The ‘new addition’ to our family perhaps wasn’t what my mother had hoped for, but on entering our newly dog-christened house, she instantly fell in love with the bundle of canine joy we had spent our hard earned on. Eddie, our new border terrier, has caused quite a stir.
What has struck me most about dog ownership? The seemingly endless pit of contrasting advice. “Get a crate, he’ll prefer it.” “Don’t get a crate, it’s cruel.” “Work from home.” “Don’t work from home, he’ll be fine as long as you visit at lunch.” “You really need a family life with kids.” “Who told you you need kids?” “Let him sleep in the bed with you.” “What idiot told you to let him sleep in your bed?”. Etcetera…
However, it’s the web that offers the most entertaining doggie dos and don’ts. What to do when you leave him at home for the first time? Buy an answer phone so you can ring and talk to him regularly. Of all the pieces of advice, that is quite possibly the most cruel. For starters, he’s got no chance of picking the phone up and will be subsequently plunged into a frightening world of confusion as the voice of his new owner echoes from the ether. At best, you’re simply doubling the amount of dog poo you’re going to have to clean up when you return.
So without further ado, I’d like to offer a couple of pieces of advice from our – admittedly short – period of dog ownership. Firstly, this crate business. Actually, let’s get it right; it’s a cage. While I understand dogs like enclosed spaces when they sleep as it makes them feel secure, locking them up in it for up to 4 hours is just plain nonsense and reserved for only those who place the wellbeing of their leather upholstery above the life of an innocent little creature. During the night and while we’re out, Eddie is safe and sound in our kitchen with a baby gate blocking the path into the dining and living rooms. He’s got plenty of space, has his bed to hand and, thanks to Radio 4 playing quietly in the background, should do pretty well out of it, intellectually speaking.
Secondly, bed time. As mentioned above, Eddie’s bedroom is our kitchen and I advise all puppy owners to adopt a similar method from the off. A couple of books we’ve read advise having them in your bedroom for the first couple of weeks, but they’ve got to get used to their own sleeping space sooner or later, so why not start as you mean to go on? It is pretty horrible hearing them whine and cry for the first few nights but, in our dog’s case, this soon ceased after ten or fifteen minutes, after which time we hear nothing until the morning.
Thirdly, enjoy it. Dogs are indeed a tie and during their younger months require an unnatural (for me, anyway) amount of attention and observation, both during play time and the inevitably fraught toilet training. However, nothing reminds us more of why we took the plunge than his face when we return from work. I can’t think of any other living creature that is so excited to see you, every time without fail, even if you’ve just popped to the shop for a newspaper.
They are an absolute joy to behold and, far from finding it a stressful experience, both my girlfriend and I have found Eddie to be not only a fantastic companion but a calming one to boot!
I may well blog differently when I return home tonight to a half-demolished kitchen…