Thursday, September 11, 2014

Being a Single (Puppy) Parent can be Really Difficult!

I’m almost twenty six years old and a new single parent to my wonderful new pup Frankie. Having the opportunity to adopt him was not a decision I took lightly, though in the end, it was probably the greatest decision I have made. Sure it’s difficult to be a single parent, but there’s no joy greater than coming home to those sweet puppy eyes and seeing how excited they are to see you. There’s nothing better than curling up in your bed with your pup at night and binge watching The Mindy Project well past your bedtime. Or the moment they smile (because they do!) at you and your heart melts and you can no longer picture your life without them in it. Your whole life seems so trivial without them; they give it more meaning than you could’ve ever imagined. Being a puppy parent is probably the greatest thing in the world. But being a single puppy parent can be really difficult.

Couple puppy parents sometimes don’t realize how different it is to be a single parent. After all, it’s just you and your pup. I took days trying to come up with the name of my new pup; I wanted to give him a moniker that would not just suit him, but help him reach his potential. Names are very important, you see. In the days leading up to getting him I worried all day, every day, that I wouldn’t be able to give him everything he needs. I worried about something happening to him in his new home, I worried he’d be unhappy or wouldn’t adjust well to his new surroundings. I worried he wouldn’t get along with other dogs or misbehave and get himself into trouble. I worried that he’d get sick or injured, and did I have enough money in my savings to pay for vet bills? Do I have enough to start budgeting in the nice organic food that he deserves? For days and days I worried about that. And then I got him.

He was adorable and seemed to like me right off the bat. I’m a dog person and usually dogs like me. But this would be my dog. I didn’t need him to just like me or tolerate me. I needed him to love me. Because I already loved him. It was a hard couple days of adjustment. After I picked him up, he cried all the way to his new home. Every little howl ad whimper broke my heart. I tried to comfort him as much as possible. And of course he missed his other family! But I was terrified he wouldn’t love me after all. And then he didn’t eat very well the first couple days which made me feel like the absolute WORST parent EVER. One night I almost broke down into tears just trying to get him to eat. I was worried for his health, but all the books and websites said that was normal adjustment. It just seemed like every rejection of food was also a rejection of my love. Nobody tells you how hard it can be. But it really is.

After about a week things were a lot better but I'd say by two weeks our bond had formed. It was SO HARD to not try too hard and smother him and let it happen naturally! But then I started to learn a lot, really quickly. As a single puppy parent, you do all the things that two people would normally do, by yourself. You have to be the nurturer and the discipliner. You have to do all the bathing, feeding, shopping, walking, entertaining, and pooper-scooping all by yourself. Let me tell you, it can sometimes be really difficult. Depending on how big their bladders are, they could be waking you up (maybe multiple times!) in the middle of the night to go potty, outside in the cold. And when they’re hungry, boy do they let you know it! It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you have to stop and feed them or risk angering your neighbors from the grunts and barks you will receive until you give them what they want. You could have amazing plans, spend an hour getting ready and as you’re walking out the door, your little babe as diarrhea on the carpet and you have to spend the next ten minutes cleaning him, the carpet, the floor, and yourself. Ultimately you end up cancelling your plans because you’d just worry about him the whole time (and also a little (or a lot) about the poop storm you’d most likely come home to). Don’t even get me started on the fact that they will always be dying for a walk at precisely the wrong time. Like I said, it can be rough.

That is until you wake up to your pup sharing the pillow with you and he’s just contently staring back at you and you realize that they love you. Like, unconditionally love you. And at that moment, all the anxiety and worry is completely worth it. And there’s really no place you’d rather be than sitting at home playing with you pup (even though you spent tons of money on nice toys but they only seem to really like the yellow plastic lid that went to the peanuts container). 

Your friends without kids start noticing the changes and maybe even give you a little hell for it, but you know what, that's okay. It's okay that before you (finally!) go out at night, you have to stop by the house after work first to let them out to go potty and turn the lights and TV on so that they won’t feel so alone. And sure, you start planning less trips because you don’t want to be apart from them, but quite frankly, you’re okay with that. Instead you opt for day trips to the beach because your furry little love can come too, movie nights IN or making play dates at the park with your other single parent friends. And in the event that you do have to leave, you spare no expense making sure they’re in the best of care and have their favorite little treats to help ease the pain of separation. 

There really is nothing better than being a dog mom. And even though it can be down right difficult to be a single parent, your little fur baby makes it completely worth it. 

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