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Lessons From My Puppy

In mid-February, I became a first-time dog mom to a cute little Golden Retriever puppy. This was quite the life change adding another being into the household, though I'd say it's probably one of the best decisions I've made.

Golden Retriever puppy sitting on the grass looking at the camera

She reminds me everyday how to be a better person, through the ups and the downs of puppyhood and life. In this blog article, I'll note some key lessons that I've been reminded of by new my puppy.

Say "Hi" to Your Neighbors

I got puppy girl when she was 9 weeks old, and from day 1 she attracted so much attention when I took her out. And seeing how I had to take her out every 30-60 minutes in those first few weeks, we got lots of attention 'round the clock.

I met neighbors I haven't met before in the two and a half years I've lived in my building. I met neighbors from across the street, around the block, next door, several blocks down, you name it—wherever I took her. And you know, it was nice. It felt good to say "hi" (or for them to say "hi" to puppy girl). It's made me feel connected to my surrounding community and fellow humans. And it's been great for puppy girl; she's quite the social fur baby. She loves greeting people and dogs. She loves the interaction and cuddles. So it's a win-win-win.

A lot of people have thanked me for letting them pet puppy girl. She's fuzzy soft as she still has her puppy fur that feels like a little Sherpa blanket. I see the joy it brings people to pet her. It makes me feel good that she can do that for others.

I've had a bunch of people tell me that she made their day—and that is reason enough for me to take the time to interact with people on my walks.

In these interactions, my neighbors also help me. They give me advice on raising a puppy, tell me which dog parks are good and when they are open, let me know the ins and outs of the dog community, and sometimes we just chat about life. I honestly didn't realize how many people had dogs until I got a dog. It's like this whole new world opened up for me.

These interactions have been a reminder of the importance of looking up, paying attention, and being gentle with one another. You never know what another person is going through, so saying "hi" or letting them play with a puppy can sometimes make all the difference in the world.

Be There

Sometimes all you need is someone to just be there for you. No talking, no big activity, just be there. And puppy girl is the expert at being there for me. Wherever I go, she's not too far behind. She is great at lying next to me while I'm reading, laying on my feet when I wash dishes, and my/her favorite—laying under my desk while I work. She doesn't fuss, she just likes to be next to me. And I like her next to me too. It's comforting.

I try and take that lesson with me in other relationships, in how I can be a good friend and good person to others. Whether it's providing a listening ear or just sitting with someone and not talking at all. I look forward to being better at "being there" for people. I think it's the simple things that are sometimes the most meaningful in life.

Things Get Easier

Raising a puppy is a lot of work. As much as there is loads of cuteness and cuddles, it can also be tough—especially in the early days. Taking her out every 30-60 minutes those first few weeks after bringing her home was a feat. I live on the second floor, so it was leg day everyday! She had to be taken outside in the middle of the night as her little bladder couldn't hold it the whole night. I've had to be careful where I take her since she's not fully vaccinated. I needed to establish a routine and make sure she has everything she needs (e.g., exercise, play, chew toys, food, water, good environment, etc.). Suffice to say, there's a lot of things to balance when raising a young pup.

But, with time, things get easier. After about two weeks with me, house/potty training clicked, so I didn't have to worry as much about that anymore. We developed a routine and she started to know what to expect. I took her on walking routes in all different directions and she got to sniff out the neighboring blocks; and over time she became familiar with her surroundings. She is a diligent sniffer, I honestly think that she could find her way home if she needed to. And she is now able to stay on her own at home for a while if I need to go run an errand or go out for a couple hours. She'll just sleep and chill when I'm gone.

In her first week with me, puppy didn't know how to climb stairs or go down them :( She came from a ranch and had never been in a city, let alone had to climb a staircase. So she had to learn how to tackle the stairs and after about a day she learned how to go down them, and after a few days she learned how to go up them. Puppy gained confidence with time. Now, she often runs or gallops up the stairs :)

All to say, things get easier with time. As with any life change, when you're first starting out, it can be difficult. A new "norm" is forming. What once was familiar is no longer. It's not always comfortable and can be out of your comfort zone. There can be overwhelming moments. But with time and experience, things get easier.

Golden Retriever puppy smiling at the camera.

And Sometimes, S*!t Happens

Sometimes, even with the best intentions, preparation, and diligence, s*!t happens. Quite literally with a puppy being house trained as well as in life. I think what helps you get through is to do your best, be gentle with others, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Mistakes happen, curveballs are thrown, and life doesn't always go according to plan. But by connecting and being there for others (and self), things get easier.

I'm reminded every day that there's room to be a better human and to inch closer to my authentic self. After all, my puppy is authentically herself, and I love that about her.

Thanks for reading and "being here." Hope you have a great day :)


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