When we got a puppy this year, people thought we were mad. Three boys (one a toddler), 3 jobs, a busy household and illness; all the signs were there that we shouldn’t be doing this. We ourselves had agreed that we wouldn’t get a dog until our youngest was five years old and a taller. But we did it anyway.
Well a couple of things. Firstly was the aforementioned illness. Every few years, I suffer from re-occurring bouts of depression and 2016 was a particularly bad year for me. I think my wife and I thought some kind of therapy dog would be good for me. Even though I struggled to get out of bed and doing ANYTHING was a challenge, was I really up to looking after a dog, training her, feeding her, walking her etc? It would certainly give me something to concentrate on other than how I was feeling (but then again shouldn’t the kids already do that)?
I’d always wanted an English Springer Spaniel after spending time with an ex’s 15 yrs earlier and when a puppy became available from a breeder living in the road behind us, it seemed like fate. Duly collected, my kids of course fell in love immediately before the novelty wore off after a few days and it all fell back to me.
So how has it gone in the five months since?
Honestly, we didn’t realise how hard it would be raising a puppy. And expensive (between 1-2k a year). They’re like toddlers but with added teeth (used for exploring everything) and have boundless energy. She’s stripped all the wallpaper off in the back room, chewed through the skirting boards and chomped through a live wire amongst other things. Training is nowhere as easy as the books make it out to be, my middle child won’t have anything to do with her (although he’s mellowing - and you often catch him stroking and talking to Ellie when he thinks nobody is looking), my smallest loves her but you have to be careful, and my wife slightly resents her taking up so much of my time (although she’s mellowing and you often catch her stroking and talking to Ellie when she thinks nobody is looking).
Oh and did I mention the lakes of wee? Every time she sees you, or you stroke her or something really exciting happens, she does an excited wee. She can’t help it, just pray she’s not sitting on you when she does it. I’m reliably told she’ll grow out of it.
In short, if we knew all this before hand we probably wouldn’t have got a dog right now. All our reasons for waiting were well founded.
But is it all hardship and bad news? Certainly not. She’s a part of the family now and it wouldn’t be the same without her.
She’s certainly helped both my mental and physical health. My depression is virtually gone (for now), all that dog walking has increased my stamina, forced me to get out into the fresh air every day and basically re-examine my priorities. For the first time in a long time I’m beginning to see my weight drop. And the dog training? Well it’s actually training me to be more patient with both the dog AND my children. And this is a big secret. I’M USING THE PUPPY TRAINING TECHNIQUES ON MY KIDS...AND IT’S WORKING. Sorry guys.
Lastly, Ellie’s a big cuddler and there’s nothing better than an oversize dog jumping on your lap for a cuddle and an affirmation each day. She needs it as much as I do. She brightens my day, every day and a happier me is making for a happier family. That can only be a good thing.
You can follow Ellie on instagram here
Big thanks to sharing your story - and I'm glad that despite the teeth (oh God, the teeth!) you have stuck with it - it does indeed get easier - no really....well OK a bit. Fizz is nearly one year old now! I can look back and barely recall the horror of wet puddles in the hall, and she no longer bites everything in sight!