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Hey all, I wanted to share this little "essay" I wrote a few weeks ago - I'd been raving about puppyness on Facebook and realized all I was sharing were the *great* things and wanted to share and remember the reality as well. I'm sure you can all relate to most ....


The downsides of puppy ownership

For weeks now, I've been going on and on and on and on (and on) about this adorable smart devoted little canine creature that's come into our life and how wonderful it all is, but for some later date when I look back - or for anyone who decides it's so fantastic they should try it too - I must be realistic and look at the downsides as well.

- A young puppy has a tiny bladder.
In several weeks we haven't gotten a full night's sleep because the puppy has to go out and pee. This is one of the ways it's like having a baby; at least babies wear diapers that can be changed at leisure! We've read we can't fully depend on him to be housetrained until he reaches six months, owing to the immaturity of his bladder and surrounding muscles - that's three more months to go.

We take away his food and water after about 8pm (the one time we let him have a big drink before bed he didn't even wake himself up to let it all out - that taught us!) and even then it's at least twice between 9:30 and 6am. That's just at night; during the day we go anywhere from ten minutes to an hour between visits to the backyard, dependent on varying factors such as eating, drinking, playing, sleeping. He's gotten pretty good at telling us when he needs to go out but at times he's just so subtle that we don't notice, or it's like a young child who doesn't want to stop playing until the last possible second and then has to go NOW ooops.

- A puppy has to check out EVERYTHING.
Seriously, you can't puppy-proof a place until you've had a puppy in it. Redirection is great but he'll go back to something of interest until it's out of reach altogether, and then find something just as frustrating to get into.

For years, to save space in the bedroom, I've had my clothes in snazzy Ikea boxes under the bed and didn't even consider that might be an issue - until Benny wandered out with one of my good shirts; he'd gotten at it through the handle-holes in the side of the box. We've blocked him off from the front door area where all the shoes are because that's a losing battle - shoes smell FANTASTIC to a puppy nose (and just thank heavens he never discovered the candy dish that is the litterbox in the downstairs bathroom!). We still find him into things we thought he'd disregarded, but instead simply hadn't gotten into yet because there was something more interesting available at the time. This requires vigilance on the part of the people, leading to....

- A puppy is always there....
The first few days we followed him around like mama (and dada) hens, tracking his every movement, and it was purely exhausting. Is he about to pee on the carpet? Has he found something new to chew on? Is he about to be sideswiped by the cat?

We were well-meaning but we didn't need to watch as closely as we were, as mom-in-law Donna (a veteran puppy owner herself) pointed out. Accidents are going to happen; things are going to get chewed; puppy will learn a lesson from the cat. Roll with it. Since then it's been less of an all-consuming chore, but we still have to be aware of where he is and whether he's letting us know he needs to go out or is just quiet because he's found a pair of mommy's undies to chew on (evidently the greatest treasure of all time).

Even outside in the yard, there are things we need to redirect; for example, he's still small enough to squeeze under the fence when he wants to visit his beagle buddies next door, and he makes an attempt at digging from time to time. That's not to mention noticing and reinforcing the GOOD things he does, wherever he is, which is just as important as steering him away from bad behaviour. This makes it more difficult to do the things we used to, primarily watching TV and reading - and recovering from a cold or flu by resting all day is a huge challenge.

It's good in that it's got us more active - I'm already more fit than I was the day we brought him home! - but there are certainly times I wish I could just put the puppy away for a few hours and take him out when I'm ready.

- ....and always needs his people.
Speaking of putting him away for a few hours...That's simply not going to happen just yet, even though we're working with him to be okay when we're not around.

We both work. Luckily I'm home on weekends and Rob's home 3 days a week, but there are still times when we're both away. Puppy doesn't like that so much. He whines and cries if one of us so much as goes upstairs and leaves the puppy gate up so he can't follow us, let alone put him in his "room" (the crate, for short absences) or run (a fenced area in the kitchen, for longer than a couple hours).

We have roommates, and neighbours, and they didn't sign up for this; he can keep yowling for a looooong time. I know - I've videotaped him. It's heart-rending to say the least, eardrum-perforating to say the worst. We owe those roommates so much for taking him out during the day (the neighbours who can hear him have three beagles themselves; they've been there and are understanding).

