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I am a dog person now

I am a dog person now

Here's a life tip: Never go to 'just look' at puppies with your children in tow.
Four months ago, I did just that. As a family, we have been toying with the idea of getting another dog with my teenager being the driving force behind the petition.
It's been six years since we last had a pooch in the house, so we spent some time researching breeds. We considered the Shih Tzu (but no-one could say it out loud without sniggering); the perennially popular Cockapoo (but discovered puppies were out of our price range) and the Lhasa Apso (cute but too fluffy).
While scrolling through online ads of puppies for sale within a 10-mile radius of the city, my eagle-eyed daughter spotted what turned out to be 'the one'. She waved her phone under my nose: "Look at him, Mummy. Look at him!"
Staring back at me was a black and white, long-eared, doe-eyed spaniel-type puppy.
"He's cute," I said and carried on with what I was doing.
The spaniel was probably the fifteenth dog she had brought to my attention in as many minutes. I had said 'no' to them all and meant it, too.
After a week of pestering and with countless promises of: "I'll walk it, I'll scoop the poop, I'll do EVERYTHING" from my eldest child (and like a fool, I believed her, too), Mr C and I sat down for serious 'dog chat' to weigh up the pros and cons of getting a dog. We decided to go and 'look' at the floppy-eared puppy.
So, it was that Milo the Springalier (Springer/Cavalier) came into our lives.
The first couple of weeks were hard. Having been a puppy 'parent' before, I was prepared for the nights of broken sleep - I'm not sure the rest of my family were.
I found it helpful to establish a bedtime routine for our pup - and I have made good strides in as much as Milo now sleeps through from 11pm until around 8am (on a good day).
But I had to put in the graft to establish that routine. I was often up late and then awake for the dawn chorus, standing outside wearing my wellies and pyjamas, saying 'wee-wees, Milo, wee-wees' in a loud whisper so as not to wake the neighbours.
At first, the 5am starts were something of a rude awakening. I was so tired I couldn't see properly or form coherent sentences.
But it's amazing what can be achieved when you get up so much earlier. Most mornings, I'd manage to put in a couple of loads of washing, bake some banana bread or clean the windows before anyone else in the house even stirred.
As productive as I was around the home during those first few weeks with our new puppy, I am thankful he now sleeps through until a more civilised hour, even if it means there's no warm banana bread for breakfast. But I have noticed other positive side effects.
I am more sociable.
Now I am a dog person, I talk to other dog people about their dogs.
I know half the canines in my neighbourhood by name because their owners have introduced them to me: "This is Rocky. He's three, loves to play ball, sleeps on our bed, can't eat gluten without getting an upset tummy but loves Mattesons chicken Fridge Raiders. He hates riding in the car unless the window's down and he's had his bits off because he used to get frisky with the cat..."
I have no idea what Rocky's owner is called. I have learned it's not de rigeur to introduce yourself during these conversations.
I have also smashed the daily target of the step counter on my phone. Despite my daughter being adamant she would walk Milo at least once a day, the comfort of her bed and the new season of Queer Eye on Netflix clearly has a stronger pull than Milo's puppy-dog 'walk me' eyes.
So, I usually end up taking him out.
Which is fine, because I secretly enjoy a ramble by the riverbank on a sunny evening. Having a four-legged friend, who I imagine will ALWAYS be up for a walk is just one of the bonuses of being a dog-owner.
And a long walk is often a great way to gain some headspace, especially as there is so much to do and think about when you become a puppy parent.
My head (and calendar) is full of important dates: when to worm him, when to take him to the vets for his six-month check-up, when to re-order the 10kg bag of puppy kibble that now takes up an entire cupboard, when to start puppy training...
The parallels between the early days, weeks and months of raising a puppy and a human baby have become apparent.
They cry at night, then start to sleep through. They learn not to bite (dogs AND babies). They grow at an exponential rate. They must be protected from hazards in the home and need to be toilet trained. Crucially, they must learn to do as they are asked if they want to please their 'parents' (in my experience, dogs realise the benefits of this much quicker than children).
Milo has worked out when his new pack sleeps, who is the top dog (me, naturally), who is the feeder (my eldest child loves to tap his bowl and watch him come running), who is his playmate (my six-year-old is the only person who can match his energy levels) and who is the best person to chill out with (that'll be Mr C).
This pooch is intelligent, surprisingly well-behaved (for now - I know the teenage years await), adorably cute, never answers back and is always pleased to see me.
At this rate, the dog is probably going to end up being my favourite 'child'.



