21 Nov Else Diaries | The truth about Else
I have been sharing so many cute Else pictures lately. I thought it was about time to share a meaningful story too. I’ll get straight into it.
Else is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Ever.
Even though all you see on socials is cute paws and tummy kisses, raising a dog is no walk in the park. Let me rephrase that: properly raising a dog is no walk in the park. Even though it includes a hell of a lot of walks in the park.
For me, it was totally worth it. It made me a better person, she taught me how to love unconditionally and I can but I do not want to imagine my life without her. Else is not my first dog. Even though it feels like she is. I’ll explain: when I was a young teenager I got a dog from the shelter. His name was Demis and he was a family dog. We had a backyard and he was living outside. We did not train him and we didn’t know much about dogs. I was a child basically and I was winging it. When I turned 18 and moved out he stayed with my parents. He led a healthy happy life for 16 years.
Things are very different with Else. She lives in our apartment, she got proper training and she has a lot of structure in her life which I, of course, have to provide. I was prepping for months and months on end before her arrival. I enrolled in online training classes, we dog-proofed the apartment, we bought everything she could possibly need ahead of time, we researched her dietary needs in detail and I educated myself to the best of my ability.
Here are some things to consider before getting a dog.
Truth no 1
No matter how much you prep, you’ll never feel 100% ready for the new puppy.
And that’s totally ok.
Even though you can get practically prepared for the new addition to your family, is there any way to emotionally prepare for it? What if you let go of the idealized image of puppy parenthood?
While the adage that “nothing can prepare you for puppy-parenthood” is mostly true, there are some things you can do to get into the right headspace before you have your new puppy. Those things will help BUT having all the usual boxes checked off on the checklist, can only do so much.
Accept the fact that you’ll never know enough.
We’re all just doing the best we can and learning as we go. So, plan ahead, do everything you can to be as prepared as possible. Consider getting a dog thoughtfully before signing on. But if you’re waiting for a magical moment where you’ll feel 100% ready, it’s just never gonna happen.
Truth no 2
You know dogs need a lot of your time. But you need to double the amount of time you have in mind, then double it again. Now you’re closer to how much time you’ll actually have to dedicate for the next 10-15 years.
Truth no 3
Online classes are okay, but you’re probably going to need a real trainer too. Investing in real-life training sessions will pay off, they are *so* worth it and it’s a true sign of love. If you value your dog, want to improve your relationship, and create substantial ways of communication between the two of you as well as teach your dog important life skills, get a trainer. Training your dog builds up a language of communication between you that promotes security and comfort, so getting a trainer was life-changing for me, despite the fact that I took many online classes before Else arrived.
Truth no 4
The dog trainer is actually training you; not the dog. He is your instructor. Then, in turn, you train your dog. Every. Single. Day.
Truth no 5
You cannot count on anyone but you to take care of the dog. Not even your life partner, family, or friends. It’s all you. Hopefully, they will help but you should be prepared to fly solo on this journey if you have to, and do it with a smile.
It’s a privilege, not a burden.
Truth no 6
The first few months are going to be hell. Puppies can’t go outside (at least in an urban environment packed with stray dogs) until they are fully vaccinated. So for 2 months, Else and I were stuck at home. I had to constantly clean up after her, make sure she is safe at all times, play with her and entertain her.
It will get frustrating. Very often indeed. And you’ll have to deal with it. It’s never the dog’s fault. It’s all you.
Truth no 7
It will get easier. If you tackle the first few months it will gradually get easier as you’re building communication paths with your dog through training and daily life. You’re basically learning from each other. I wish I had someone to reassure me that it gets easier when I was struggling.
Truth no 8
There will be lots and lots of stress. Especially if you are prone to anxiety. It gets worse before it gets better. I specifically remember wondering what I was doing wrong while sobbing on the cold wooden floor in my apartment. Our apartment. I thought having a dog would act as a stress relief but instead, it is a constant source of stress and worry about her wellbeing, her eating or not eating, her doctor appointments, her medical emergencies, her training, her walks, her socializing, her entertaining, her traveling with us, her cost of living… well basically for her existence and everything that entails. But tackling all the above made me stronger and more confident. Hence I handle my severe anxiety disorder much, much better. So getting a dog does help but not in the way I thought it would. Meaning,
it didn’t make life easier, it made me stronger.
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