ago, we needed time to mourn. Then we were building a house and moving and it just wasn’t the right time. We decided that we are now ready.
Last Wednesday, we drove a couple of hours away and picked up an 8-week old Lhasa Apso puppy. He is a ball of fluff and so tiny and so adorable! While we had been through puppy parenthood before, there are a few differences this time around, including that he is a couple of weeks younger than our other pup was when we got him, we are older and we now have two human children.
Over these past few days, I’ve learned a few things about puppy parenthood that I needed to share.
1. Puppies are like newborns, toddlers and preschoolers rolled into one.
Our little guy is so little that his bladder certainly can’t make it through the night. So we are up every couple of hours with him to go outside — much like when our babies were newborns. The difference is that my husband and I can take turns unlike when I was nursing. And the puppy sleeps better than my youngest who basically refused to sleep at night for the first three months.
And they are also like toddlers because they are into everything and up to mischief wherever they can find it. They also like to put everything they find in their mouths like socks, cords, rocks, shoes and weeds.
Finally, they are like preschoolers when it comes to mobility. Other than being too short for some things like steps, our puppers can run and get into things and all sorts of stuff just like our kids were able to as preschoolers.
2. Puppies are adorable for their own survival.
There were some early days of human parenthood when my husband, and I commented about how God surely made babies cute because it made us want to keep them in spite of how exhausting they are. The same is true of puppies. Middle of the night potty breaks are irritating when we first get woke up, but picking up a ball of fluff eases some of that irritation!
3. Puppies are good for the soul.
A month after we got our first Lhasa, Buckles, back in 2005, my dad had a bad motorcycle accident that resulted in six weeks in ICU. I remember one long day coming home from the hospital for a couple of hours and just sitting on the floor soaking up some puppy love.
Fortunately we haven’t had a tragedy this time around, but our puppy is so good for my soul. He just makes me feel happier. It sounds silly, but having a canine companion is something that I really enjoy and almost need in my life.
4. Puppies remind me what adoration for God looks like.
This one seems out of left field, and I am a bit sleep deprived, but hear me out. We tend to go along with Caser Milan’s way of training and treating dogs. (Remember the “Dog Whisperer” show on National Geographic?) So, one of the ways we have comforted our puppy is just by being there for him. The first night he had a bit of anxiety as he went into his crate after bathroom breaks. We discovered the crate wasn’t bothering him, but being alone was. We sat beside him on the floor until he fell asleep and found he calmed down quicker that way.
By the second night, we heard barely a whimper if we sat beside him. He was in his crate and we weren’t touching, but our mere presence was enough for him. He knew we were there and could relax and go to sleep. It was only our second day in, but already he had seen proof of how we were going to take care of him and meet his needs and he was starting to trust us right away.
As I sat beside him on the second night for a few minutes, I marveled at his trust and adoration. I felt a prick in my spirit about how this little 8-week-old puppy can trust me without having much experience with me. How much more can I trust God with whom I have decades of experience of His faithfulness and goodness?! Yet, sometimes I behave just like an anxious dog alone in a new house — whining and carrying on.
5. Puppy love can start at first sight.
I can’t explain it, but when I saw the picture of our puppy for sale online, I knew he was meant to be ours. There were other puppies. He has a brother and sister, in fact, who were also for sale. We had only casually talked about getting a new puppy. Though my husband and I spent two days praying about it and talking in hypotheticals with our kids, I just kept coming back to he was supposed to be ours.
When the farmer who had him placed him in my arms and he immediately started covering my chin in puppy kisses while wagging his tail, I was smitten. And now he’s part of our family.
6. Puppy names are almost as hard as baby names.
Last but not least, coming up with a puppy name can be hard! We didn’t have trouble our first time around because there was a street we drove past sometimes named Buckles. We had commented a few times that it would make a good dog name. And it just fit for our first puppy.
This time, we didn’t have a name in mind. We perused the Internet, talked to the kids and compiled a list of possible names. We took a family vote to narrow it down to our top favorite names. We still didn’t decide until we had him with us. Then we knew that of all the names we liked, Pixel is the one that fit him best.
Just like a pixel on a computer screen or television, he is small, but his light matters greatly. When a pixel goes out, you notice. His light has certainly brightened our lives. We have been happy to welcome Pixel into our family along with all the challenges and patience having a new puppy requires!