Hi everyone! I know what you are thinking, back so soon and YES I AM!
In my head I was actually going to wait to see the response from the first blog “Alexa, How do you raise a puppy?” but I got overly excited and started typing away on my keyboard; getting overly excited and jumping into new ideas without a plan is my forte as much as Paul often hates me for it. I suppose I should explain who this ‘Paul’ is I keep referring too and on that note I should also introduce myself!
I’m Rachael, an almost (but not quite) *pause for dramatic effect* 28 year old first time dog Mum. I live with my boyfriend Paul (another almost 28’er) in Cheshire. If you read the first blog you will know that when it comes to looking after anything other than ourselves, Paul and I are about as novice as you can get; literally as I am typing this I’m staring over at my browning thirsty house plant filled with guilt.
This year, this pair of novices, decided to take the plunge into parenthood and welcome Charlie into our lives.
It’s no exaggeration when I say I’ve probably been floating the idea of getting a dog to Paul sporadically for a few years now. We both grew up in North Wales and have both come from families with dogs; albeit very different types of dogs, think Chihuahua vs Border Collie. However since leaving home, almost 10 years ago, our life circumstances would have never accommodated a dog of our own; as much as I would have argued otherwise at times. We both went to University, are career focused, enjoy holidays and tend to live quite spontaneously with last minute plans. So you might be reading this and thinking WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU CONSIDER GETTING A DOG THEN? The only answer I have is
BECAUSE DOGS ARE GREAT now was just the right time for us to make some changes in our lives.
We had been infrequently browsing at dogs for a few weeks before we got a very sad phone call from Paul’s Mum to tell us that their gorgeous family dog Lexi, a Border Collie, was going to be put to sleep after a yearlong battle with Cancer (Lymphoma).
That day, we drove back home to North Wales and spent a few hours with her before saying our final goodbyes. It was such an incredibly sad day, and it may be slightly strange to some that loss could bring confirmation, but as we looked back on photos of Lexi and discussed the memories from over the years, it clicked for me that this was the right time for Paul and I to change our lives and get a dog.
The hardest part for Paul and I was deciding on a breed of dog that suited us and our lifestyle. Again, if you’ve read the first blog you’ll know I’m an avid ‘google’r’ and in googling ‘What dog should I get?’ I came across plenty of breed quizzes such Purina and Pedigree. These both ask questions based on your living status, activity level and time spent at home to help identify suitable breeds for you. After pretty much exhausting all the options on Pets4Homes, we settled on a Cocker Spaniel.
I would suggest making a list of the things you and your partner both want in a dog (e.g. size, sex, pedigree, mixed breed, coat type, energetic or more domesticated etc.) and then comparing each other’s lists; of course we DID NOT do this. Instead, we simply argued over grumpy looking dogs, dogs that were too small, dogs that were too ‘hairy’ (no joke) and whether or not a French Bulldog could run 5k, until we both finally agreed that Cocker Spaniels are the BEST (apologies to other all other dog parents, this blog will be
slightly very biased towards Cockers).
I want to tell you that once we had decided on a breed that was the end of the tough decisions, but that would be a lie. I don’t know if Paul and I are just THE worst decision makers ever or if I am doing us a disservice and we are, in fact, adults who do research in order to make informed decisions; hmm I’ll let you all decide that one.
Choosing between a boy and a girl was another tricky decision with conflicting information online about the different traits that each may or may not have. We decided to use the non-scientific method of ‘picturing us’; I pictured a boy and VOILA decision made. Let me tell you the question of boy or girl was nothing compared to the mammoth task of deciding on ONE NAME. We had a list of names that we both liked but could not narrow down, which led to weeks of us both just randomly calling out these names in different places, as if we were playing a game of dog name bogies.
Paul in the kitchen shouting “Ralph COME HEREEEEEE”.
Me in the bathroom shouting “NO DOUGGIE GET DOWN”.
Back to the serious stuff, I feel like I am potentially downplaying our research slightly. Once we settled on a male Cocker Spaniel we were quickly able to agree (a miracle) on some important things we wanted from a breeder and puppy. The list looked something like this for anyone who is interested:
• Kennel Club (KC) registration
• Genuine caring breeder (preferably KC assured)
• To be able to see both parents
• A breeder who is interested in asking you questions
• Within budget
• Within a certain distance
We found our breeders through Pets4Homes, they were a lovely couple from the West Midlands (our boys a Brummy) who were part of the ‘KC Assured Breeder Scheme’ and had bred their family dogs (both KC registered WCS). This was the breeders very first litter and the ad specifically stated that questions would be asked about potential forever homes.
Tick, tick and a big fat TICK.
The advert had been up a grand total of 7 minutes before we messaged and pretty much secured him!
Now I want to take you back to a few paragraphs before where I confidently said and I quote, “it clicked for me that this was the right time for Paul and I to change our lives and get a dog”. The night before we went to meet Charlie for the first time, I promise you, I could not sleep for fear that we were making a huge mistake. I started thinking of all the things I wouldn’t be able to do anymore, half of which I didn’t do in the first place or had never planned on doing, for example going to live in Australia or moving to Germany????? Luckily as soon as we met our guy all the panicked thoughts about a spontaneous relocation to Germany faded away and I was back to knowing that we were doing the right thing.
In terms of, for want of a better word, the transaction between us and the breeders we couldn’t have asked for a better experience. They sent us regular pictures and videos of our growing pup, playing with his siblings.
I have since, unfortunately, seen lots posts on online dog groups about people being scammed. I might do another blog specifically about our experience of using an online marketplace for buying a pet, with some tips and tricks of the things we learnt in the process.
For those few weeks where we were waiting for Charlie to be the right age to come home, approximately 100% off all conversations had were about him. If you think I’m exaggerating here’s some examples, we’d be sat having meatballs for tea talking about how “this is probably the last time we will have meatballs before Charlie is here” or “the next time we have Meatballs Charlie will be sat right there”. Something about this dog has made us CRAZZZZZZY but I love it!
We finally brought our Charlie boy home on Thursday 16th April 2020. So for those of you who have lost all sense of date and time during lockdown, we have had our boy 3 weeks now. What a 3 weeks it’s been!
When I started tapping away today it wasn’t necessarily my intention to go down this story route, but it feels right. So, having taken you all through the trials and tribulations that led to us getting our boy, it would seemingly fit that I leave you all with some pictures of us on our first day as a family of 3.