But even beyond the absences, try taking a shower at six in the morning where puppy can't see you; stepping outside to toss the garbage; even going to the bathroom and shutting the door. Accompanying this challenge is suppressing the urge to come running back, to croon and soothe him and apologize for making him upset. That only feeds the problem and makes it worse next time, yet it's a struggle to stay matter-of-fact and a great way to feel like a heartless tyrant. What a great introduction to the next one:

- A puppy needs discipline.
You don't WANT to discipline a puppy. They're just too cute and sweet with those big eyes and oversized paws, tripping over themselves and flopping their ears around so they can't see.

We've read it and heard it over and over: Don't let a puppy do anything you wouldn't want an adult dog to do, and the first twelve weeks are the most formative part of his young life. Also, the best way to show a dog your disapproval is ignore him. So he doesn't get to lick our faces, or jump up on people, or beg for food; those are easy to redirect and we've been fairly successful so far. But what about growling at us when we touch the toy he's got, or instigating tug-of-war with a bone he found on his walk? Pulling on the leash as if he's hauling a sled, or nibbling our fingers (so adorable with tiny little puppy teeth that HURT LIKE NEEDLES OWOWOWWW). These are the kinds of things that require action, of the "I'm in charge and you're not, and I'm gonna show you the way a mommy dog would" variety.

In my own home, that's one thing - nobody's watching, I KNOW I'm not hurting him by grabbing the scruff of his neck until he quits biting - but it still takes some getting used to, his yips and yowls of protestation. Then he gets overexcited after visiting a playground full of kids, grabs my hand hard, and I've got to be consistent. There haven't been many times in life when I've felt like a wicked witch; holding a squirming puppy by the scruff of the neck while he screams bloody murder (and still manages to be adorable doing it) is one of them.

- A puppy chooses when he wants to listen....
Benny is *only* twelve weeks old. He shouldn't have to start learning yet, right? Well, he actually already knew "sit" when we picked him up from the breeder at eight weeks; within his first week with us he caught on that he would get more attention from us if he sat when he wanted something.

So does he sit every time we ask him? HELL no. After all, he's only twelve weeks old! He's a puppy! He gets to play and romp and do what he pleases! Well, that was good enough for me until I started teaching him to "lie down". His first "trick", shall we say, was attained with bribery: I used treats. It was a smashing success. The next day, I tried it again, this time with toys in place of treats, and he didn't lie down unless I patted the ground in front of him. Okay, I guess he's just forgotten with all the things that he's done since then (play, pee, sleep, pee, poop, sleep, eat, play...). That was fine until I brought out treats again. Soon as he saw them, something clicked and down he went - FLOOMP! "Mommy gives me treats when I lie down so I'll just lie down before she asks me to!"

It's been a few weeks and he'll only lie down immediately if I bring out the treats or he reeeally wants something; the rest of the time he looks at me like I'm talking a different language, or just does it veeeerrrry slooooowwlllyyy.

Right now I don't mind so much, and it's not a big deal, but this is one challenge that I've read will only get worse, not better, when he hits adolescence and puppy teenagerhood (about nine to twelve months) - the age of rebellion in dogs; he'll challenge us on committing to our requests and we'll have to (a) make sure he knows what we want before asking him to do it, and (b) be ready to expect him to follow through with it or face consequences.

- ...and those aren't always the times you want him to.
On the flipside, as we are still learning his language and his motivations, we find that we're unconsciously reinforcing behaviours we don't want him to continue. The most obvious example is barking: A human's first reaction to a barking dog is to yell at him, but in dog lingo that human is joining right in and barking along, so that makes it more than okay to not only keep going, but not hold back next time! The first time he grabbed his leash and took me for a walk, I laughed and went along with it - big mistake, as I now don't know how to tell him this isn't okay when he takes me for all our walks together. Oops.

- A puppy has a long battery life.
"Beagles for Dummies" repeats the mantra: "A tired Beagle is a happy Beagle," but I guess Benny hasn't read that book. Or he only paid attention to the other part about how Beagles were bred for endurance on long hunts over acres of land, never stopping for hours.

He almost never gets tired. Seriously. We can go for a half-hour walk and run him around the backyard, keep him moving as long as our attention holds out, but he's on his own little schedule. When we think maybe he'll settle down, he goes running off in another direction. Even after playing for hours with other dogs at "Grandma's" house. He's got plenty to keep him busy but he's just as likely to take out that alertness on something he shouldn't be doing, like tasting the books or trying to entice the cat to play.

