Raising A Puppy For the Very First Time Is Hard

You only have to be slightly insane to get a puppy.

Meet Luna, a half-Great Pyraneese, half-Labrador Retriever puppy my family and I adopted from the local shelter.

Up until now, I have only ever had cats. I’ve always been a bit offput by dogs. They drool, they slobber all over you and your things, they leave poop landmines for you to blunder into, they bark a lot, and they sort of smell. But my husband and kids have long desired a dog and after years of whittling down my resolve, we at long last took the plunge.

Puppies should really come with a warning label. I knew raising a puppy would be a lot of work, but knowing and living it are two entirely different beasts.

After only three days, I grudgingly wondered what I’d gotten myself into. Luna was adorable and fluffy, but required potty breaks during the night. She chewed on everything except one of the dozens of toys bought for her and she had a penchant for rolling in mud. The need to keep constant tabs on her whereabouts was as if I’d gone back in time to the days when my kids were still in diapers. I just wasn’t sure if I could handle it all.

Two weeks in, I was a frazzled mess. Luna was having potty accidents on the carpet every time I turned my back. She was already much bigger and her play-bites with her sharp baby teeth drew blood more often than not. Several shirts now sported little holes from her excited play sessions. I felt like I spent my entire evenings after work shepherding her around the house. And to top it all off, I hadn’t gotten a restful night’s sleep once.

At the start of the third week, my mental health decided to take a nosedive. I’d had a terrible day at work, a headache left me feeling nauseous, and when I got home, the entire house smelled like poop from an accident Luna had had while I was at work.

I broke. I felt overwhelmed and too exhausted to cope. As I sat on the couch, crying, hating myself and everything around me, a cold nose pressed into the side of my neck. Luna had sensed I was upset and come over to comfort me. I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her tight. I won’t lie and say I was magically better, but she saved me from spiraling even further. She cheered me up enough to allow me to realize that things weren’t so bad, that depression was yet again being a sneaky liar.

Now, a month later, I couldn’t imagine life without our Luna. Despite my beige carpet looking like a stained disaster from the hundred potty accidents we’ve had, and despite one shoe meeting a grisly end to needle-sharp puppy teeth, Luna has changed our family for the better.

My kids are being more proactive in taking on responsibilities to help with the puppy. My family gets more exercise now that we do daily walks with a rambunctious puppy. And me? I’ve learned to go with the flow better and hug my puppy when I feel down.

Besides, who could resist this lovable goof?

Photo of 12-week-old Luna playing with a chew toy by Rachel Russell

This article was cross-posted from Medium.