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Lessons from having a pet dog

should I get a pet dog? Bonnie Prince Charlie

I go to a book club with my neighbours and the last novel we discussed was Lessons in Chemistry.  A dog called Six – Thirty features quite heavily so I was asked what having a dog has taught me.  I do enjoy having a moan about this little animal who reminds me a bit of a newborn.  We called him Prince as we already have a Bonnie and a Charlie.  He follows me everywhere.  He is a cheeky wee monkey and he loves winding me up.  Last week I was reminding the kids that I am actually terrified of dogs, after I was in the woods and this massive dog approached me and started growling and barking at Prince.  Deep breaths were needed.  I actually s%%$t myself.  Charlie replied:

‘Mum, then why on earth do we have a dog?!’

My first thought was – good point, I have no idea.  I must be mad.  In fact, I think I was when we got him.

Instead I said:

‘Because we knew how happy it would make you guys’.

He smiled and in his cute little voice said:

‘Strong Motherhood’.

I wanted to eat him. But yes, I am facing my mega fears and taking one for the team.  This little dog has put me out of my comfort zone but he gives the kids so much joy.  I wanted one so much as a kid but can totally understand now why my folks said no.  It is hard work and a massive tie.  But I love watching them together, it really does melt my heart.  They utterly adore him.  Bonnie Prince Charlie are tight.  Charlie calls Prince his little brother and he often treats him like one.  I love watching them care for him, brushing his hair, brushing his teeth, feeding/watering him and giving all the hugs.  Unfortunately the dog walks are not quite so exciting for them.  But on a plus, for me, it’s made getting over 10K steps in each day very easy.

should I get a pet dog? Bonnie Prince Charlie

should I get a pet dog? Bonnie Prince Charlie

So what has having a dog taught me?

I have been reminded of the importance of play and not taking life so seriously.  Thankfully Prince hasn’t been chewing the sofa or ripping clothes but he does love grabbing socks, slippers and shoes and running away, hoping to be chased.  He loves it and it is pretty cute watching him ducking and diving under tables as I try and get the socks out of his mouth.  Reminder number 1 – have fun every day.  Make time to play.

Pet dogs = working cocker

He gets so excited when he meets new people.  He also shows so much passion and love when I get home or come downstairs.  Reminder number 2 – appreciate the people you have, show them love and give great hugs.  Greet people with a smile and your best energy when you can.

should I get a pet dog? Bonnie Prince Charlie

He loves his food so much and enjoys each meal like it is his last.  It is a highlight of his day and he gets so excited when he knows it is meal time.  You need to keep an eye on him though or he may just jump up and steal whatever he can get his paws on.  This is a mega no from me.  Although it was so funny when I came through from our karaoke room on Christmas day to find him with the entire turkey on the floor.  Thankfully most of it was eaten but I was hoping to get a decent fresh stock out of it.  Reminder number 3 – Be so thankful for every meal and to those who took time to make it, shop for it, serve it.

Prince is working on his boundaries.  He reminds me a little of the spell of mania.  He wants to jump on people and show them how excited he is and how much love he has to give.  He is buzzing and fired up and can’t sit still.  He just wants to express everything and play but sometimes he doesn’t know when to stop.  He doesn’t know who he may scare with such full on energy.  His intentions are always good but he is learning that sometimes he needs to tone it down.  Lots of people love dogs and adore his energy and lack of boundaries.  Some find it way too much.  Some really dislike dogs or are afraid.  It’s the same with other dogs he meets.  Some love it and are desperate to play, others want to snap and bark at his face or they growl in disgust.  I have noticed he has become much more submissive and gentle around other dogs.  He is learning to play it cool even with a crazy wagging tail which shows his excitement.  Reminder number 4 – boundaries are important, everyone is different and we need to respect that.  However, don’t let that dull your spark or your energy.

Dogs need exercise every day.  It is important for their health.  Prince loves walking and running and exploring.  He gets so excited when he knows it’s time to get out.  He brings me his lead when he is really keen or will bark if I am taking too long to get ready.  Reminder number 5 – we all need to get outside and move.  It is a treat to be able to do this.

Prince doesn’t care about the weather or the time of day.  He still gets excited.  I have seen so many amazing stars I would have missed.  I love looking up at the moon and I take the time to do this each day.  I know I will miss this in the Summer but at the same time I have some amazing sunsets to look forward to.  Reminder number 6 – appreciate the seasons, the night sky and the magic you may forget about.   Magic is all around us if we take time to look.

Dogs love a good hug and lots of affection.  I’m all here for that.  Remider number 7 – don’t be a stingy hugger.  Hugging is so good for us.

He reminds me that things are often not personal, especially when he pushes me far.  Like the other day.  I was out hill walking with the kids, my Sister in Law and nephew.  All was going well, we got to the top of a steep hill.  The kids were enjoying playing hide and seek and jumping on the tree swings.  I decided to keep Prince on his lead just for ease as he is a super fast runner and likes to go on an adventure.  My hand was pretty red raw from all his pulling.  We started walking again and eventually started to head back down the hill.  Bonnie had the lead, but Prince was pulling so hard that it was starting to hurt. So I started walking towards Bonnie to take the lead off her.  At this point he started to pull harder and Bonnie went flying into me, we both took a massive fall into a huge pile of mud.  Prince ran off totally oblibious.  My Sister in Law managed to catch him, I have no idea how as he is so fast.  It was a funny sight, Bonnie and I were caked in mud.  When we got home, my leg was totally swallon and bruised and I was seriously pissed off.  But Prince had no idea.  All he wanted was to run down the hill to catch Charlie and Joe.  He had no idea about the fall or the mega pain my leg was in.  The only thing on his mind was play.  I have to remember he is a young dog.  Yes, they can respond well to training but not always. It makes me think of those who lack capacity due to mental health reasons.  I have laboured this point pretty strongly for a decade.  But it’s true.  It is natural to be really annoyed, frustrated or upset with those who hurt us physically or emotionally.  But we have to remember that their mind is broken and they have no idea they are hurting you or themselves.

Bonnie recently won a prize for her writing in school.  I will share a wee poem she wrote about Prince.

Ode to Prince

Oh I love ma wee bonnie dug, he fills me with joy as he lies on his rug.

Oh he’s so braw as he sleeps, on his wee belly without any peeps.

He’s always starvin, eating everything, sometimes he’ll come back wi something mingin.

Oh he’s a dirty wee dug, when he’s back from his walk he’s got muck on the rug.

Oh there’s not enough words to describe ma dug, oh even when he gives his toy a wee tug.

When a have ma tea, he tries to get a sip from ma mug.

Even if the wind scared him, he’s ma wee dug.

Cute. I love it Bonnie x

Are you tempted to get a dog now?  Have I put you off?  I can’t actually believe I own a dog, it still seems pretty crazy.  It can feel like a 3rd child.  I feel like I am constantly cleaning muddy paws, wiping the sofas down and the flooring.  Not to mention all the scented candles, incense, room diffusers needed.  But I was glad I was asked the question at book club as it made me focus on all the positives.  Dogs require a lot of effort but the rewards are pretty special.





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