"Having a dog is a big responsibility" - spoken by anyone who has owned a dog before. "I am ready" - spoken by a naive potential dog owner
Today's post is a little different to what I am normally put out there. But I created this blog to share as much information that will be helpful to others as I can. Which is why I wanted to share this.
I make this post not to deter you from owning a dog, but to highlight some of the lessons I have learnt over the past 2 years of owning a dog. From Puppy to 2 Years old. This is the story of Basil.
Let's go back to March 2014 when my previous partner (out of respect/privacy I will just reference her as G) and I, decided it would be great to have a dog around. We were both fairly stable in our careers, had been dating a while and had just rented a house together with a great size backyard that would be perfect for a dog.
We talked about it and decided we would start looking and if the right pup came along, we would get it. We both liked big dogs, and wanted a boy...so now we just had to find the right one. Although they say the dog actually chooses you (which it's actually true).
We also decided to rescue a dog. When G suggested a 'rescue dog' I was originally skeptical as I honestly thought they were 'damaged'. Turns out it is one of the best things you can do. There are so many pets out there that need a home and love, I'm really glad we made that choice.
After looking at one other dog about 30 minutes from Melbourne and deciding it wasn't for us, we continued searching. Which is when a handsome young chap named 'Tyrion' showed up on Petrescue.com.au. He was around 2 hours away at a foster carer's home in Stanhope, Victoria.
When adopting there is a little bit of a process to ensure you will be responsible parents which included an application process, pictures of your backyard to see if it's safe/suitable (side note: it used to be perfect....used to), and also questions to judge you as future parents.
We got approved and traveled down to see if Tyrion was for us.
With no expectations, we made our way to Stanhope on a Sunday afternoon in March 2014. If we thought he was going to be a good addition to the family, we would come back the next weekend and sort out the paperwork and payment.
20 minutes with this puppy and I could tell we would be heading home with this 13 week old little cutie that day.
We could tell the foster parents were not taking good care of him as when we asked what he was like on the lead she said she wasn't quite sure and told us 'he gets a lot of backyard exercise' (read: I've never walked him), and he also had worms (carer tried to tell us he had spaghetti for dinner the night before after we saw him crap some worms out l0l). We literally had to rescue this dog!
OK, we now had ourselves a dog.
But we had our first problem...We didn't have a lead, collar or a food bowl!
So off to town we went. It was 2:30pm by this time, and if you don't know Stanhope, it's very, VERY small. Fortunately the only pet store in town was indeed open so we got what we needed. We withdrew some cash for his adoption fee and within an hour...we had ourselves a new dog!
First things first, that name had to go.
What is Tyrion anyway?! (apparently a Game of Thrown's character...but I've never honestly watched it..but you can crucify me for that another day).
Anyway, I am not well versed in dog names, but even I knew that was terrible. I suggested 'Dillon' in the car...but after being mocked for 10 minutes for such a crap name, G suggested 'Basil'. I must admit, it is one of the best names out there. Suits him perfectly.
Basil @ 13 weeks
It's also essential that you choose a dog breed that you can cater to. There is no point getting a working dog, or a large breed dog if you live in an apartment and are never home. That's not fair. You would be more suited to get a shit-sue (did I spell that right? ;)). You need to consider the dog more than anything in the purchasing decision. Of course it's not as serious as having a child, but they do need to be considered. You also need to be aware of malting (even for a short hair dog, Basil's malting is insane) and also maintenance (longer hair dogs will need hair clipping and regular coat maintenance).
So at 13 weeks old, we literally had no idea what we were into. I hadn't ever really owned dogs before (I mean I had 2 when I was around 8 years old until I moved out at 17, but I had no idea what good dog ownership was about.
Plus with those dogs we did everything wrong....no discipline, no classes, no daily walks. And it showed. They had terrible manners.
But after some stern advice from G, we enrolled the little man into puppy classes - 1 night per week for 4 weeks. Coming from a background of never giving a dog discipline or lessons, I had no idea this is what you needed to do, but looking back now, I am extremely grateful for G pushing hard for this.
So off to class we went. This is essential for anyone looking to own a dog. I highly recommend getting them enrolled early in classes. The earlier the better. These early stages really help with their development, how they socialise with other dogs and help with the bond between you and your dog. I never knew it was a big deal, but learning to communicate with your dog is just as much about you as it is about them.