Just like children, sleepy puppies get hyper and cranky, and out come the nipping, chewing and selective deafness. He won't settle down for the night till we're both in bed and the lights are out, so there goes the idea of getting other things done (though it is nice to have an "enforced" bedtime). On the plus side, when he does conk out it's usually immediate and thorough, with just enough alertness to drag himself somewhere he can see us before he falls off into dreamland; even then, he twitches and woofs, scenting and chasing some unseen prey, and occasionally he wakes himself up in the process.

There are days when this is an exception: in which Benny's morning and afternoon is spent in one continuous nap, punctuated by food and bathroom breaks, and he switches on at about 4 pm to burn off the excess energy by becoming Terror Pup, the brat we prefer not to see. We have come to call this phenomenon a "growing day", as the only cause we can figure out is that he's fueling a particularly taxing growth spurt. These are blessed days when we can also rest and get some other things done, but there's no way to tell when one of these days will come, so we just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best!

- A puppy is expensive.
I've read that, in North America, in the first year of its life a dog will cost its family approximately $10,000. I scoffed at this until we got Benny.

There's the puppy itself, of course: Pet stores often charge a thousand dollars or more, breeders want to cover their costs and vary between the five hundred to one thousand dollar range, and even a shelter needs a couple hundred bucks (though their cost, unlike the first two, often includes first vet visit and neutering).

Then there's the vet: First visit to verify the puppy's health ($50-100); second and third for booster shots ($50-100 for the visit itself plus $30-50 for the shots, each time); fourth for neutering ($150-300 depending on the weight of the dog, and some clinics charge for a visit in advance of the operation to assess health and do bloodwork); after that it's the yearly health check ($50-100), with vaccinations if required ($30-50), and, of course, any patching up needed due to fights, illness and accidents ($$$$$).

Basic equipment like kennel ($50-200), dishes ($20ish), collar and leash ($10-50 each), and food ($$ for the rest of his life!) are also standard thoughts when thinking of puppy care.

After six months the city of Edmonton requires us to have him licensed ($50?). Our apartment complex charges a "pet fee" ($800, which we managed to convince the roommate to split with us on account of his hidden cat).

So those are the obvious costs. But the less obvious crept up on us, and we willingly went along. Things like toys - You don't know what he'll like till you bring it home, and you want a huge range to keep him busy (I'd say we've got about twenty right now (approx $10 each) and he regularly plays with about seven of them). Things for him to chew - Pig ears ($5), chewy milkbones ($1 for two), rawhide in various shapes and sizes ($5-20), even a piece of cardboard (omgFREE!); all these need replacing regularly as they are consumed. Treats - again, what will he like best so that we can use the best possible motivation for training? (We've got four open bags of different kinds of treats; once we know what he likes best, we'll get more of that kind.) Three leashes: One in the car (free from the breeder) in case we forget to bring one along - we learned that lesson the hard way (hey, in a pinch a Guitar Hero strap works well enough!), one for regular walks ($15, blue with little cartoony bones on it!), and a loooooooong training leash (also free from the breeder, aren't they sweet?) for longer romps and later distance training. I've gotten him a head collar ($15) as that's supposed to help with leash training, but of course he's so small that the size for Beagles doesn't fit him yet...I held off on getting the smaller one though I could have.

A huge expense that popped up out of the blue was obedience training; although we're doing a pretty good job of getting him grounded, part of our contract with the breeder was to get professional guidance, either in classes or one-on-one. I hadn't even considered how much it might cost until I started looking into it: A certified trainer coming to our house is about $80 per session with six-session packages at a discounted rate, and I can't even find any classes in our area (PetSmart is not an option unless it's a certified trainer coming in to run the show). If this goes well with Benny, maybe I'll think about looking into it for my own career!

And certainly there will be other costs popping up that we can't see right now.

- A puppy takes its toll on his environment, and his people.
Our living room carpet is littered with bits of paper and chewed-up leaves, the remnants of muddy pawprints, and slightly darker patches where we cleaned up accidents; we've vacuumed but we'll have to get a carpet shampooer to straighten things out completely. Our bedspread has white grainy spots from where it's had a moist rawhide rubbed against it. There are tooth marks on table and chair legs, and little snags of carpet we keep snipping so they don't ravel.

