We’re back for round three! Feeling like I should have a ding ding ding. I have had some lovely comments and feedback on my first two blog posts. Thank you to everyone who has read, shared, commented and subscribed; it’s nice to know I am not just chatting to myself.
When we decided on making this blog, Paul and I agreed it should be an honest documentation of both the highs and lows of raising Charlie. I would class myself as an honest person with a tendency to overshare to those around me, so I am shocked that I feel nervous about the honesty of this blog post. As I proof read the post a few fears spring to mind:
1) That “internet fear”.
2) That there is going to be numerous anonymous phone calls to the RSPCA reporting concerns for Charlie’s welfare.
3) We will get a phone call from our breeder requesting we return Charlie with immediate effect.
Nevertheless, here goes..
The first week into life as a three (or a ‘Throuple’ as I keep referring to us now) lulled me into a false sense of ‘parenthood’ security. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I am part of a few online Cocker Spaniel forums/groups where members share advice, tips, stories and photos with others. I have found these groups extremely useful and regularly annoy Paul with “Someone’s just posted this in the Cocker Spaniel group” followed by something we should be doing or buying for Charlie.
On the few weeks that led up to us bringing Charlie home (which you can read about in “So you’re thinking of getting a dog, now what?”) I saw lots of posts about ‘what to expect’ from the first few weeks of puppy and parenthood. There was a real mixture of, experienced dog owners laughing (in jest) at the sleepless nights new puppy parents had ahead combined with, expectant parents asking for recommendations of ‘puppy must haves’ in anticipation of their new arrivals. If there was a spectrum of over preparing and under preparing for a puppy arrival, I think Paul and I would have been pretty central. If anyone is wondering, the best purchase we made was a £1.49 duck teddy from B&M bargains who we’ve named ‘Doug’ and who Charlie adores; despite ragging him around and leaving him in dirt. The most useless purchase we made was some £10.99 apple vinegar ‘no chew’ spray from Amazon which was counterproductive as Charlie LOVED the taste and lapped it up from Paul’s fingers.
For the first week of life as a three Paul and I were SMUG, Charlie had adapted to his new home seamlessly. He slept in his crate throughout the night, he didn’t cry or whimper and he did wee wee’s on his puppy pads; RESULT!
Week 1 thoughts: parenthood is a doddle.
Two weeks, two near death experiences and 646294720 Google searches later, not such a doddle.
Week 3 thoughts: how many times can I f**k up in a week?
I’ve learnt two valuable lessons in three short weeks:
1) That even with two sets of eyes (Paul and I, I’m not a mutant) you cannot oversee the on goings of a curious pup 24/7. Gone is that one sweet day where he was too scared to cross the daunting threshold from living room to hall way.
2) You cannot know everything instantly. Try not to feel guilty for the things you didn’t know, every day is a learning curve.
I know, HOW very wise of me but let me take you through the near death experiences that inspired this new found wisdom.
Near death experience #1: Grape gate
Charlie, our increasingly brave and curious pup, decided to devour a rogue grape that had escaped from the punnet and landed on the kitchen floor; a scenario I would have never given a second thought to a mere 3 weeks ago. Many of you experienced humans may well know that grapes are in fact highly toxic for dogs; I, however, did not!
A few unsuspecting minutes went by before an instinctive thought popped into my head, “Are grapes ok for dogs?” My Google history is genuinely just different variations of “Is * insert food here * ok for dogs?”. Well, you know what they say about Googling things, don’t you? As I quickly established that grapes are not ok for dogs, the Google searches frantically escalated and in a mad panic I Googled “CAN ONE DOG KILL A GRAPE”; which we’ve laughed for ages about since.
Google may as well have told me “Your dog is about to die of sudden and acute kidney failure, say your final goodbyes now”. I dramatically ran into the office wailing “HE’S ATE A GRAPPPPPEEEE”, to which I was met with a perplexed looking Paul. If you could imagine two people on polar ends of the dramatic and chilled scale, you’d be looking at Paul and I.
