Hey blog, meet our new Puppy.. Bernie Bradshaw! I’ve been wanting to write this real, raw and very honest post about what it’s really like to own a puppy when you’re a very inexperienced dog person, so let’s go…
Let’s Be Real
Let’s first start this post of by saying I have never, ever in my entire life.. owned a dog. None of my family have ever owned a dog and I have no friends that own dogs either. So, when the conversation of getting a puppy came up in our household, it’s safe to say I was very nervous and felt extremely inexperienced. When we eventually went to see a small litter of Shih Tzu’s, I very firmly in my head knew I would not be leaving with one.
Then I saw Chris’ face when the breeder brought out Bernie, the smallest little puppy of the litter. White with light brown spots and the tiniest nose you have ever seen. Bright greeny, blue eyes that were almost human and a very concerned expression. It was tough to hold back on the love that we both instantly felt towards him and that was it.. we were puppy owners.
We are SO lucky these days because there is endless amounts of accessible information on raising a puppy (too much, infact) We booked a week away before picking up our pup and during this week we listened to audio books, watched YouTube videos (pretty much all by Zak George!) and read various information/training books. This information definitely gave us a better understanding of what was to come and it kept us both on the same playing field on how we would look after Bernie. I mean, some people make it look really easy and glossy on Instagram & YouTube.. but I knew that wasn’t real life.
What lacked most in our week of “information download” was most definitely any actual experience of what a puppy is even like. We may have read, watched and listened to countless amounts of advice but they were all from very experienced & trained people.. some owning up to 9 dogs! I searched and searched for raw, real vlogs or blog posts by people like me – that had never owned a dog or even been around a dog for 24 hours before and I couldn’t find it. The longest time I have spent with a dog, as an adult, is when one is sitting next to me in a coffee shop (not even joking)
If this was a video, I’d be doing some sort of “waving cut aways” right now because.. HELLO THIS IS WHY I’M WRITING THIS! I’m going to be real about the whole puppy experience.. how I personally found it, things we have learnt along the way and what a puppy actually does for 24 hours..
The First Few Days…
The first few days are a bit of a blur.
I found these days the most exciting in terms of getting to know Bernie (with lots of cuddles!) but also the most challenging. Looking back now, I realise I just needed to take a few days to let it all sink in and I’d eventually get to know him and his routine. But at the time, I kind of expected this to just be instant and I felt frustrated that I didn’t feel like I had a bond with him. I mean, of course a bond is going to take time, but because I had been constantly looking at photos or thinking about him in the lead up to taking him home.. I had my bond but he obviously needed to get to know me too!
We were extremely lucky when it came to night time with Bernie, he literally settled straight away and didn’t make a peep. We picked him up a week after his brothers & sisters left for their forever homes, so I think he was used to being alone, he was also used to sleeping in a crate/pen. We were very prepared to have to move his den (we call the crate the den) into our room for a few nights so he wouldn’t cry but we didn’t need to do this. I appreciate that night time can be really tough for some people and their little crying pups, so we are so lucky in that department for sure.
However, Bernie cried whenever he needed to pee, obviously. Puppies don’t like to pee/poop in their den or bed, for obvious reasons! So I would get up, take him out, pop him back to bed and try my best to get back to sleep. But.. I was constantly waiting, worrying, watching for that next cry. As soon as I heard him, I would jump out of bed, panic filled, trying to find my glasses and my slippers, walking into the bed.. the list goes on. For the first few days I really enjoyed getting up in the night to take him out (probably because it wasn’t raining..) but then I got this weird night time anxiety. As soon as it turned dark outside, I’d feel really nervous and unsettled – even at 5pm! I’ve spoken to a few people about this and I’m not the only one – it’s a thing! I’m not sure what it is that caused this or why it crept up on me like that.. but if you’re suffering, don’t worry, it passes!
In terms of training, we would take him outside every 45 mins to an hour and wait for him to pee. Once he did, we had a pee party and made a huge fuss of him and gave him a treat (lots of info on this online, so I won’t go into it too much!) Of course, this doesn’t mean there weren’t accidents! We keep Bernie in our kitchen for now as it’s big and tiled, whilst the rest of our house has new carpet (!!!) But because the floor is cold, we put some rugs down and OF COURSE Bernie thought they were for him to pee on. Sure enough, they soon got washed and put away. I got really anxious about accidents.. but to be honest, it can be cleaned up and it WILL happen – whether you worry or not!
So, What’s it Like?!
Okay so a puppy demands TIME. When we got Bernie, my work was really busy and Chris had some weddings left to edit which can never be put on hold, obviously! It felt like really bad timing and I was super stressed. I would sit with Bernie all day, whilst Chris worked.. sometimes even having a shower was really tough and don’t even get me started on washing my hair! I felt like I was letting myself down when it came to my work but also a huge amount of pressure to get everything done, be present online and also just do life stuff.. we ran out of milk alot.
At the time my lovely Dad had been over for a few days installing a light outside in our garden (because holding a torch, a lead and poo bags at 4am was a little tricky!) and it really took someone on the outside to make me see some sense. He told us to just leave Bernie for a bit and pop down every now and then to take him outside. I was so worried he would pee on the floor that I wouldn’t leave him (not because of the pee as such, but more that I wanted to train him well!) BUT he would still have accidents if I was with him all day anyway and like I said, it can be cleaned! We have little webcams in the kitchen, so I nipped upstairs to do some filming, keeping an eye on the cameras and you know what? Bernie just played with his toys and fell asleep. He was fine and nothing awful happened! MIRACLE!