As for us, well, I keep forgetting to put on earrings or finish my makeup, and don't even bother trying new things with my hair anymore; I've taken to trying nifty eyeshadow with sparkles in it to draw attention away from the dark circles under my eyes. My hands and arms are riddled with healing scratches and a deeper gouge in one palm attests to the fact that I tried to pull something out of an uncooperative animal's mouth (I think that was the day he found my undies). I haven't bothered giving myself a manicure since Benny came home. My supervisor at work kindly advised me last week where I could buy sticky lint rollers in bulk and it came as a surprise - I hadn't even noticed that my black sweater was littered with short-dog hair until I looked at it, so now I'm self-conscious about that as well...but too tired to care much.

- A puppy takes over your very existence.
For something so small, Benny takes up a lot of space, both physically and mentally. His pen commandeers a corner of the kitchen; his "room" comes with us wherever we are in the house; his toys are everywhere. Until we get a dresser into the bedroom, I have to shuffle the boxes with my clothes in order to get dressed in the morning, and they block the closet - just as well, since it's jammed full of stuff I shoved in there hastily when I realized he'd go after most of it.

He's been with us just over five weeks and he's almost all I think about, talk about, take pictures of, post on Facebook about...I'm sure my acquaintances are getting a little sick of hearing about him. We regiment our work schedules and going-out plans around who can look after him and whether anyone else is home to be disturbed by his crying. My joys come when he learns something new or does something spectacular, my sadness when he misbehaves.

It would be a little irritating if I didn't love him so much; in fact, this entire list would be unbearable if not for the thing that makes it all worthwhile:

- A puppy steals your heart and carries it with him.
So they're expensive, cause property damage, and they're physically and mentally exhausting. But they're so cute, with those big eyes, floppy ears, and oversized legs and feet. He comes to you when he needs something, and learns quickly to look for your approval and follow your lead when he doesn't know what to do; I take great pride in knowing that the puppy I'm raising will grow to be a dog who looks up with mild disinterest when a stranger walks past his fence, rather than proclaiming to all near and far that he's being invaded.

It's like having a child in that stage of infancy where they are becoming their own person but are still dependent, but one who will never one day scream that he hates you because you won't let him take the car. This small warm bundle of fur and ears and heart who's sprawled next to me now, snoring softly, may not have chosen to come home with us - but he chooses to want us, and that feels spectacular. There are times when I look at him and see the grown dog he will become, in a tilt of his head or a proactive sit, and I feel joy, pride, and love that goes both ways.

I grew up thinking I was a cat person. I always maintained that when I dog comes to you it's because you called it; when a cat comes to you, it's because it wants to and that means more. When I found my first dog, I relaxed my position because I realized through experience that a dog will only do what you ask if it wants to. Now I'm finding, more and more every day, that having a puppy disproves my theory entirely: Benny's whole life is about not only wanting to be with us, but wanting to please us, his people, because it makes him happy. And as we are learning together how to use positive reinforcement, we know this will be the basis of our entire relationship. When I call him, Admiral Benjamin Archer won't only come because he wants to, he'll find a way to show me that he means it - like sitting down when he gets to me, and waggling his entire rear end on the ground simply from hearing the words, "Good boy Benny!"

Postscript:
- A weaned puppy creates a stink storm inversely proportional to its size.
For the first few weeks he was with us, Benny had breath so terrible it could wilt flowers and put skunks to shame. His puppy farts are the epitome of "silent but deadly": Without any kind of warning, you can virtually see the cloud of gas fill the room. I've been told that both are brought on by the puppy's immature digestive system becoming accustomed to dealing with solid food, but that person wasn't trained in veterinary medicine. I think it's just further cruel proof that the fantastic adorable charm of a puppy forgives even the most heinous of crimes.
 

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Nice.You could submit that to a shelter.
 

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Oh my goodness! That is so true. Even today I am forever planning my day around the dog. I would for one thing say definitely work through the crying stage and get yours used to a kennel. It will be well worth it! Also find some area that you can confine your puppy. A puppy should not have free reign of the house. I always describe my Beagle as high maintenance, you describe it well. Hang in there, it will get better, there is lots of great advice on this site.
Welcome and thanks for the laughs :) I am actually surprised you had enough time to write that ;)

I just realized you're not new. lol Well hopefully things are better now. Thanks again for the humor!
 

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Story of my life 2014.

After reading this I think about the progress butters makes every single day and how he hasn't hasn't had an accident in the last 2months, I've been told I'm too precious with him and its just a dog, people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them I brush his teeth. and over research when his poo isn't as firm as usual or he starts biting or scratching himself more. I can totally relate to everything in your essay, my nighttime regimen has gone out the window I just want to brush my teeth and get in bed.

