Today marks the day my little puppy Pippin turns 8 months old. We got him at 8 weeks old, meaning he’s now been in our lives for an entire 6 months.
I’ve wanted a dog ever since I left home at 18, but obviously as a uni student it wasn’t exactly a feasible option…! It was only when my Fiancé and I both established ourselves in steady jobs with a reliable income that we decided we were about ready to take the plunge. For me, although one day I plan to rescue, my heart was set on getting a puppy at least once in our lives. We knew a cocker spaniel was the breed for us, me having grown up with them in my life and us being a fairly active pair when it comes to getting outdoors.
We first met Pippin when he was only 4 weeks old. He was bold as brass already, the leader of his pack. It wasn’t a quick decision on which of the litter we wanted, but Pippin’s 4 white paws and chunky belly made him hard to resist. Everyone said “Avoid the alpha” but he was too brilliant to not want to take home. My favourite memory of our first visit to him was Mat holding rolling him around on his back, Pippin making a cute growly noise, loving the play fighting already. We went away and decided his name before we then visited him again the day after, certain it was him that would soon turn us into a family.
Picking up Pippin was one of my favourite experiences to date. He was immediately brilliant in the car, small enough to curl on my knee whilst looking out the window wondering where he was going. We went to visit both sets of our parents with him and he stole each of their hearts, already nibbling their fingers and bouncing around their kitchens like he owned the place!
The first couple of months were exhausting, particularly before he was fully vaccinated and could go on walks. He slept well through the night, until around 6am, when he’d constantly whine and bark. He just needed the loo – what with his tiny puppy bladder – but we were thankful when those days were over and we could get a little bit of extra time in bed! He seemed to never nap. He was always causing trouble, stealing shoes and socks and generally full of the “zoomies”. It was only when he hit about 4 months that naps became a regular occurrence, and I felt that familiarity in what it felt like to own a dog when I lived at home. it got much easier from that point and he became so settled, but of course still stealing socks on an almost daily basis.
Toilet training was hard at first, but crate training really did help and as soon as his bladder was big enough he held it until we’d wake up/get home from work. To this day he’s never done a number 2 inside – RESULT! I don’t know how we got so lucky there…
We have a dog walker every day we are both working routine hours, which has been brilliant not only for ensuring he isn’t left for too long, but also for socialising him with other dogs, both older and younger, bigger and smaller. It helped with his recall, guaranteeing his daily exercise alongside our morning/evening walks, and his general manners when it came to the great outdoors. Not to mention a tired dog is a good dog and he gets a solid hour walk each day with about 5 other spaniels. Our dog walker is absolutely fantastic with Pippin and I would recommend it to anyone working full time with a dog. Providing it’s something that’s affordable to you, I cannot recommend it enough!
Something I wasn’t prepared for when it came to getting a dog was the sheer parenting of it – making sure you’re always doing the right thing to help him become the type of dog you want to own, for example being left on his own, good in the car, calm in public places – it all takes work! It’s also been quite hard to know if what we’re doing is right; is crate training best? When should he be groomed? Is this peanut butter dog friendly? We have learnt that everyone has their own way with their own dog, and when it comes to our life now we have Pippin, people often offer their two cents despite our life and choices being nothing to do with them. It’s been an experience not just in owning a dog, but in dealing with the (unnecessary) judgement of others; a big adult learning curve, one that’s driven me to develop a much thicker skin!
I also can’t exactly say I was prepared for the love I’d have for little Pippin. I’ve become such a typical dog mum and I have zero regrets. The fun and the joy he brings to our lives is unreal. He’s always so happy to see us, so excited to play fetch, so cuddly when he’s tired. I bloody love buying him a treat on a weekend, or a new toy that he doesn’t leave alone for the next 4 weeks. He’s both hilarious and gorgeous, my little best mate. He is the most loved puppy and I can’t remember what it was like before he was in our lives!
My little Pipsqueak, the best dog in the world.