We know so many people who have adopted puppies since the pandemic started last year. It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans adopted dogs while stuck at home!
With so many people working from home and rarely leaving their house, there’s never been a more perfect time for housetraining and getting a puppy on a schedule.
My Facebook timeline has been filled with puppy pictures from friends hopping on the pandemic puppy bandwagon.
Now we have, too, unexpectedly. We never thought that our beloved 9-year-old Goldendoodle, Autumn, the love of our lives, would suddenly and brutally us at the end of December 2020.
But after just one month of feeling the gaping hole she left in our lives and our hearts, I was begging E and Z to let me get on the puppy waiting list at Autumn’s breeder. I simply couldn’t stand not having a glorious Goldendoodle in our lives.
I knew she wouldn’t replace Autumn, but I thought a new puppy might help fill the hole in my heart. And I was right – Lamborghini definitely has helped.
We placed a deposit for our puppy in the cold months of winter, months before she even existed. When the mother and father dog were bred in early spring, we began crossing our fingers and hoping for a healthy puppy. When mama Cocoapuffs went into labor two days before my birthday, we rejoiced! And a few months later, our little black Lamborghini came home to our family forever.
Lamborghini is very different from Autumn even though they are the same breed, from the same breeder and share several similar characteristics. Just having this little puppy in our lives has made it possible for me to look at Autumn’s photos and think about her with love and happy memories again, rather than pain and the trauma of her sudden loss.
Lamborghini is a joy – and she is also a lot of work! Puppies are no joke. Last time we got a puppy, I thought we were nuts because Xage was a toddler and it was like adding a baby to the mix. E and I were both working full-time outside of the home, so we definitely had our hands full.
This time, it’s easier in a lot of ways because E and I both work from home, plus I work part-time now. That has really helped with getting and keeping Lamborghini on a workable schedule. It certainly doesn’t mean life with a puppy is easy – just easier.
Last time around, because I was still nursing little Xage and working full-time, E took on most of the puppy duties – including the middle of the night potty breaks. These days, he has a far more demanding job so most of the puppy duties are falling to me. Thankfully, E is a night owl so he takes Lamborghini out for her 1:30 am break – for which I am eternally grateful!
Puppies create a lot of work, though, and it makes sense to have a family conversation to figure out in advance who will help out, when and where – or you know it will all end up being mom’s job. Xage was resistant to helping out with the puppy at first, because they see it as MY puppy since I’m the one who asked for her.
Thankfully, over time Lamborghini is stealing her way into Xage’s heart and hopefully soon we can all agree this is a family puppy and not just mine. I never intended Lambo to be just mine – I wanted her to be our family dog, like Autumn was.
Lambo is sweet and smart, making for a good addition to the pack all around. Our smaller but older dog, Dani, is adjusting remarkably well and actually seems to enjoy playing with the puppy at times. Our beloved pandemic kitty, Galaxy, has also reluctantly accepted the puppy. My dearest hope is that by Christmas, the three of them will be ready for family photos snuggled together under the tree! Hey, a girl can dream.
I guess my three biggest tips for anyone who has not yet gotten a pandemic puppy – if there are folks out there who haven’t yet – are as follows:
1. Know that all additional puppy duties will likely fall to mom. If you know and accept this going in, you’ll be less bitter and resentful about it. Possibly. But in all honesty, it works like this in most homes. The work of nurturing, raising and cleaning up after babies of any species traditionally falls to the “mom” figure – even if the kids swear they will do it all themselves. The only exception in our house are the snakes, which E takes care of exclusively since Xage bequeathed them to their dad. I’m thankful for that! And I honestly don’t mind being Lambo’s primary caretaker, because there are benefits: she loves me best. She comes to me for snuggles at naptime – and everyone knows a sleepy puppy is the very best puppy of all.
2. Consider how the puppy will impact your time and where that time will come from. Adding new daily and even hourly “chores” (for lack of a better word) like walks outside, cleaning up small disasters and playing with the puppy will cut into your time. Anything we add something to our lives and time, we also have to give something up. That means you have to figure out what you’re willing to give up in order to make that time available for the puppy. In my case, I’m thrilled to share that I’ve pretty much given up my nightly habit of TV/movie-watching in bed. I don’t miss it – in fact, it’s something I have felt guilty about for years. Instead, I’m going right to sleep when I get in bed, then waking up early and taking lots of walks with the dogs. I’m also reading books again, because it feels like something I can do on the couch or floor while I play with or supervise Lambo, or while she naps. I absolutely love this lifestyle change.
3. Enjoy the crazy puppy days because they’ll soon be over. I know it sounds nuts telling you to enjoy this hectic time with a four-legged, furry toddler who runs faster than you, chews everything in sight and is prone to make small yellow puddles anytime they leave your sight for a minute. But I barely remember Autumn’s puppy days – they went by so quickly in the grand scheme of things. She was a sharp-toothed hell baby from about three to 7 or 8 months of age, and then she morphed into the calm, perfect doggie angel she was for the next 9 years. I feel like I am cherishing Lambo’s puppyhood more than I did with Autumn. Back then, I had my hands full with Xage and a fenced-in yard, so often baby Autumn was just turned loose out back to raise herself while I nursed our demanding toddler. Today, I’m able to sit quietly and pet Lambo’s silky-soft fur while she chews on a toy… or, my personal favorite, let her suck on my thumb as she drifts off for yet another puppy nap.
I look forward to the gorgeous and great dog Lamborghini will grow into – but in the meantime, I’m also savoring and appreciating all the cuteness, playfulness, learning and growing that comes with the puppy stage. For example, Lambo has this adorable habit of taking three steps backwards and sitting down anytime she sees something new for the first time that blows her mind. It’s adorable! And, anytime the puppy craziness gets too much – or we have to run errands or meet a friend – we can put her in her sleeping cave (aka crate) to help her have some much-needed downtime.
Do you have other tips from raising your own pandemic puppy – or have you managed to resist the temptation to bring one home? I’d love to hear your pup tales in the comments below or over on Facebook.