So while he was getting some good education at puppy school, we also did a bit of home schooling during the week. I'm a little biased, but he is a very quick learner (just like his dad, right? ;)). But one thing he wasn't quite grasping was the whole chewing thing.
Actually that's a false statement.....he was very, very, very good at chewing. All in all I think the tally of destruction would total at least $2500. Expensive jumpers and pants, around 5 of his own walking leads, G's brand new $150 shoes that she had only worn once, around 10 bra's, 4 random havianna thongs, and even his own bed fell victim to this little dude's addiction to chew.
(OH and he also chewed the ADSL internet cable under the house which would normally incur a $350 call out fee, but Telstra didn't charge us for that because they thought it was a rodent...! I obviously kept my mouth shut).
Fortunately this was just a phase (albeit expensive), and after around 6 months old, he stopped the chewing of other people's possessions business and now only chews on his toys and bones (which he is lucky enough to get at least 1-2 times per week).
I'm not going to get into expenses, as there are a ton of other guides out there but just be aware of a few things that will be required:
- Vet Yearly Checkups
- Pet Insurance (yes this is a thing, and yes you should get it)
- Puppy School and Continuing Education (uber important)
- Worming/Flea Treatment/Random Medical
- Maintenance (baths, clipping, hair etc)
Next, I want to cover off continual development and classes for Dogs. Continual development is just as important for dogs as it is for humans. Dogs thrive on challenge. Education is also a major part of the bond development between you and your dog.
Basil going to Christmas Class put on by the dog training team..it was dress up day!
Your ability to speak to them in their language has a direct correlation to how good of an experience you will have with your new dog. I cannot stress this point enough.
This is especially important for Bas because of the Kelpie inside of him. He has A LOT of energy and loves the 2 walks per day he comes on with me. But it's not just physical stimulation. Remember at the start of the article how I mentioned we had a perfect backyard....hmmm not so perfect anymore. This is due to boredom, frustration. Once I started testing him more, the damage stopped and the backyard is slowly starting to look better.
For the next 12 months, everything was good. Basil was enrolled in classes and was doing great. He would get a morning walk with G, followed by a nightly walk with me. Then we switched it up and he started getting a 1 hour walk in the mornings while I listened to my audio books. He loved it because we were out for ages, and I loved it as I was learning and walking...!
Unfortunately, as life goes sometimes, G and I split. This meant a couple of things. Basil wouldn't be able to have both a mum and a dad. And since I was going to stay in the house with the backyard, G and I decided that he would stay with me. I do truly appreciate the gift that G gave to me, as I know she loved him very dearly (I mean who couldn't!).
But this also meant a couple of things. Mainly that I was now a single dad.
Which is when the reality kicked in.
I had a 18 month old puppy (I call him a puppy, but he was a teenager by this stage), that I was now the sole carer of. Both walks would need to be conducted by me, feeding each night by me, all his expenses and care were me.
What you don't realise is that without someone else in the picture (my old partner), you are the everything to this creature.
You are their world.
After making a couple of early mistakes (such as forgetting to feed him one night and having to give him food at 3am *oops sorry Bas*), I set myself strict standards from that point on. Never again would I forget and he would now be fed between 6pm and 7pm every night. This still holds true to this very day.
You will also need to know that if/when you plan to travel, you have a solid plan in place. 2 years ago, before I had Basil, I had no idea that I would want to join the public speaking circuit and share my knowledge. I didn't think I even liked travel. Now, I am opening my eyes to the many opportunities but must also consider him in these options. Although a few of my close friends have been great while I have done some travel, no-one will take care of him like I do and no-one will provide 2 walks like I do.
Although generally positive, of course I am human, and have been through dark times. But the one thing that can always pull me through is the little dude sitting next to me with four legs.
My Motivation in the gym. He Deadlifted This!
It is a massive responsibility. Which is why I ask you to please be careful when deciding if you are ready for a dog. You need to consider all situations and think long and hard about it.
But I wouldn't change anything for the world.
Basil has changed my life, and I love this pup and the lessons he shares.
Speaking of which, he is staring at me with those big brown eyes and urging me to take him for his second walk....
Until next time....
P.S: Here are a few pictures of him to keep you smiling:
Normal Dog is Normal.
Coolest Dude Ever...Right?
Roadtrip to the Beach! (he actually hates the car)
Basil is my Cafe date nearly every day (he is also much more popular with the ladies!)
Watching Dad Work!