"Are you going to take it on walks? Are you going to have time for it? Can you afford it?" There were a lot of things my friends warned me about before I adopted the painfully adorable dog above (my mom also shared many of her concerns). But even with my friends' advice and nearly a decade of pet sitting experience under my belt, I was surprised by a few unexpected things after bringing Stanley home from the LA-SPCA.
You'll worry if you dog-proofed your home enough
I checked plant toxicity possibilities, I made sure the trash can was secure. I got the cat food and litter box out of the way. I made sure he had a comfortable, secure place to retreat to. And I stocked up on all-natural rug cleaning supplies just in case. But despite all the things I did around my apartment to prepare for my rescue dog's arrival, leaving my house (with him in it) for the first time took waaaaaay longer than I expected.
Would he get into my stacks of books and choke on torn-out pages? Would he slurp up the yarn balls on my desk from an ongoing craft project? Would he gnaw on a shoe and choke on a shoelace? Would he knock this light side table onto himself? Get caught between the sofa and the doorway?
All of a sudden, every single object in my home seemed like a possible death trap, and I found myself moving anything not bolted down out of his reach. Of course, I'm sure many of these fears are unfounded, and I'm happy to report he's done zero damage to a single item in the whole place so far. But it'll remain an exercise in fatal imagination until I get to know his left-alone behavior.
You might be startled (and your sleep might suffer slightly)
As some readers may know, I have a cat. Though Angus lounges most of the day away, he of course gets up to explore and do his business several times during the day (and night). I've been used to having a roaming animal in my home for years and years is what I'm saying. So I was really surprised how startled I've been the last few nights! Stanley has heretofore been perfect — no whining at night, no barking at sounds — none of the usual reasons why someone might be woken up by an animal.
But I've been waking up to him...sneezing, getting up to drink water, and trying to settle himself into a comfy position. My cat is an elegant shadow, moving unnoticed. But Stanley is a tiny furry bull in a China shop, snorffing and scuffling around things, lapping up water loudly and jangling his collar tags at all hours. They are all new noises to get used to, and I'm confident I will. But be aware that even if you don't have a puppy and your new dog is not a whiner, you still may find yourself startled awake for the first few days!
You may be hyper aware of every sound, sneeze, sniffle and scratch when you're awake, too
Well, if you're already an anxious person like I am. While I've seen and heard all manner of animal movements and sounds over the years dog sitting for friends (and have long since been able to distinguish between normal behavior and take-them-to-the-vet behavior), I've been a bit of a helicopter parent with Stanley. I find myself checking him out any time he does anything to make sure he's okay. Is he breathing too loud? Is he drinking too fast? Is he comfortable in the sleeping position? Hopefully once I've lived with him longer and understand his routine I won't feel the need to hover quite so much. Stanley loves attention, but I think the fuss is a bit much.
You'll probably share TMI All the Time
Every human I meet is a possible outlet for my boasts of pet parent pride or in-depth information about my dog's possible skin allergies. Coworkers ask how he's doing, and I launch into extremely detailed accounts of his current diet and treat regimen. I'm sure I'll chill after the "newness" of being a dog mom wears off, but for now, apologies to everyone for having to listen to me talk about how impressed I am with his regular pooping schedule.
What things were a surprise to you after bringing your pet home for the first time? Share in the comments below!
(Also compliments on how amazingly cute Stanley is are of course encouraged.)