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Despite not being a dog lover, I became mom to a puppy who stole my heart, and I became a doting pet parent at the age of 50+.
Yes, having a third baby at 50+ was the best thing I’ve ever done! For some people, all it takes is one pup to change their minds, and often, those who are not ‘dog persons’, are the very people who become the biggest doggie devotees!
I am one of them. Yes, dogs weren’t on my ‘radar’ for so long. That is until my daughter got one. She is an ardent dog person and loves every dog that walks by. Every pup is a cute doggie to her. Though she has been after us to get a dog since ages, we did not get a pup then. First of all I wasn’t a dog person, and secondly I lacked the confidence of taking the additional responsibility of a third baby.
But, finally I gave in when she was capable of taking care of one.
That’s when, “Bebo” a twenty days old female labrador entered our lives. The family fell in love with the little puppy at once and now we can’t imagine life without her.
Yes, she is my third baby at 50+! She is my child. She opened her eyes and helped me overcome an irrational fear. Bebo confirmed that big or little, fluffy or sleek, love and admiration for these creatures is definitely in my soul. I have evolved from not being a dog person to a dog lover in a lovely way. She is on my lap, on my car seat, on my bed, on my sofa, at my kitchen door waiting for food, she is everywhere, an important and adorable member of our family.
Raising a puppy is just like raising a human child. Though my girls were of great help in raising my third baby, I knew, I had to learn how to do everything and I was the one who had to teach my puppy how to do it. Although, it meant a lot of work, I knew it would all be worth it in the end because we would have a trained, balanced and a adorable companion for plenty of wonderful experiences and adventures.
First and the foremost, we headed to the vet for a thorough examination. He gave us the information on her nutritional needs, specific instructions on proper vaccinations and de-worming. I was glad when the vet said that my pup was a healthy one.
Establishing a daily schedule for her was essential to have a well balanced dog. Puppyhood isn’t something that lasts just a few weeks. Dogs don’t become adults until sometime between 1 and 2 years of age. First few weeks were trying times for us, as a puppy needs to relieve itself nearly ten times in a day. We also sought the help of a trainer to teach her basic commands. Obedience training and walking on a leash were the most important ones. She also counselled us about the behavioural aspects of my baby.
After her first round of vaccinations, we could take her for walks twice a day. Potty-training was easier, but pee-training was much difficult. I recall how pee-training remained our “Everest” and how we conquered it. I had to constantly update myself about her feed. When to feed her? How many times a day? What should she be eating? Which fruits and vegetables could be fatal to her? How to deal with the ticks and fleas in her fur, if at all she gets them due to socialising with other dogs?
Overexcitement lies at the heart of all kinds of common puppy problems.
My overexcited puppy many a time would snap at my fingers, snarl and tug at clothes until they ripped! She would jump and snap at our arms and legs! She would spin about nipping and growling as we put our hand down to restrain her! A total loveable overexcited brat! Initially, at times, not used to such overexcitement of a puppy, I had random emotional breakdowns, but, the moment my baby would snuggle in my lap, I would stare at her and think, “How could anyone not love you?” And then I would break down for completely different reasons!
The period between 3and 6 months was just as an “elementary school age”. The best phase, though it was a difficult one, was teething and related chewing. As she had begun to teethe, she naturally needed things to chew on. In addition to mouthing people (during her teething period), she would also mouth things in her environment, that included wooden table, chairs, doors and almost all the furniture. We had to puppy-proof our home, had to provide an assortment of interesting and safe chew toys. We had to teach her to inhibit the bite while chewing. We had to teach her that her mouth on human skin was not okay at all.
I haven’t lived with a pup earlier, but, my dog lover daughter was of immense help while raising our pup during the first six months.
During her adolescence between 6 to 18 months, my furry baby started developing her tantrums. But, then, I knew my baby so well that I could handle them successfully. With the help of our veterinary surgeon, we could deal with her first heat cycle. He also advised us on the right age for spaying and neutering.
Some of us think that a puppy is an adorable tiny dog, stumbling around as it explores the world, but, a dog is a big responsibility and it means being able to commit a significant amount of time, energy and money. Nevertheless, its her presence that has changed everything for better, I relearn that over and over again. She is the stress buster for all of us. She doesn’t just fills our heart, she has actually made our heart stronger.
Dogs have positive effects on one’s health. Just the act of petting lowers heart rate and blood pressure. No wonder there are therapy dogs, who are brought to the International airport, that help passengers feel relaxed and de-stressed before they fly, especially the children who tend to get anxious or cranky at airports. We also see therapy dogs who are trained to provide affection, comfort and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes and even in schools.
I consider myself as pet parent and not pet owner. I talk to her. My baby has learnt social skills just like our human kids learn. I remember the first time I heard my furry cry, I was hooked. “Has the world ever known a more beautiful whimper?”
Sometimes, even an expensive mattress doesn’t please her, I end up just letting her sleep next to me which soon turns into her letting me sleep next to her on my bed.
Every pet parent will agree that there’s nothing like a warm welcome from your pooch when he/she gets home. The way my baby treats us when she sees any member of my family when they are back home is simply overwhelmingly impressive. The moment the person is in, she jumps and starts kissing with her tail wagging out of control!
The exceptional connection which she has developed with us is unparalleled. She can pick up vibes; she is able to understand it when anyone of us is upset. She has a way to please and make us happy.
We document each milestone, be it her first birthday or her first vacation. Good Lord, how I love my third baby! 100 times a day, I kiss her snout, I sniff and kiss her paws, I rub the boogers off her eyes, I do belly rubbing and I love the tactile feeling of her. And she loves us back.
We see more and more families are adopting dogs as pets. So, when you choose to get a dog, you must choose to become a responsible dog owner. Many times dogs are brought as the child in a family loves it. Children and pets can be an adorable combination, but pets are not toys for children. It is a living creature, as I said, a big responsibility.
Unfortunately, not all dog owners act responsibly; they abandon their dogs when they become inconvenient or have a chronic illness. This is tragic and not acceptable. Dog ownership is not something to be taken lightly, bringing both pleasure and responsibility in equal measures.
“Adopt, don’t shop! these lovely babies who love us unconditionally as much as we love them!
As for me, each member of my family has lovingly shared her responsibility as one team. My house has become my ‘Home’ all the more since I have added one set of four legs, a happy tail and that indescribable measure of love that we call as my third baby.
At 50+, I am still spoiling, cuddling, primping and using baby talk. It’s just directed at my furrier baby! My pooch has helped me to rediscover the ‘reserves of energy and patience’, I didn’t know I still had, to raise a third baby at 50+!
It reminds me of a quote by Johnny Depp, “The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”
Published here earlier.
Images credit: the author
Header image source: publicdomainpictures.net
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