The reality of the first two years with a dog

Mako is two years old today! Happy birthday Mako! I can’t quite believe it honestly, it’s hard to imagine a time before her, but then it feels like she just arrived yesterday, all small and fluffy and deceptively bitey.

puppy realities

Basically a dragon

As adorable as that photo is, I have never been a dog person and never wanted a dog. Belle went on for YEARS, trying to wear me down, but I was adamant – they were smelly and hairy and annoying and you had to walk them in the rain and it would be ghastly. And besides, we already had three cats. And then a few years ago Belle was diagnosed with ASD and presented me with the research about the difference a dog can make and well, I could hardly say no could I? I didn’t want to get cancelled.

So there we were, getting a dog, bringing home a tiny puppy, with no idea of what to expect or how they actually WORKED.

The first thing that became apparent was that puppies have very sharp teeth and they like to use them. Mako really liked to use them. On clothes, soft furnishings, plastic cups… anything you left lying around really, but especially hands. It feels ridiculous now to say it, but I was genuinely scared of her.

When she zoomed around the living room, looking for someone to leap on and bite, I was scared. Sometimes I would run from the room and lock myself behind the stairgate. Sometimes I was also crying.

Puppy at the beach

Savage beast

I cried a lot. I might go as far as to say I cried every day for a few months. I couldn’t believe what we’d done, I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility, like I had thrown my life away. I remember the dog trainer coming for an hour one day, supposedly to help me with some lead walking techniques, and just bursting into tears. I cried for the whole hour while Mako fell asleep on the floor, oblivious.

Belle invented a test to gauge my feelings – if I could go back in time and not get her, would I? No, I couldn’t say that. Would I do it if I would never remember she had existed? Yes, probably.

Gradually, (very gradually), things started to change. My fear and overwhelm took a different shape and I became what I imagine a lot of new parents become – an anxious mess.

As Mako calmed down and started happily dozing for long periods around the house, I cranked up the panic. If she was asleep for more than a couple of hours I was sure that she must be dying. I Googled incessantly – ‘how long should a dog sleep for?’ ‘Is my dog sleeping too much?’ After her first season I had a very stressful few weeks where I was sure she had somehow got pregnant without us knowing it, and only the non-arrival of puppies would convince me otherwise.

This phase had its pros – clearly I was starting to like her – but I think it may have been worse than the initial overwhelm stage in some ways. At least then I had the back-up option of rehoming her. Now though I obviously cared about her, so that felt like it was off the cards. Now I just had to suck up the constant dread and get on with it.

Would I go back in time and not get her? I wasn’t sure.

What is it like having a puppy

At some point, when Belle was clearly living in a sort of zombie state, I offered to take over the early mornings. For a little while I hated having to wake up so early, I was probably a bit resentful about it, but then it shifted somewhere, and I started to enjoy it. There is nothing quite like the feeling of having a coffee in the garden at 7.30am having ALREADY done an hour’s walk. It’s the ultimate smug.

I noticed a change when she went to my mum’s for sleepovers – instead of relishing a lie in I would feel like I’d wasted a morning, and wake up anyway, excited for her to come home again. I missed her, but in a relaxed way. I started making my own homemade dog food and not freaking out every time she ‘looked sad’.

Mako is still not what you’d consider ‘easy’ in many ways. She pulls on her lead and I don’t tend to let her off unless we’re in a dog field as her recall is unreliable (!) but she is the sweetest, friendliest dog you could ever hope to meet. She loves sitting and watching the squirrels, and sitting on benches, and holding hands, and always waits patiently while I take pictures for Instagram.

Would I go back in time now and not get her, even if I would never know I’d done it and not remember her? Absolutely not. She’s my goodest girl and I wouldn’t change her for anything.

Happy birthday Mako!


P.S. You can follow me on Instagram to share our morning walks.

puppy real life


1 Comment

  1. 3 June, 2023 / 6:15 pm

    Such a gorgeous dog. My goldie is my world!

    Danielle |

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