Thanks for a good read!
 

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Hmmm..Funny essay.
But do you write the same kind of essay when you have a child?
I know a lot of people say, oh it is only a dog.
Oh well, I think we are here because we have different thinking?
Am I right?
 

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Hey all, I wanted to share this little "essay" I wrote a few weeks ago - I'd been raving about puppyness on Facebook and realized all I was sharing were the great things and wanted to share and remember the reality as well. I'm sure you can all relate to most ....


The downsides of puppy ownership

For weeks now, I've been going on and on and on and on (and on) about this adorable smart devoted little canine creature that's come into our life and how wonderful it all is, but for some later date when I look back - or for anyone who decides it's so fantastic they should try it too - I must be realistic and look at the downsides as well.

- A young puppy has a tiny bladder.
In several weeks we haven't gotten a full night's sleep because the puppy has to go out and pee. This is one of the ways it's like having a baby; at least babies wear diapers that can be changed at leisure! We've read we can't fully depend on him to be housetrained until he reaches six months, owing to the immaturity of his bladder and surrounding muscles - that's three more months to go.

We take away his food and water after about 8pm (the one time we let him have a big drink before bed he didn't even wake himself up to let it all out - that taught us!) and even then it's at least twice between 9:30 and 6am. That's just at night; during the day we go anywhere from ten minutes to an hour between visits to the backyard, dependent on varying factors such as eating, drinking, playing, sleeping. He's gotten pretty good at telling us when he needs to go out but at times he's just so subtle that we don't notice, or it's like a young child who doesn't want to stop playing until the last possible second and then has to go NOW ooops.

- A puppy has to check out EVERYTHING.
Seriously, you can't puppy-proof a place until you've had a puppy in it. Redirection is great but he'll go back to something of interest until it's out of reach altogether, and then find something just as frustrating to get into.

For years, to save space in the bedroom, I've had my clothes in snazzy Ikea boxes under the bed and didn't even consider that might be an issue - until Benny wandered out with one of my good shirts; he'd gotten at it through the handle-holes in the side of the box. We've blocked him off from the front door area where all the shoes are because that's a losing battle - shoes smell FANTASTIC to a puppy nose (and just thank heavens he never discovered the candy dish that is the litterbox in the downstairs bathroom!). We still find him into things we thought he'd disregarded, but instead simply hadn't gotten into yet because there was something more interesting available at the time. This requires vigilance on the part of the people, leading to....

- A puppy is always there....
The first few days we followed him around like mama (and dada) hens, tracking his every movement, and it was purely exhausting. Is he about to pee on the carpet? Has he found something new to chew on? Is he about to be sideswiped by the cat?

We were well-meaning but we didn't need to watch as closely as we were, as mom-in-law Donna (a veteran puppy owner herself) pointed out. Accidents are going to happen; things are going to get chewed; puppy will learn a lesson from the cat. Roll with it. Since then it's been less of an all-consuming chore, but we still have to be aware of where he is and whether he's letting us know he needs to go out or is just quiet because he's found a pair of mommy's undies to chew on (evidently the greatest treasure of all time).

Even outside in the yard, there are things we need to redirect; for example, he's still small enough to squeeze under the fence when he wants to visit his beagle buddies next door, and he makes an attempt at digging from time to time. That's not to mention noticing and reinforcing the GOOD things he does, wherever he is, which is just as important as steering him away from bad behaviour. This makes it more difficult to do the things we used to, primarily watching TV and reading - and recovering from a cold or flu by resting all day is a huge challenge.

It's good in that it's got us more active - I'm already more fit than I was the day we brought him home! - but there are certainly times I wish I could just put the puppy away for a few hours and take him out when I'm ready.

- ....and always needs his people.
Speaking of putting him away for a few hours...That's simply not going to happen just yet, even though we're working with him to be okay when we're not around.

We both work. Luckily I'm home on weekends and Rob's home 3 days a week, but there are still times when we're both away. Puppy doesn't like that so much. He whines and cries if one of us so much as goes upstairs and leaves the puppy gate up so he can't follow us, let alone put him in his "room" (the crate, for short absences) or run (a fenced area in the kitchen, for longer than a couple hours).

We have roommates, and neighbours, and they didn't sign up for this; he can keep yowling for a looooong time. I know - I've videotaped him. It's heart-rending to say the least, eardrum-perforating to say the worst. We owe those roommates so much for taking him out during the day (the neighbours who can hear him have three beagles themselves; they've been there and are understanding).

