Last year I got a puppy called Clarence. He’s great and I love him more than I do most humans. Owning him has taught me many things, not least that puppies can take on the worst traits of their owners. Regardless, it’s been a journey so here’s 12 things our first 18 months together have taught me
In those early days you will feel like a celebrity and it will intoxicate you
If you get a puppy when they’re literally brand new, you can’t let them walk outside until they’ve had a flotilla of jabs. This normally takes a couple of weeks but of course you want to socialize them, so you carry them everywhere.
The attention received in this period is something you must prepare yourself for. Complete strangers will chase you down the street. They will shout “OHMYGODLOOKATYOURTITCHYLITTLEWOOFER!’ when you’re emerging from the corner shop bearing a twin pack of loo roll and a vaguely anxious squint. A couple of times you will genuinely stop the traffic. You will have an existential crisis and wonder whether people only like you because of your puppy, yet when that puppy gets bigger you will seriously consider buying another just to experience that sweet sadness of that feeling again.
Learning ‘paw’ is totally pointless and for show off owners who probably also put coats on their dog.
You will become a lunatic’s best friend
Before I got Clarence, people mostly made two comments. 1: “Don’t get a dog. A dog will die in your care.” 2: “You’re only doing this to meet girls.” He’s still alive and I’m far too modest to comment on its success with the latter (okay it has helped, actually quite a bit), but no-one suggested that my puppy procurement was part of a grand plan to become a walking magnet for the clinically insane. You can spot them a mile off: anyone wearing a fez, a long fur coat and a vacant smile that says ‘never really came back from Woodstock’ will be on their knees and hooting - actually hooting - with gratitude when your puppy sticks its tongue in their ear.
Every time you're out walking and your puppy starts fighting or chasing another puppy, the other owner and you, in tandem, will say: “Oh perfect, they’ll sleep for hours when they get home.” This or “Oh perfect, I wont have to walk them for as long now.”
There must be some sort of law about this because honestly everyone does it.
Toilet training a puppy is easy if you devote yourself to it
Dogs are relatively clever animals and if you swiftly introduce a routine, take them out 10 times a day and get them used to shitting in the park rather than your washing basket, they’ll learn very fast. Like five days. Mine took six months and still pisses in excitement when he sees people he likes. Say what you will.
You and other dog owners will frequently opine about how ‘clever dogs are.'
And inside you’ll be thinking about the fact that yesterday your puppy tried to start a fight with himself in a mirror.
His presence is an unspoken proviso of any social event you attend. The day before going anywhere you will receive a text saying “hey, just checking: ur bringing Clarence to lunch tomorrow…aren’t you?”
Your parents, especially, will be guilty of this.
The power you can yield with a single tennis ball will never cease to amaze you.
That ball is a Playstation 3, a bottle of whiskey and a thousand free rides on Space Mountain all in one. It is everything to that dog, and when you have it in your palm he both loves you and hates you for holding everything he holds dear in your damned, pink, shiny hands.
You will have conversations with your puppy in private that would have you sectioned were a human to hear them
And there’s absolutely no way I’m going to write them here.
If you have a boy…they couldn't care less about having their knackers cut off.
I was racked with guilt about having Clarence neutered, but when I picked him up post-chop he was bounding around the vet’s surgery, gleefully wazzing on any surface, happy as Christmas with his favourite slappable grin. The only time he got sad was when I put a cone round his neck; then he got in a proper strop with me, as if I was the one that took the knife to his cobblers.
Cheap meat is king.
If you want your puppy to be good at recall - and you do, because really it makes your life so much easier - for the first nine months of their life you will carry around a bag of awful luncheon meat, chopped up into small treat-size pieces. You want the cheapest shit in the shop- the sort of pungent, primordial crud that no human should ever let pass their lips. That puppy will love that horrible food more than he could ever possibly love you, and be forever at your beck and call.
Shitzus are the absolute worst.
Awful dogs. Chippy. Snappy. Shit hair. The only thing I trust less than a shitzu is a shitzu owner.