Of course, I wouldn’t leave Bernie all day right now BUT I do nip off upstairs to shower, to tidy, to work, to film and he is absolutely fine. He sleeps more now that I leave him and I don’t want him to be too dependant on me either, so it’s a win win. We have started leaving the actual house for 10 mins every now and then… and he just poo’s, but that’s a WHOLE other story. I do worry the entire time we are out of the house, but I hope that passes as he gets older.. please tell me it does?!
Day In The Life…
One thing I was never able to find out was what does a puppy actually DO all day?! Like I mentioned, I’ve never even spent 24 hours with a dog before so I had no idea what they do. Do they play all day? Sleep? Where do they sit? the list goes on. So, here is a little routine of what Bernie gets up to now that he has settled in… (bare in mind he’s not allowed on walks yet!)
7am – Wakes up, has a play, a bark (for us!) and probably goes back to sleep for a bit.
7.30am – Gets very excited to see us, which is the best part of my day 🙂
8am – Breakfast
Morning time – Plays for a bit, bites my feet, pees, poos and then sleeps off his breakfast
12pm – Dozes in and out of sleep
1pm – Lunchtime
Afternoon – Plays for a bit, bites my feet, pees, poos and then sleeps off his lunch
5pm – Wakes up full of energy, usually tries to bite the skirting boards/cupboard doors/my feet. Runs around like a crazy pup. I play with him until dinner time and try to wear him out a bit!
6pm – Dinner!
Early Evening – Plays for a bit, bites my feet, pees, poos and then sleeps
8/9pm onwards – Sleeps (moves around a bit!) Proper bedtime is whenever we go to bed!
Things were going great until Bernie got ill. The poor little guy developed an upset tummy and we’re still not sure why or how! We took him for his first vaccinations, explained the issue and were given some probiotics for his tummy (didn’t help) He then developed a weird reaction to the vaccination and was yelping in pain whenever we picked him up. Unfortunately, we had to work that evening so my parents were due to come and watch Bernie for a few hours.. they ended up taking him to the vets. This vet experience was NOT good, if you follow me on Instagram you’ll probably remember this story so I won’t go into too much detail. Basically Bernie was given a very strong painkiller (and shouted at by a nurse whilst yelping in pain…) and it had to be the worst evening ever.
Bernie was absolutely out of it. He was crying in pain, disorientated and so many more things that we won’t go into (incase you’re eating!) We just stood over him, unsure of what to do and I cried ALOT. We ended up in the emergency vets and then again 2 times after to try and get him sorted.
This was really tough. I felt really weird the next day and I think the shock of him being unwell made me question if I could actually do this. I felt like we had made a mistake and I’ll be honest.. I wanted to give him back (feel so bad saying this now!) Looking back, I just felt scared at how fast he deteriorated and how upset I felt about it. Also, being sleep deprived didn’t help (it never does!) Having a puppy is HARD (harder than you see on instagram or YouTube where everything looks peachy and glossy) but having a really poorly puppy and some really bad vet experiences is even tougher. I felt totally out of control and worried about what we should do to make him better.
Anyway, a long story cut short.. he had an infection and after many (awful) vets appointments at a local branch, we found a great vets down the road who listened to our concerns and helped Bernie so much. He had some medication and within a day or so was much more himself. We have decided not to take him outside AT ALL unless we are carrying him. We live next to the woods and although we were told by one vet that the garden would be safe for him, another told us that if foxes could have been in it, not to risk it. With him already being so ill we wanted to make sure he was protected inside until he has had all his jabs. So at the moment we have puppy pads down and he is so good at using those.
Also, because he was really ill (at one point he was peeing every 10 minutes) we have fallen off the crate training train and instead at night time put up a little gate, lots of pads and his open den. He’s actually really good and only gets up once, but I’m not sure if he will ever go in the den with the door closed again, but we’ll see! It’s really hard making decisions for Bernie and I always worry they’re wrong, or will impact him as a dog. I constantly have to remind myself that it’s way more important that he’s happy and knows he is loved.. this will always equal a lovely dog!
4 Weeks Later
It’s been 4 weeks since we brought Bernie home and it has been tough. It’s been a shock to the system, it’s been weird having a little guy to look after, clean up, care for, think about. It’s been an odd feeling of loss of freedom, having to make sure we have my parents over to watch him if we have to go out and work for the day. It’s been different showering with the camera on, getting work done when he’s napping, having to tire him out, cook with him biting my toes. It’s been hard being trolled for getting a puppy (yes, really) and being called ‘vile’ for not adopting instead. I don’t feel I should have to justify why we got a puppy but adoption doesn’t work for everyone and that’s fine.
BUT.. it’s also been the most amazing experience ever. It’s been so special to see his little face and waggy tail every morning (honestly, it’s like he hasn’t seen us for days) It’s been the best to give him cuddles when he’s sleepy, teach him to sit and feel so proud when he does it, watch him running around like a lunatic, see him curled up on a blanket barking in his sleep. It’s been the most magical feeling to know I’m needed and the responsibility is something I really, really enjoy now I’m used to it. I can’t wait to take him for walks, to teach him more, have him sit at my feet when I’m working, to love him and make sure he knows how loved he is. He has changed our home completely – it feels alive! (And Vincey loves him, so far!)
If you’re reading this and you’re on week one feeling confused if you have done the right thing (been there) just keep going. I’ve been told so many times that by week 4 it all becomes easier and it really does. I could not imagine life without him now and the joy he gives me is better than anything else I’ve experienced (of course, apart from getting married and all that!) Sure, it’s testing and tiring.. but it’s worth it, 100%!
One tip I have for you though.. GET A PUPPY IN SUMMER! (4am is colder than any freezer I’ve ever opened…)
To be continued…
Watch the Vlog!