But even beyond the absences, try taking a shower at six in the morning where puppy can't see you; stepping outside to toss the garbage; even going to the bathroom and shutting the door. Accompanying this challenge is suppressing the urge to come running back, to croon and soothe him and apologize for making him upset. That only feeds the problem and makes it worse next time, yet it's a struggle to stay matter-of-fact and a great way to feel like a heartless tyrant. What a great introduction to the next one:

- A puppy needs discipline.
You don't WANT to discipline a puppy. They're just too cute and sweet with those big eyes and oversized paws, tripping over themselves and flopping their ears around so they can't see.

We've read it and heard it over and over: Don't let a puppy do anything you wouldn't want an adult dog to do, and the first twelve weeks are the most formative part of his young life. Also, the best way to show a dog your disapproval is ignore him. So he doesn't get to lick our faces, or jump up on people, or beg for food; those are easy to redirect and we've been fairly successful so far. But what about growling at us when we touch the toy he's got, or instigating tug-of-war with a bone he found on his walk? Pulling on the leash as if he's hauling a sled, or nibbling our fingers (so adorable with tiny little puppy teeth that HURT LIKE NEEDLES OWOWOWWW). These are the kinds of things that require action, of the "I'm in charge and you're not, and I'm gonna show you the way a mommy dog would" variety.

In my own home, that's one thing - nobody's watching, I KNOW I'm not hurting him by grabbing the scruff of his neck until he quits biting - but it still takes some getting used to, his yips and yowls of protestation. Then he gets overexcited after visiting a playground full of kids, grabs my hand hard, and I've got to be consistent. There haven't been many times in life when I've felt like a wicked witch; holding a squirming puppy by the scruff of the neck while he screams bloody murder (and still manages to be adorable doing it) is one of them.

- A puppy chooses when he wants to listen....
Benny is only twelve weeks old. He shouldn't have to start learning yet, right? Well, he actually already knew "sit" when we picked him up from the breeder at eight weeks; within his first week with us he caught on that he would get more attention from us if he sat when he wanted something.

So does he sit every time we ask him? HELL no. After all, he's only twelve weeks old! He's a puppy! He gets to play and romp and do what he pleases! Well, that was good enough for me until I started teaching him to "lie down". His first "trick", shall we say, was attained with bribery: I used treats. It was a smashing success. The next day, I tried it again, this time with toys in place of treats, and he didn't lie down unless I patted the ground in front of him. Okay, I guess he's just forgotten with all the things that he's done since then (play, pee, sleep, pee, poop, sleep, eat, play...). That was fine until I brought out treats again. Soon as he saw them, something clicked and down he went - FLOOMP! "Mommy gives me treats when I lie down so I'll just lie down before she asks me to!"

It's been a few weeks and he'll only lie down immediately if I bring out the treats or he reeeally wants something; the rest of the time he looks at me like I'm talking a different language, or just does it veeeerrrry slooooowwlllyyy.

Right now I don't mind so much, and it's not a big deal, but this is one challenge that I've read will only get worse, not better, when he hits adolescence and puppy teenagerhood (about nine to twelve months) - the age of rebellion in dogs; he'll challenge us on committing to our requests and we'll have to (a) make sure he knows what we want before asking him to do it, and (b) be ready to expect him to follow through with it or face consequences.

- ...and those aren't always the times you want him to.
On the flipside, as we are still learning his language and his motivations, we find that we're unconsciously reinforcing behaviours we don't want him to continue. The most obvious example is barking: A human's first reaction to a barking dog is to yell at him, but in dog lingo that human is joining right in and barking along, so that makes it more than okay to not only keep going, but not hold back next time! The first time he grabbed his leash and took me for a walk, I laughed and went along with it - big mistake, as I now don't know how to tell him this isn't okay when he takes me for all our walks together. Oops.

- A puppy has a long battery life.
"Beagles for Dummies" repeats the mantra: "A tired Beagle is a happy Beagle," but I guess Benny hasn't read that book. Or he only paid attention to the other part about how Beagles were bred for endurance on long hunts over acres of land, never stopping for hours.

