We officially adopted our puppy Dexter on our 6 year anniversary, January 10th. Before adopting him, we had fostered him for 1 month because he was heartworm positive. Since bringing him home for the first time on December 1st, I have learned so many lessons. If you are considering adopting a dog, you might experience these lessons also! Were they somewhat difficult to learn? Yes, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything (except maybe some wisdom during our sleep deprivation haha).
Lessons I learned from Dexter:
Dogs have their own personalities
You might be thinking, “Duh, Jess!” However, I didn’t realize how much Dexter would have his own personality. Sure, cats have their own quirks, but they are pretty easy going and predictable in my experience. Bringing a dog into our home changed a lot of dynamics. When he was first trying to get used our home and the rules, it was rough. I was trying to make him conform to exactly how I wanted him to act. I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. I figured out that when I first come home, we must play or go for a walk first to get his energy out. I had to adjust my usual schedule of “relaxing” on the couch scrolling through social media after work. Honestly, that was one of the best changes. I have more energy in the evening now.
If something isn’t working, pivot.
I had to think fast when making changes to accommodate Dexter. He is another life in our house that has needs. He had trouble communicating that he needed to go outside, and would just go in the house. I searched online and talked to some friends for advice. I decided to try training him using a potty bell. It hangs on the door handle and he can either bump it with his nose or use his paw. Training him was a struggle, but now that he is not on any medications, he uses it 99% of the time to let us know he has to go outside.
One thing I wish I would have pivoted on sooner was the sleeping arrangements. We thought leaving the crate in our living room overnight would okay. I refused to have him upstairs. Well, if I hadn’t been so stubborn, I could have slept a hell of a lot more during that 1 month. Dogs are pack animals. They bond. At least with him, he wants to be with us. Going to back to each dog having their own personality…
I am mostly a patient person. However, I was very stuck in my ways and habits. Adding Dexter to the mix tried my patience pretty hard. I had to regroup and find my patience with him, even when he was acting out.
We had to look at reasons why he was acting the way he was and not jump to conclusions. I’m still learning patience.
Dexter wants to play all. the. time. Sometimes we get stuck on focusing on all of our responsibilities, that we forget to play or even just simply enjoy a walk. He has taught me to balance between taking care of my responsibilities and finding time to play. Now that the weather is warming up, it is definitely easier to get outside with him and play. Inside the house, we still threw the ball or played tug-a-war. I also learned that I need to balance my “work” time and find time to “play” by reading, writing, seeing friends, or just hanging out in the kitchen with my husband laughing.
Bringing Dexter into our home and life has been crazy, but oh so good. I’ve always been a “cat person”, but having Dexter has made me like dogs a little more. He is a great dog who almost never barks, he is very friendly and learns quickly.
What are some lessons you have learned from your pets?