I’d never really planned on getting a puppy. Totoro, my ten-year-old Chihuahua, had been with me five years, and I was perfectly content with my single-dog household. After all, Totoro is the world’s best lapdog: an easygoing cuddle-bug who likes nothing more than to snooze at my feet while I work. Why would I want to add a high-energy, attention-demanding puppy to the mix?
Well, they say when your head and heart get into a disagreement, your heart always wins. That was certainly the case when Bombur, an eight-week-old dachshund, bounced into my life. He’s just shy of a year old now, but he’s taught me an awful lot for such a young dog.
1. PUPPIES KEEP YOU ON TOP OF HOUSEKEEPING.
Puppies are inquisitive. If something is within reach, you can be sure they’ll get into it. This includes the laundry hamper, the trash can, bookshelves, your closets and anything else at puppy level. Nothing will convince you to clean up your clutter as quickly as seeing your pup running around with a mouthful of dirty socks or junk mail.
2. THEY GIVE STRUCTURE TO YOUR DAYS.
A new puppy must have his needs catered to. You’ll quickly fall into a rhythm of playtime, mealtime, potty time and naptime, and you learn to structure your own plans around those moments. For example, you don’t feed your puppy just before you leave for work, when you won’t be able to take him out. And you try to get household chores done while he’s napping rather than underfoot.
3. YOU REALIZE MATERIAL THINGS JUST AREN’T THAT IMPORTANT.
If you care deeply about your Oriental rug or $300 pair of heels, maybe a new puppy isn’t right for you. Puppies are destructive, and that means a lot of chewing and digging happens before you’re able to train them. And while any pup can be successfully house-trained, some accidents are inevitable. You quickly learn your new friend is worth more than any object he might have destroyed.
4. YOU LEARN GOOD LEADERSHIP QUALITIES.
As the responsible adult in your puppy’s life, it’s your job to guide him toward making the right choices – such as what’s appropriate for chewing or whether it’s okay to bark at the neighbors. You have to teach these lessons with a gentle hand, without allowing your emotions to cloud your actions.
5. YOU LEARN THE VALUE OF EVERY MOMENT.
Puppies grow up so fast you’d swear they sprout up during the night. Learn to relish every moment you spend with your pup, and be sure to take a lot of pictures. You’ll miss your sweet, goofy pup once he grows up into a handsome dog!
Of course, these lessons aren’t limited just to puppies. But as Bombur has shown me, what really matters is how sharing your life and love with a living creature that depends on you for his well-being is one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have!