Get a puppy and your life will never be the same again – but not always in the ways you'd imagine. Country Life's Annunciata Elwes recently took the plunge, and shares what she wishes she'd known.
You need to just do it
I’ve wanted a dog for years – I can’t believe I waited so long. There was always a reason why it wasn’t quite convenient but we finally realised that here is no such thing as the perfect time. He is the loveliest little creature, worth any hassle.
You’ll have to do a lot of talking to strangers
We’ve had our little puppy for less than three months, during which time, I have had more conversations with total strangers than in a decade of living in London.
The folk of this city will ignore you if you walk into a lamppost and stagger down the road bleeding – as I found out last year, and a week before my wedding (not that passers-by knew it). But pop to the shops with a puppy in tow and you’ll make friends for life.
You’ll feel like a VIP – or at least a VIP’s keeper
Within just a day at the Country Life HQ, my little pug won the devotion of the entire editorial team, plus a Jack Russell, a Border terrier and a dachshund, with tiny, playful paws and irritating persistence. Big, burly men coo over him on the bus and the kindly staff at my local Waitrose, where dogs are strictly not allowed, wave me through like a young Royal into Boujis.
You’ll believe your dog is the best dog in the world and everyone else’s is rubbish
This is the sort of thought that one is tempted to indulge. Let common sense prevail. He’s a soft, squiggly piece of dreadfulness. My unswerving devotion to him doesn’t make him any less dreadful.
Prepare to be irritated
I enjoy talking to fellow dog owners in the park, but loud people (usually young women) who come towards my puppy squealing and waving their arms about, like they’re doing the Macarena on a hornet’s nest, are not welcome. It is rude to stroke, hug, kiss, lick, feed, pick up or sing to another person’s dog without acknowledging the owner.
You can kiss goodbye to looking smart
As a person who avoids ironing boards like the plague, I only ever had a slim chance at looking presentable. With a puppy in tow, I have said goodbye to unladdered tights, intact buttons, anything with bits/frills and anything that can’t be hurled into a washing machine as soon as it’s got muddy pawprints on it.
I wear jeans and jumpers now. Dangly earrings are a no. I’m basically unrecognisable, but I’ll be back…
You’ll need a credit card
It’s a good thing I love red, because I’ve been in it for a while. Those initial purchases you have to make when you first get a dog, though individually small, do add up. Crate for home, crate for work, bigger crate for when you realise the first is too small, harness, bigger harness, toys, chews, good-quality food, lead, spare lead for when you lose one in the lining of your coat, training lead, treats, carrier, bigger carrier, bed, blankets…
Get used to losing your freedom
‘I can’t, I’ve got to feed the dog.’ ‘Well, I’ll have to go home first…’ ‘How about we go for a walk instead?’ ‘Is that restaurant dog friendly?’ As he gets older, it’s getting easier, thankfully.
There’s no room for squeamish behaviour
No explanation necessary.
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