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What they don't tell you before getting a puppy

Flash back to January 2015. I had just flown in from one of my best friends weddings in Dubai. A week or so later I had taken a Friday afternoon off work and went shopping. Walking past the local pet store I looked in and saw this beautiful little man staring back at me wagging his tail. It was a Beaglier (Beagle x King Charles spaniel). I had never heard of this breed before, I had heard of them separately but not as this mix. I am vehemently opposed to buying a dog from a pet store as I don't want to promote or support puppy farms so I thought ok I'll take the weekend and research the breed, If I come back on Monday and this little guy is still here it's a sign. So that weekend I did my research and lo and behold I found a breeder from just outside Melbourne in Victoria that had a litter of Beagliers on Christmas day so about 6 weeks earlier. Christmas day is not only my brothers birthday so I thought ok this is another sign, but they only had 2 males left. I rang them up and spoke to them and checked them out. Monday came around and first thing I went back to the pet store and the pup was still there. I Immediately rang the breeder back and paid the deposit for Ajay. I then remember ringing my parents who were on their way driving up the coast to say "guess what, I bought a puppy, do you want to come down to Melbourne with me to meet him" - Cue complete silence in the car. My dad then said "Right and I guess i'll be looking after it then" Look my parents know i'm impulsive, call it a Leo/ Virgo thing, and they should know by now that some of my most impulsive decisions have been the best of my life, moving to Canberra, moving to Canada and getting Ajay.

Now 3 years on and adopting Ajay is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life.

I'm going to share with you what getting a puppy taught me and what did I wish I had known before I got him

1. The puppy stage will end I promise - I remember thinking that the puppy stage lasted for ever and feeling so stressed during it. Looking back now he was the most chilled dog ever compared to most puppies!! He still is! So many people comment at how calm he is and non reactive. He barely barks (even if he walks past other dogs barking and growling at him he usually just looks up at me like "meh", has literally never once cried at night (literally not even on his first night I bought him home) and hasn't peed inside since he was 4 months old. BUT I'm not going to lie the puppy stage was quite hard and there were times when I thought wtf have I done? It's hard, especially being on your own looking after a puppy, you have to be there 3 times a day to feed them as at the beginning they need breakfast, lunch and dinner. If they aren't out in a yard you need to take them out to the toilet every 3 - 4 hours as they don't have huge bladders and they have lots and lots of energy so need 3 or 4 small 20 - 30 min walks per day. But a walk could mean 40 minutes and you only get 300 or 400m as they stop and sniff everrrrrrrrything, So not a lot of time for a social life let alone your own exercise, which if you are used to exercising a lot like I was, can be a huge change and caused me a lot of stress. But I guess getting a puppy is like childbirth/ having children . . . you forget how hard it is and go for round 2 because if you didn't everyone would be only children haha. (and no i'm not saying I'm getting another puppy just yet but I definitely would in the future). And look now I've done it once I know how to deal with it.

2. They become your children - Let me first say this. Before getting Ajay I never thought I would love him as much as I do. I mean I knew I would love him and I was so excited to get him, but I love him as if he is my son and quite often refer to him as that. I never ever thought I would be that person referring to my dog as my son but truth be told he is. He is such a part of not only my but my whole family's life.

My whole family now loves him. My mum and sister I knew would, mum having grown up with dogs and my sister loving dogs from an early age but even my dad and brother, who I definitely wouldn't have called dog people before they met Ajay, are literally obsessed. So much so that when I go to my parents and walk in the door quite often it's, "Is Ajay here?" and a look of disappointment when I say no he's at home. And if he's sick and I have to take him to the vet it's always my dad who's first to ring or message "how's my little mate going?"

3. It is like having a permanent 1 year old - In the fact that they can't talk and tell you what is wrong. They can't say "mum my shoulder hurts" or "I'm about to vomit" so a lot of it is second guessing and you get very good at reading their body language.

4. Children and dogs do mix - My niece absolutely adores him too and is literally his number one fan. You should see her face light up when she sees him and how crushed she looks when he has an 'Owie' or has been to the "doctor" (aka vet but in her mind it's the doctor). it's been amazing to see them grow and interact together and Ajay was her third word After mamma and dadda. (I may have had something to do with that repeating Ajay in her ear every chance I got hahaha) But in saying this, dogs and children need very strict boundaries and guidelines. Too often it is the dog at fault when an accident occurs between dog and child but you need to teach the kids how to behave appropriately around not only your dog but other dogs and to see the warning signs before something bad happens. We've been so strict with teaching my niece how to be gentle with Ajay and that when Ajay's sleeping means we don't touch. We've also been very strict with Ajay on not jumping on her or stealing her food.

5. Training takes time but pays off for years after - The best thing I ever did was take Ajay to puppy school. As I had never had a dog before I had no idea how to go about training him and what was involved. The first 16 weeks of a dogs life are when good habbits can be formed and you can out train the bad habbits. After that I learnt it takes a lot longer to get rid of bad habbits so if you can put in a lot of training in this time and it will pay off for the rest of the dogs life.

As hard as a puppy/ dog might seem, there is nothing better than the unconditional love they provide or coming home to that smiling face everyday!

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