We know that the anticipation of adopting a new puppy is incomparable and you can plan and practice and read but every dog is different and learns at his or her own pace. They have different backgrounds and personalities and some may have trust issues. Take the time to really get to know your pooch and appreciate them for all the ways they break the mold. After all, the one thing you can count on when adopting a dog is that you should expect the unexpected. 

Expectation:

You have come to the time in your life when you are ready to adopt a furry family member. You’re absolutely BURSTING with excitement and when you aren’t browsing through page, after page, after page on Petfinder.com, you are daydreaming about coming home to your new little wiggle-butt and her welcoming “WOOF!” after a hard day’s work. You picture the instant connection when you finally get to meet your puppy face-to-face, the sleepy time snuggles, the companionable walks, the rambunctious games of fetch, and finally, the everlasting, unconditional love of your new best friend.

You’ve done the planning and researching. You know the good and the bad of the most popular breeds and you have identified the best options for your lifestyle. You’ve budgeted for the food and annual vet visit. You have read up on the healthiest treats, the most challenging toys, the best training techniques, and how to avoid annoying your friends by bombarding them with pictures. You scoured the city to find great local hiking trails, dog parks, and pet friendly restaurants. And, after spending hours pouring over your routine, you have created the perfect schedule.

As you put the final touches into puppy-proofing your home, you imagine her playing in the morning and spending her days napping in sun puddles while you’re at work. You picture the two of you snuggling on the couch after your evening walk and her sleeping peacefully in her kennel, right beside your bed, resting up after a full day of fun. You give the potty bell on the door a little jingle and smile because you get to pick her up tomorrow and YOU. ARE. READY! This is the BEST decision you have ever made!

Reality:

You found HER! That perfect furry little wiggle-butt! You fell in love with her face the second it came up on your screen. You made the call, filled out the 10 page application, paid the adoption fee and now she’s yours. You puppy proofed your house, stocked up on training treats, and reread all the highlighted sections of your books. As soon as you pull up to shelter your stomach is a bundle of nerves-you get to take her home! The second she is in your arms, your face is immediately covered in kisses. Why didn’t you get a puppy sooner? This is AWESOME!

Once you get home, you take her out to potty then get started on your meticulously made schedule. Every time you go outside, you jingle the potty bell to teach her how to tell you when she needs to go out. You begin to the transition her from the shelter’s dog food to the premium, high quality food that you know will keep her happy and healthy for many years. You spend the day playing and laughing and taking a few hundred photographs. Bedtime rolls around and your little fur ball is all tuckered out. It has been an altogether pretty good first day. She only peed in the house once (and it was on the tile) and only one of the indestructible stuffys you bought is missing some fluff. Not so bad. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. You tuck her into her kennel and say goodnight, BUT, as soon as you click off the lamp the whining and whimpering begins.

By 7 AM the next morning you’ve slept roughly 30 minutes (when you add up the 5 minute increments) but she is ready to play. After breakfast and a quick walk, you start working on training but nothing seems to be sticking. When you say “sit” she rolls-over. When you say “stay” she runs to you, full of joy. The shelter said they had started working on this, why isn’t she getting it? You shake your head and think, “It’s alright. She’s young and excited. We’re still figuring each other out.

When you wake up a week later you take a minute to reflect:

  • She still cries when you put her in her kennel, so much so that by Tuesday night you were so sleep deprived and your back hurt so bad from sleeping on the floor that you finally gave in. She is now sleeping on the bed with you, making your sheets smell like dog-but it’s worth it-she’s sleeping through the night.
  • She ate the potty bell, sending you into a panic and involving the Emergency Vet (effectively draining your bank account for the foreseeable future).
  • She has piddled in no fewer than 4 different spots on the carpet.
  • And she has started rolling-over regardless of what command you give her.

Feeling defeated you think, “Why isn’t this like I expected? Why did I think I was ready for this?” In that moment, she snuggles in just a little bit closer and you can’t help but smile. Even though nothing is going according to plan, she is part of your family now and she has your everlasting, unconditional love. This is the BEST decision you have ever made!