by Barry KuKes
Who doesn’t love a little puppy? That cute little face and Buddha belly. The way they walk like they are drunk and fall smiling as they roll around on the floor. How they torment the older dog in the house because all they want to do is play, play, play until suddenly they are exhausted and fall fast asleep snuggled up to their older new sibling. Wait, we can’t forget about the cat in the house. The puppy will attempt to play with the cat, but she will hiss and swipe her paw, causing the puppy to retreat and head for safety with the older dog. Eventually, the cat and puppy will come to terms, but the relationship will usually be one of roommates versus siblings.
About seventeen years ago, my household was as I just described. I had an older Black Lab, a large cat, and a puppy just 6-weeks old that I needed to pick up from a rescue early because they were evacuating due to Hurricane Charley. Of course, back then, my wife and I were seventeen years younger, so dealing with the exuberating behavior of a puppy was much easier, but a challenge, nonetheless.
Now, in our mid-sixties, we recognize that as much as we love puppies, we could not properly care for a puppy due to our careers, lack of time, and at times, lack of energy.
Puppies, like toddlers, keep you going whether you like it or not. However, this is just us. Many people our age and older embrace the arrival of a new pup, which is great as long as they realize what they are getting themselves into. Unlike an older dog, a puppy has a tiny bladder and needs to go outside frequently to do its business. Puppies do not understand the phrase, “It’s 2 a.m. Can’t you wait a few hours?” Hey, when they gotta go, they gotta go. You are either getting up at 2 a.m., or they are peeing in your slipper. This is totally up to you, not the puppy.
We rescued the Black Lab I mentioned earlier when he was just 12-weeks old. He was the most destructive puppy I have ever had in my life. He would chew on everything, have accidents in the house, eat through walls, and more. Then when he turned two, it was as if a light switch was flicked on, and he was the perfect dog.
The moral of this story is simple. If you consider getting a puppy, make sure you are ready to make a lifelong (the entire life of the puppy) commitment. Don’t get a puppy, and a month later, give up and turn the pup into a shelter. Puppies need you to help them learn what is expected. They want to please you so much, so don’t hit them or push their face in poop when they have an accident in the house. You need to invest a great deal of time into training your puppy to co-exist with you in your home. Once this is accomplished, you can start training the now young dog behaviors like sit, stay, heel, down, and more.
A pet can be an awesome lifelong friend and companion if you take the time to let them learn, love, and live in a loving forever home. Unlike humans who may divorce or leave home due to an unbearable situation, a pet seldom turns its back on its owner. They live to please and try very hard to do just that, so let them. Lastly, whether you desire a puppy, a kitten, a cat, a dog, or a rabbit for that matter, please, adopt, don’t shop.
Barry KuKes is the Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society. You can reach Barry at 386. 274.4703, ext. 320, or BarryK@halifax humanesociety.org