PANEL
Puppy buying advice
If you are thinking of getting a dog, there are lots of tips for buyers on the Dogs Trust about how to go about it responsibly. If you can, rehoming a rescue dog is also a rewarding option.
Here are the key things to consider.
1. Consider which breed would best suit your lifestyle, the financial costs of dog ownership, who will care for your dog if you go to work or have holidays booked and training classes.
2. Never meet anywhere that isn't the puppy's home. Be sure to see your puppy interacting with their mum and littermates.
3. Puppies must be at least eight weeks old to leave their mum, who should be at least one years old. It is against the law to breed a bitch more than six times in her lifetime.
4. All puppies have worms at birth. Worming should start with the breeder at about two weeks old, be repeated every two weeks and be continued by you.
5. Puppies should be vaccinated at 6-9 weeks of age and then again at 10-12weeks. They will become fully protected two weeks after the second vaccination. You will need to do this if the breeder has not.
6. If the puppy is unwell, collect him another day. If he’s still ill then do not take him and try another breeder.
7. A good breeder will give you enough food to continue exactly the same diet for a couple of days. They should also give you a diet sheet that shows how feeding should change as your puppy grows.
8. Puppies should preferably be raised in a home environment with all the noise and through-traffic of a normal home. Those raised in kennels away from the house will need more intensive socialisation training to ensure they can cope with daily life as a pet.
9. You should take your new puppy to a vet for a health check within 48 hours. A good breeder will offer to take the puppy back at any point should you be unable to keep him.
10. It is a legal requirement for all breeders of puppies to microchip and register their own details prior to sale.
Visit www.dogstrust.org.uk for more information.

