Yikes, we will soon have had Lottie for a whole year and I cannot believe how quickly that time has passed. It seems like a lifetime ago that we even started to consider having our own dog, and now we have a one-year-old madam who is the Queen of our home and chief shredder at Qtique.
Getting a puppy has been an overwhelming challenging but wonderfully rewarding experience, one that I don’t think any first-time dog parent can truly understand until they’ve taken the plunge themselves. It may sound dramatic, but bringing a puppy home is not easy in the slightest and your life changes the day you pick the little darling/scamp up. I’m surprised I haven’t written about this sooner as when I was just about to become Mother of Dog, I spent *months* trawling the internet reading others experiences of puppyhood. In this post I am going to share my puppy learnings and what it has really been like being part of Lottie’s first year (and also to have a reason to put up a copious amount of baby puppy photos).
Lottie is a F1 Cockapoo, which means she is a crossbreed of a pedigree Cocker Spaniel and a pedigree Poodle. Her Father had a straight dark brown coat and her Mother had a super curly white coat, which resulted in Lottie’s being ever changing between curly, straight, white, blonde, apricot and ginger - although, she always sports her staple curly white fro on top of her head. She was the only girl in her litter, which we thought might make her a little timid, but it’s clear now that she was the bossiest out of her siblings and ruled their pen.
Lottie has a never ending abundance of energy and frequently warrants comments like “is it normal for a dog to be able to move that fast?” and “how is it physically possible that she has not passed out yet?”. I mean, she has a ginger racing stripe down her back, she’s pretty hardcore. Lottie is full of naughtiness and has brought us lots of challenges, but is also so full of love and fills us with happiness everyday. Bringing her into our lives is the most rewarding thing we’ve done so far and we’re so proud to have her.
We (the chap and I) decided we wanted to get a dog about a year and a half ago. I was yearning to have something to look after, and the chap had had enough of me mothering him. We both have always loved dogs and had them growing up, and decided we would start looking into making his dream of having an army of dogs a reality. We both run our own companies and felt we could manage the demands of bringing a dog into our lives. I was pre-launch with Qtique and knew that then was an ideal time to look after a puppy before my business officially got going – it was one of those of now or never moments.
I spent six months or so researching everything I could about dogs and finding a breed. We decided on a Cockapoo when we were walking in Notting Hill, and there was this little darling Cockapoo called Dash taking a nap in the sun outside Daylesford Farmshop
and I fell in love. I stopped and chatted (grilled) Dash’s owners about her temperament and personality and felt relieved and excited to have found exactly what we were looking for.
I did a lot more research into Cockapoo breeders until I found one that was reputable – it was quite alarming how many puppy farms I came across, most disguised as credible breeders. We discussed whether to get a rescue dog or to buy from a breeder (our families have experience with both) and decided for our first pup we would buy from a reputable breeder. I found a lady who bred Cockapoos near my hometown of Cambridge and asked her when she would be having a litter next, which was in May. After some intense questioning about our abilities as dog parents, we passed and I put our names down for a girl. It was quite nerve wracking really, actually confirming that we were going to get a puppy. We got a text when she was born, then went to visit her and her parents when she was 4 weeks old. She was just this tiny little orange nugget of absolute cuteness and we were hopelessly in love. The expectant Dogmother anxiety set in and stayed with me until we picked her up 4 weeks later in July.
Taking Lottie home
In the time before picking Lottie up, I went overboard with prep and tried to get everything as ready and perfect as possible. I took my obsessive planning one step further by joining Cockapoo forums, reading a ton of puppy books
, creating training schedules and bought far too many pup related goodies for her arrival. We had her crate
set up, wee carpet remover
at the ready, and enough toys for 50 puppies.
We drove to Cambridge, checked all her paperwork and brought her back home. Even after everything I read, in action I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. She was incredibly scared and nervous so I wrapped her in a blanket
and she fell asleep on my lap, and I just stared with fear at her. That day was such a blur, my main memories were of feeling overcome with self-doubt at being a good Dogmother and terrified that I was now master of this “innocent” little pup. Fortunately, because of all of my research I was semi-prepared for puppyisms, even if I didn’t believe I was qualified enough to act on them.