He almost never gets tired. Seriously. We can go for a half-hour walk and run him around the backyard, keep him moving as long as our attention holds out, but he's on his own little schedule. When we think maybe he'll settle down, he goes running off in another direction. Even after playing for hours with other dogs at "Grandma's" house. He's got plenty to keep him busy but he's just as likely to take out that alertness on something he shouldn't be doing, like tasting the books or trying to entice the cat to play.

Just like children, sleepy puppies get hyper and cranky, and out come the nipping, chewing and selective deafness. He won't settle down for the night till we're both in bed and the lights are out, so there goes the idea of getting other things done (though it is nice to have an "enforced" bedtime). On the plus side, when he does conk out it's usually immediate and thorough, with just enough alertness to drag himself somewhere he can see us before he falls off into dreamland; even then, he twitches and woofs, scenting and chasing some unseen prey, and occasionally he wakes himself up in the process.

There are days when this is an exception: in which Benny's morning and afternoon is spent in one continuous nap, punctuated by food and bathroom breaks, and he switches on at about 4 pm to burn off the excess energy by becoming Terror Pup, the brat we prefer not to see. We have come to call this phenomenon a "growing day", as the only cause we can figure out is that he's fueling a particularly taxing growth spurt. These are blessed days when we can also rest and get some other things done, but there's no way to tell when one of these days will come, so we just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best!

- A puppy is expensive.
I've read that, in North America, in the first year of its life a dog will cost its family approximately $10,000. I scoffed at this until we got Benny.

There's the puppy itself, of course: Pet stores often charge a thousand dollars or more, breeders want to cover their costs and vary between the five hundred to one thousand dollar range, and even a shelter needs a couple hundred bucks (though their cost, unlike the first two, often includes first vet visit and neutering).

Then there's the vet: First visit to verify the puppy's health ($50-100); second and third for booster shots ($50-100 for the visit itself plus $30-50 for the shots, each time); fourth for neutering ($150-300 depending on the weight of the dog, and some clinics charge for a visit in advance of the operation to assess health and do bloodwork); after that it's the yearly health check ($50-100), with vaccinations if required ($30-50), and, of course, any patching up needed due to fights, illness and accidents ($$$$$).

Basic equipment like kennel ($50-200), dishes ($20ish), collar and leash ($10-50 each), and food ($$ for the rest of his life!) are also standard thoughts when thinking of puppy care.

After six months the city of Edmonton requires us to have him licensed ($50?). Our apartment complex charges a "pet fee" ($800, which we managed to convince the roommate to split with us on account of his hidden cat).

So those are the obvious costs. But the less obvious crept up on us, and we willingly went along. Things like toys - You don't know what he'll like till you bring it home, and you want a huge range to keep him busy (I'd say we've got about twenty right now (approx $10 each) and he regularly plays with about seven of them). Things for him to chew - Pig ears ($5), chewy milkbones ($1 for two), rawhide in various shapes and sizes ($5-20), even a piece of cardboard (omgFREE!); all these need replacing regularly as they are consumed. Treats - again, what will he like best so that we can use the best possible motivation for training? (We've got four open bags of different kinds of treats; once we know what he likes best, we'll get more of that kind.) Three leashes: One in the car (free from the breeder) in case we forget to bring one along - we learned that lesson the hard way (hey, in a pinch a Guitar Hero strap works well enough!), one for regular walks ($15, blue with little cartoony bones on it!), and a loooooooong training leash (also free from the breeder, aren't they sweet?) for longer romps and later distance training. I've gotten him a head collar ($15) as that's supposed to help with leash training, but of course he's so small that the size for Beagles doesn't fit him yet...I held off on getting the smaller one though I could have.

A huge expense that popped up out of the blue was obedience training; although we're doing a pretty good job of getting him grounded, part of our contract with the breeder was to get professional guidance, either in classes or one-on-one. I hadn't even considered how much it might cost until I started looking into it: A certified trainer coming to our house is about $80 per session with six-session packages at a discounted rate, and I can't even find any classes in our area (PetSmart is not an option unless it's a certified trainer coming in to run the show). If this goes well with Benny, maybe I'll think about looking into it for my own career!

And certainly there will be other costs popping up that we can't see right now.

- A puppy takes its toll on his environment, and his people.
Our living room carpet is littered with bits of paper and chewed-up leaves, the remnants of muddy pawprints, and slightly darker patches where we cleaned up accidents; we've vacuumed but we'll have to get a carpet shampooer to straighten things out completely. Our bedspread has white grainy spots from where it's had a moist rawhide rubbed against it. There are tooth marks on table and chair legs, and little snags of carpet we keep snipping so they don't ravel.

