I wanted to own a dog and care for it all by myself, I just didn't expect it to happen so soon, and rather urgently. My friend contacted me and offered a cute mixed-breed pup; the result of an affair between his Australian Shepherd and a neighbor's mixed-breed. The pup was almost 6 months old, a kid by dog standards and he was giving them away lest they all end up in a shelter. In less than a week, I will be a proud, yet still surprised pet owner. But I was unprepared. After an extensive family meeting, I decided to start shopping.
The first thing to consider is puppy food. According to my friend, the pup was still on wet food. This means if I want to feed the dog kibble, or any kind of dry food, I need to buy both and slowly adjust the diet. A food bowl obviously comes next, then a water bowl. The ones where you can put a generic water bottle on should be more practical, at least it would need less effort in refilling.
I considered the food puzzles where the dog has to put some effort into eating, but considering the new dog will be filled head-to-paw with anxiety, I'd like to lessen the impact and make the eating experience a bit more relaxing.
Next should be the pup's lodgings. I need to get a crate. The crate will be delivered in a week, so I hope a nice cardboard box and a clean old blanket should suffice for now. I will be adamant that this pup will never sleep on the human bed, no matter how adorable they are, or how cold it is. Cruel, I know, but this is for my own good.
Responsible puppy owners should also get training tools. For now, a decent bag of treats should suffice. A small collar and leash are mandatory for the future walks I'll do with the pup.
I want to be the one that does the training because dog training classes are too far from my home, and they don't do house calls, at least presently.
Now that food, lodgings, and treats are covered, it's time for some toys. I have a 5-year-old daughter, and I fear some of her toys will get wrecked, so chew toys are important. I can't tell yet if the pup will be good with children, but I can at least say that my child is good with pets. We have three cats, all of which regard our daughter with respectful indifference.
With that said, the next thing I need to do is make the house safe for my new pup. It's at this stage that I learned how making a house safe for a puppy, is the same as making it safe for a baby or a toddler. The old plastic baby gate we used to keep our toddler from entering the kitchen is finding a new purpose. The rule of thumb is to keep them from dangerous things they could knock or chew, like electrical cords, medicine, any choking hazards, trash bins, and cleaning chemicals.
With that already out of the way thanks to us having a kid, it's time to pick a spot where the puppy will eat. Dogs are messy eaters in general. My grandmother once owned a mini-pinscher and there are times when the picky little squirt would topple the food bowl to pick which kibble she liked. I assumed the same and picked the area close to the bathroom where the stone tiles will make it easy to clean the area every now and then. Apparently, you must not feed them near the dinner table, nor anything from the table as it promotes bad behavior in the long run.
There's a lot more to consider like potty training. Simply shopping for the food and items, and keeping the house safe is already quite the task, but on top of that, you need to make sure they don't make a mess by relieving themselves. For now, the stack of newspapers we accumulated in our adult lives will also find a new, albeit messy purpose. My friend informed me that the pups are not formally potty trained, so I have my work cut out for me.
I also have to face a certain reality. The dog is already around 6 months old, which means I missed an important phase in their life stage where I could have taught them important things. Now I must plot out how I can train him to better fit our family, because the better we can help him adjust, the more we can enjoy our time with him. Learning things like house training and obedience training is on top of the list, because the last thing I want is to dislike my new dog just because I failed to educate him. On the other hand, I believe this pup should be approaching the 2nd Fear Phase in their entire life, so I should have a nice window to train him.
All these preparations are almost like I'm preparing for another human child. There are far fewer things to consider but overall feels the same. The pup will be a part of my life, and hopefully, I can make it a fun, fruitful, and engaging life for him. Prospective owners at least should think as much. Dogs can provide great service like keeping the house safe, keeping you company, and to some extent, babysitting your kids. So we at least owe it to them to give them an exciting time, or at least a comfortable life.
There's also one last thing I must consider, in fact, it's probably one of the most important ones. The pup will be arriving in a few days and I must give him his new name. My daughter insists on being the one to name him after seeing pictures of the pup. After watching a certain animated movie ad nauseum about a wayfinding girl and a certain trickster demi-god, our new puppy will be named, "Maui" (pronounced 'Ma-wee')