I don’t think any puppy owner can forget their first night of puppy cries. In a nutshell, it sounds like world is ending. There is no time for a new puppy to sleep when it can whine and yelp all night instead. For us, this lasted months and we tried everything at length that was recommended. After a successful week of quiet we thought we had cracked it, but then one night Lottie decided that she absolutely could never be by herself ever again and the crate had to go. I was pro-crate (as the vets and all my books had said to keep at it, and I was adamant to be a proper puppy owner by their standards), but the chap hated the thing (I had caught him lying next to it, basically weeping back at her). Once it was banished, he and Lottie rejoiced and swiftly brought her first bed
into our room, and she hasn’t left since.
The first three months were wholly overwhelming. As the main carer of Lottie, I was in charge and soon learned that she had to have at least both my eyes kept on her every second of the day. If she wasn’t chewing my laptop, she was peeing on the carpet, redecorating the house with her poop, or nipping at my fingers (we frequently referred to her at this time as a Crocapoo). It felt like there was no end and that we had been cursed with this awful beast who was the reincarnation of Taz. I got by on a few hours of sleep (I am a *big* sleeper) yet oddly still managed to function. I think having something completely dependent on you gives your brain a bit of a shake up, which I actually didn’t mind. My Mother helped me out when I had too much work on that I needed to get done, and would frequently remind me that even her four children as newborn babies were not this demanding. However, after taking Lottie to puppy classes
, socailsing, disciplining, getting into a routine and establishing who actually was leader of our pack (no, not Lottie), things slowly got easier.
Financially, we took a *bit* of a hit (after replacing 2 carpets, Chanel sunglasses and hoover parts that were not our own) and possibly did not anticipate how much terror one small ball of fluff can cause. She is thankfully starting to cost much less now and has learned to suffice with paper documents and packaging for shredding practice.
Watching her personality develop in last 8 months and seeing that she does have other traits other than just being naughty has been the most enjoyable part of her watching her grow up. The amount Lottie has changed in a year amazes us, in a blink of an eye she has become such an independent little madam. Although the teenager stage truly tested my patience (when the little scoundrel forgot everything I ever taught her in a bid to assert her authority), we did manage to get back on track. Week-by-week she has become slightly less of a nightmare and right now, she’s kindly sitting in her bed carefully removing the nose off her new baby bear allowing me to write this post.
Our puppy, one year on
Naively, I think we wrongly assumed that when people told us having a puppy is really hard work, they were exaggerating. A puppy is a terror, but one you love deeply. You need to be able to dedicate three months to getting through those first vital stages of development that determine your puppy’s future behavior. You need the stamina of the most selfless parent and it impossible to anticipate the amount of love and work that goes into this precious human-dog bond.
Lottie is still high maintenance, but I think that comes with the breed and probably a little to do with the fact that she is utterly spoiled by us (her dinners are usually better than mine). We are learning to worry a smidgen less about her, and give ourselves a little more credit that she is a healthy and happy dog under our ownership. We’ve stopped taking her to the vets for Google diagnosed cases of the bubonic plague (she had teenage dog acne) and have even gotten her semi-used to going to the kennels (alas, she still hates prison).
Daily care of her is, dare I say, pretty easy now. She has a very busy schedule everyday, which mainly consists of scamping, napping, digging, gobbling and fetching. We walk her for an hour, which is just enough time to fit in the 800 sprints with her ball throwing stick
needed to tire her out. She is a piglet and loves her food, and no longer leaves surprises on the carpers. Her hair requires more attention than mine, and is growing wilder with age. And she still sleeps in our room because her Dogfather would rather she is in there than me.
Lottie is a wonderful dog full of personality. She’s our little oddball and we allow her to be the sassy diva that she is in return for her unconditional love. She’s genuinely hilarious – managing to provide at least one lolz worthy moment a day, and is frightfully clever – challenging her poor grandmother’s intellect every time she sees her. We make sure she is both a city and country dog, and love bringing her to and from London and the Cotwolds. She loves to accompany us to work and on our travels – even if it is to do a train station drop off down the road, and always remembers to put her seatbelt
on. She is fiercely loyal, even on dog walks she frequently checks back on her family members for a head count to make sure everyone is still alive (mainly Dogfather as he is rather slow in comparison to us both).
The rewards of having Lottie have far outweighed the responsibilities that go with sharing our lives with her. She is rightly the favourite member of our family and her faithful unbounded love is a precious gift. We feel very lucky to have been landed with such an awesome pooch.
One last picture...
Ok maybe just one more...
If you have a darling pup also, I’d love for you to share your accounts too. There’s nothing I enjoy reading more than a tale full of innocent mischief!