As for us, well, I keep forgetting to put on earrings or finish my makeup, and don't even bother trying new things with my hair anymore; I've taken to trying nifty eyeshadow with sparkles in it to draw attention away from the dark circles under my eyes. My hands and arms are riddled with healing scratches and a deeper gouge in one palm attests to the fact that I tried to pull something out of an uncooperative animal's mouth (I think that was the day he found my undies). I haven't bothered giving myself a manicure since Benny came home. My supervisor at work kindly advised me last week where I could buy sticky lint rollers in bulk and it came as a surprise - I hadn't even noticed that my black sweater was littered with short-dog hair until I looked at it, so now I'm self-conscious about that as well...but too tired to care much.

- A puppy takes over your very existence.
For something so small, Benny takes up a lot of space, both physically and mentally. His pen commandeers a corner of the kitchen; his "room" comes with us wherever we are in the house; his toys are everywhere. Until we get a dresser into the bedroom, I have to shuffle the boxes with my clothes in order to get dressed in the morning, and they block the closet - just as well, since it's jammed full of stuff I shoved in there hastily when I realized he'd go after most of it.

He's been with us just over five weeks and he's almost all I think about, talk about, take pictures of, post on Facebook about...I'm sure my acquaintances are getting a little sick of hearing about him. We regiment our work schedules and going-out plans around who can look after him and whether anyone else is home to be disturbed by his crying. My joys come when he learns something new or does something spectacular, my sadness when he misbehaves.

It would be a little irritating if I didn't love him so much; in fact, this entire list would be unbearable if not for the thing that makes it all worthwhile:

- A puppy steals your heart and carries it with him.
So they're expensive, cause property damage, and they're physically and mentally exhausting. But they're so cute, with those big eyes, floppy ears, and oversized legs and feet. He comes to you when he needs something, and learns quickly to look for your approval and follow your lead when he doesn't know what to do; I take great pride in knowing that the puppy I'm raising will grow to be a dog who looks up with mild disinterest when a stranger walks past his fence, rather than proclaiming to all near and far that he's being invaded.

It's like having a child in that stage of infancy where they are becoming their own person but are still dependent, but one who will never one day scream that he hates you because you won't let him take the car. This small warm bundle of fur and ears and heart who's sprawled next to me now, snoring softly, may not have chosen to come home with us - but he chooses to want us, and that feels spectacular. There are times when I look at him and see the grown dog he will become, in a tilt of his head or a proactive sit, and I feel joy, pride, and love that goes both ways.

I grew up thinking I was a cat person. I always maintained that when I dog comes to you it's because you called it; when a cat comes to you, it's because it wants to and that means more. When I found my first dog, I relaxed my position because I realized through experience that a dog will only do what you ask if it wants to. Now I'm finding, more and more every day, that having a puppy disproves my theory entirely: Benny's whole life is about not only wanting to be with us, but wanting to please us, his people, because it makes him happy. And as we are learning together how to use positive reinforcement, we know this will be the basis of our entire relationship. When I call him, Admiral Benjamin Archer won't only come because he wants to, he'll find a way to show me that he means it - like sitting down when he gets to me, and waggling his entire rear end on the ground simply from hearing the words, "Good boy Benny!"

Postscript:
- A weaned puppy creates a stink storm inversely proportional to its size.

For the first few weeks he was with us, Benny had breath so terrible it could wilt flowers and put skunks to shame. His puppy farts are the epitome of "silent but deadly": Without any kind of warning, you can virtually see the cloud of gas fill the room. I've been told that both are brought on by the puppy's immature digestive system becoming accustomed to dealing with solid food, but that person wasn't trained in veterinary medicine. I think it's just further cruel proof that the fantastic adorable charm of a puppy forgives even the most heinous of crimes.
OMG, that was so good to read ! I see myself in it, closet blocked, hands with scares as i have to remove things out of his mouth, puppy farts as he gets carsick.. i can add other things, mine gets so carsick that he peed on me 😅
My puppy won't walk unless i hand yummy chicken in my hand. When he decide to walk is to go chase another dog or jump on people.
The only thing i would say you could have done better was training him more as a puppy, my baby fur is 14weeks he knows, sitt, down, heel, walk between my legs, spin, paw, stand,rollover jump and run. No free meal just trainfeed him. If i romove the food he will just ignore me 🤣
 
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