A super chilled Paul did some damage limitation by calming me down and suggesting we “keep an eye on Charlie”. Needless to say there is no need to call the RSPCA; Charlie has been absolutely fine, other than being completely freaked out by his Mum staring deep into his eye’s trying to telepathically send messages of remorse.
Near death experience #2: The rape field
Second f**k up of the week coming to you in the form of some very pretty Instagram pictures. This f**k up is not as funny as grape gate and I also don’t think it’s as well known either, so I find it important to write about. If you follow Charlie on Instagram you may have seen earlier in the week that we uploaded some pretty family pictures in a yellow field. I pass about six of these gorgeous yellow fields in the Cheshire countryside on my commute to work.
Moments after uploading the pictures onto Instagram, a fellow dog account politely messaged me to ask if the field we were in was a rape field. Having absolutely no idea what rape looked like (despite actually using Rapeseed cooking oil) I, yep you guessed it, GOOGLED it.
Once I established we were, in fact, in a rape field internal alarm bells rang and I said to Paul “Do think rape is poisonous for dogs?”. I panic searched “Rapeseed and dogs” and was met with some harrowing pictures of two Beagles who had been left with burns all over their face and body after running through a rape field. Apparently (according to Science Daily) Canola (otherwise known as Rape) contains toxic substances that are let off as a type of defence mechanism to shock animals and insects.
For a detailed list of poisonous plants, garden and household substances click here.
I can write this information with a reduced amount of guilt knowing that Charlie was not harmed in the name of some pretty Instagram pictures but with enough honesty to tell you that he was only not harmed as a result of his age. Charlie is only 11 weeks old and is yet to have his second vaccinations; therefore he was out with us on what we refer to as a ‘carry walk’ for some puppy socialisation. Had this situation have been a week or two later, when Charlie could have ran around freely, the outcome could have been completely devastating.
Honestly, that night I was left with the most enormous amount of guilt that I could have hurt my precious boy just to get an Instagram picture. Once again, Paul came to the rescue to calm me down and reassure me that Charlie was fine, I was not a bad ‘paw-rent’ but that I was a first time ‘paw-rent’ and every day is a learning curve. I have since been comforted by close family and friends willingly divulging stories of times where they have also almost killed their pets.
I want to balance out these fails with some wins to
make myself feel like a better parent give a realistic account of how we’ve all adapted to our new life as a three.
In three short weeks we’ve created new routines; like having to get used to feeding something that isn’t us. We’ve adjusted to new dynamics, I refer specifically to the fact that Charlie is now Paul’s favourite. Paul will literally walk into the room and tell Charlie he is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen whilst I’m sat there like, HELLO? We’ve set boundaries and let others slide (“no dogs in the bed” didn’t stick long). We’ve learnt what Charlie likes (lots and lots of tummy tickles) and what he doesn’t like (the hoover). Most importantly, we’ve made memories (a camera roll full!).
Charlie is the constant centre of attention (no joke our family facetime us just to see him), he makes us laugh everyday, he’s spoilt rotten and loved beyond belief. He’s made us so proud by mastering new tricks like sit, stay, paw and lie down.
Anyone who has woken up to the glorious sight of me in the morning (lucky lot) can vouch that I am not a morning person in any sense of the word. Since having Charlie, I wake up to my nose being licked and a paw in my eye and I LOVE IT. Our favourite time of day is when we settle down in the evening to watch some T.V. and Charlie snuggles into his Dad’s neck and we know he is safe and happy.
Our three weeks have been a rollercoaster of ups and down’s and Charlie isn’t even allowed to leave the confinements of the garden yet! (GOD HELP US). Adjusting to new life can be hard, even when you love the fluffy 3rd party with all your heart. I vow to remember the valuable lessons I’ve learnt thus far and not beat myself up when I do something wrong or I simply didn’t know something.
So my fingers are crossed that, by this point, you’ve decided against reporting me to the RSPCA. I hope that my honest account has made
some all of you laugh, made some ‘paw’rents feel better about their fails and made some expectant ‘paw’rents feel a little more prepared. Above all I hope that my honesty can prevent anyone going through the sheer panic of grape and rape gate or any dogs getting harmed as a result. As always I want to leave you on a positive so…