Here's a life tip: Never go to 'just look' at puppies with your children in tow.
Four months ago, I did just that. As a family, we have been toying with the idea of getting another dog with my teenager being the driving force behind the petition.
It's been six years since we last had a pooch in the house, so we spent some time researching breeds. We considered the Shih Tzu (but no-one could say it out loud without sniggering); the perennially popular Cockapoo (but discovered puppies were out of our price range) and the Lhasa Apso (cute but too fluffy).
While scrolling through online ads of puppies for sale within a 10-mile radius of the city, my eagle-eyed daughter spotted what turned out to be 'the one'. She waved her phone under my nose: "Look at him, Mummy. Look at him!"
Staring back at me was a black and white, long-eared, doe-eyed spaniel-type puppy.
"He's cute," I said and carried on with what I was doing.
The spaniel was probably the fifteenth dog she had brought to my attention in as many minutes. I had said 'no' to them all and meant it, too.
After a week of pestering and with countless promises of: "I'll walk it, I'll scoop the poop, I'll do EVERYTHING" from my eldest child (and like a fool, I believed her, too), Mr C and I sat down for serious 'dog chat' to weigh up the pros and cons of getting a dog. We decided to go and 'look' at the floppy-eared puppy.
So, it was that Milo the Springalier (Springer/Cavalier) came into our lives.
The first couple of weeks were hard. Having been a puppy 'parent' before, I was prepared for the nights of broken sleep - I'm not sure the rest of my family were.
I found it helpful to establish a bedtime routine for our pup - and I have made good strides in as much as Milo now sleeps through from 11pm until around 8am (on a good day).
But I had to put in the graft to establish that routine. I was often up late and then awake for the dawn chorus, standing outside wearing my wellies and pyjamas, saying 'wee-wees, Milo, wee-wees' in a loud whisper so as not to wake the neighbours.
At first, the 5am starts were something of a rude awakening. I was so tired I couldn't see properly or form coherent sentences.
But it's amazing what can be achieved when you get up so much earlier. Most mornings, I'd manage to put in a couple of loads of washing, bake some banana bread or clean the windows before anyone else in the house even stirred.
As productive as I was around the home during those first few weeks with our new puppy, I am thankful he now sleeps through until a more civilised hour, even if it means there's no warm banana bread for breakfast. But I have noticed other positive side effects.
I am more sociable.
Now I am a dog person, I talk to other dog people about their dogs.
I know half the canines in my neighbourhood by name because their owners have introduced them to me: "This is Rocky. He's three, loves to play ball, sleeps on our bed, can't eat gluten without getting an upset tummy but loves Mattesons chicken Fridge Raiders. He hates riding in the car unless the window's down and he's had his bits off because he used to get frisky with the cat..."
I have no idea what Rocky's owner is called. I have learned it's not de rigeur to introduce yourself during these conversations.
I have also smashed the daily target of the step counter on my phone. Despite my daughter being adamant she would walk Milo at least once a day, the comfort of her bed and the new season of Queer Eye on Netflix clearly has a stronger pull than Milo's puppy-dog 'walk me' eyes.
So, I usually end up taking him out.
Which is fine, because I secretly enjoy a ramble by the riverbank on a sunny evening. Having a four-legged friend, who I imagine will ALWAYS be up for a walk is just one of the bonuses of being a dog-owner.
And a long walk is often a great way to gain some headspace, especially as there is so much to do and think about when you become a puppy parent.
My head (and calendar) is full of important dates: when to worm him, when to take him to the vets for his six-month check-up, when to re-order the 10kg bag of puppy kibble that now takes up an entire cupboard, when to start puppy training...
The parallels between the early days, weeks and months of raising a puppy and a human baby have become apparent.
They cry at night, then start to sleep through. They learn not to bite (dogs AND babies). They grow at an exponential rate. They must be protected from hazards in the home and need to be toilet trained. Crucially, they must learn to do as they are asked if they want to please their 'parents' (in my experience, dogs realise the benefits of this much quicker than children).
Milo has worked out when his new pack sleeps, who is the top dog (me, naturally), who is the feeder (my eldest child loves to tap his bowl and watch him come running), who is his playmate (my six-year-old is the only person who can match his energy levels) and who is the best person to chill out with (that'll be Mr C).
This pooch is intelligent, surprisingly well-behaved (for now - I know the teenage years await), adorably cute, never answers back and is always pleased to see me.
At this rate, the dog is probably going to end up being my favourite 'child'.


PANEL
Puppy buying advice
If you are thinking of getting a dog, there are lots of tips for buyers on the Dogs Trust about how to go about it responsibly. If you can, rehoming a rescue dog is also a rewarding option.
Here are the key things to consider.
1. Consider which breed would best suit your lifestyle, the financial costs of dog ownership, who will care for your dog if you go to work or have holidays booked and training classes.
2. Never meet anywhere that isn't the puppy's home. Be sure to see your puppy interacting with their mum and littermates.
3. Puppies must be at least eight weeks old to leave their mum, who should be at least one years old. It is against the law to breed a bitch more than six times in her lifetime.
4. All puppies have worms at birth. Worming should start with the breeder at about two weeks old, be repeated every two weeks and be continued by you.
5. Puppies should be vaccinated at 6-9 weeks of age and then again at 10-12weeks. They will become fully protected two weeks after the second vaccination. You will need to do this if the breeder has not.
6. If the puppy is unwell, collect him another day. If he’s still ill then do not take him and try another breeder.
7. A good breeder will give you enough food to continue exactly the same diet for a couple of days. They should also give you a diet sheet that shows how feeding should change as your puppy grows.
8. Puppies should preferably be raised in a home environment with all the noise and through-traffic of a normal home. Those raised in kennels away from the house will need more intensive socialisation training to ensure they can cope with daily life as a pet.
9. You should take your new puppy to a vet for a health check within 48 hours. A good breeder will offer to take the puppy back at any point should you be unable to keep him.
10. It is a legal requirement for all breeders of puppies to microchip and register their own details prior to sale.
Visit www.dogstrust.org.uk for more information.

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Proud to be at the heart of our community...

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‘Believe together, achieve together’