Think hard before getting a dog this Christmas

By Jennifer Betts

Think you’re prepared for a puppy? Think again.

I know that my first line is tinged with regret, but I promise, there is a happy ending, despite frayed shoes, what once was my curious George teddy and several bouts of tears, on both sides, I am happy to be a dog owner once again.

After losing my dog of seven years so suddenly in October, I was in no way ready for a new arrival.

I envisaged that I would open my home, and my heart, in the distant future to a dog in need of a good home and I vowed that I would wait until that pooch found me.

So I plodded along, crying uncontrollably at every reminder of my old girl that adorned the house; her collar, her bed, even her worm tablet gave way to a hysterical snot fest.

I was told that crying was a part of healing though, so I wasn’t worried. My tears will go on for as long as I loved her, which will probably mean forever.

I read several articles about getting a new dog after losing another and most said the same thing; wait until you heal, you may resent the dog etc etc.

So I waited. A whole nine days.

Believe me, it felt much longer but then I was shown a picture of this adorable new puppy and well, I fell.

Not in love though, more in like and of an obligation to this poor little soul who needed a Mammy.

There was one girl left in the litter, which I thought was fate, but you see, I wasn’t alone in the need to fill that void.

My home had become a house, simply that. But my little six foot two brother was feeling as I was and as luck would have it, there was a boy left in the litter too.

So I made my way out to meet the new members of our family, but got a slight stomach churn when I found out that in fact, the bitch had been already taken and all that was left was two males.

By this time I had fallen completely in love with this tiny Jack Russell Bijon cross but I actually picked out the brother’s one first.

He was completely brown, which reminded me of our first dog.

So that left me with his white haired, brown patchy brother, which I knew was for me the minute he licked my nose.

Cue several aww moments from all my family. I took my new friend, who I named Buddy, home to his new pad and home he made himself.

Jennifer meets Buddy
Jennifer meets Buddy for the first time

His brother, Brax (yes my brother is a big Home and Away fan, sorry for outing you bro) headed to his house to live in bliss.

It was after a few days of mutterhood that the fun really began.

Firstly, you have to prepare yourself and your home for the three P’s; pee, poo and puke. There was lots of each.

There’s nothing like a fresh steaming log to wake you up first thing in the morning.

And when I say wake, I mean sting the crap out of your nostrils and make you gag.

I thought having worked as a nanny, that my tolerance for pongs was pretty strong but try to imagine what evil might smell like and you’ll get it.

Then there’s the moment when you can’t find your slippers, because said puppy has them in his bed, and you slide into a pool of piss.

Or to really top off your day, watching them puke down your dress in a scene that resembles Steve Martin’s sick kid in Parenthood, really is the end of you wearing expensive clothes at home.

Even now, I sit barefoot at my laptop, as Buddy thinks it’s fun to chew my socks and shoes. Still want to surprise the kids with a puppy on Christmas morning? Didn’t think so.

What really broke my heart and nearly broke me, was the amount of chastising I had to do, saying the dog’s name more times a day than my own.

Buddy no! Buddy stop! Ye little bo…x! Put that down! Bold dog! Yet, you know all he hears is blah blah blah Buddy! Blah! Blaaah! I do have a sneaking suspicion he thinks he’s Alice in Wonderland, as he seems to think that everything in the house is labelled ‘eat me.’

It was at this point that I thought I’d made a huge mistake. Apart from the thought that I was somehow cheating on my old dog’s memory, I just couldn’t handle the round the clock nurturing, scolding and crying episodes.

Me, not the dog. But then one day, something clicked. I loved him. I was his Mammy and he knew it.

I’m starting to laugh at his antics now, but he’s far from well behaved.

He is only 3 months after all, having been taken away from his biological Mammy.

Some of his little habits are endearing; barking at animals on the telly, watching The Lion King (seems he’s a big Disney fan) and crying with concern when I disappear under the water in the bath.

Even the love affair that he’s having with my teddy (so graphic) that I have to leave the room.

Buddy with his teddy
Puppy Love: Buddy really likes this teddy

Of course, he’s in competition with his brother, or rather, I’m in competition with my brother, about who does what first.

“My dog can sit,” “My dog pees on the paper.”

I’m currently working on a plan to scupper my brother’s attempts, I just don’t have the room to construct a tractor beam in my house and give the dog the credit.

But, he’s made my house a home again and is still the only man in my life.

He may steal the remote, but he’s pretty low maintenance compared to some males I know.

So, before you impulsively buy that puppy for your loved one this Christmas, be prepared for a life time of commitment, because at the end of the day, they deserve it.

I would urge everyone to adopt, but wait until the new year, when you have a fresh head on the idea.

My dog ‘came’ to me on All Souls Day, which I think was quite fitting and even though, technically he’s not a Christmas purchase, he’s my Buddy Holly.


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