Earlier this month – on July 8th to be exact – my Sweet Southern Mr. and I celebrated our Goldendoodle’s 4th birthday (that makes her 28 in human years)! Throughout the day, we spoiled our girl with multiple walks, endless treats (she loves Dogsters dog ice creams!), and a couple car rides with the windows down of course. By the end of the evening, our golden gal was so tired she could barely hold her eyes open, and my husband and I spent the waning hours of the day reminiscing about our sweet girl and all the joy she brings to our lives. That said, I thought I’d share 8 things I’ve learned as a full-time dog mom.
A Brief Background
Named after one of my favorite coffee shops in Abingdon, Virginia, Zazzy came into my life at a much needed time. In fact, I often joke with my husband that I’ve been with her longer than I’ve been with him. Unlike past family pets, I wanted to purchase a pet that I could call my own. Looking back, I guess it was an adult rite of passage of some sort, and so I saved up the money (around 1,500 dollars) and dog-proofed my room in preparation for a pet. In late summer of 2014, my father heard about a Goldendoodle breeder in the area who had a litter of puppies available.
Based on some online searches, I knew I wanted a golden colored female Goldendoodle, and after learning that this particular breeder had two puppies available that fit my qualifications, my family and I drove right over.
I hate to be cheesy here, but it was like love at first sight. She was rolling around on a blanket crooning, and when I picked her up, she nuzzled right against my neck. Over the next several weeks we visited my girl (I loved watching her grow!) and received several photos from the breeder until it came time to pick her up. That first night, she laid right up against me in bed, and she does the same today (Thank goodness we have a king-sized bed!).
Just to clarify, I didn’t learn the 8 things below over night or even in the first year. If anything, as a full-time dog mom I’ve realized that your pet can teach you many life lessons whether he or she is four weeks young or four years old!
I’m a Natural Nurturer
At the time I got Zazzy, I didn’t think of myself as a nurturer; however, I learned during the first six months of being a dog mom that I am a natural nurturer. I get enjoyment out of feeding my dog each morning and making sure she has clean water throughout the day. When a thunderstorm rolls around or fireworks go off and she gets scared, I like to be there for her. Before leaving in the mornings for school or work, I make her a bed out of blankets and open up the blinds so she can see outside. I’m not saying you have to do these things to be a good dog parent, I just do them because it’s how I show my sweet girl that I care for her. When my husband and I first got married, he thought I was one of those crazy dog parents (maybe I am!), but now I catch him opening the blinds before he leaves or clearing a spot on the couch for her to sit next to him. Turns out he’s a natural nurturer too! And while we still don’t know if we want to have kids, knowing that we both have nurturing personalities is nice.
Be Prepared to Worry
For people like my husband and I, our dog is our child. When Zazzy shows signs of sickness, we worry… a lot! Note: I’ve heard first-time parents of new borns do this as well! Like babies, dogs can’t tell you in words what’s going on, so it’s up to you – the parent – to figure it out! For example, one night last fall while we were sleeping , Zazzy fell out of bed and crashed to the floor. We woke up with our hearts pounding and soon realized Zazzy couldn’t walk. She had a terrible limp on one side of her body. My husband and I tried to calm her, but nothing worked. She would try to stand up but fall right back down. At 2:00 AM I called my parents and asked what we should do, and they said ice it and wait until morning unless her condition worsened. Although part of me really wanted to run off to the 24-hour animal hospital in the area, I listened to my parents. My husband fixed a bag of ice while I placed blankets and pillows on the living room floor, and we watched Zazzy and iced the front part of her body until we all fell asleep. In the morning she was doing a lot better, and after talking to our vet, I learned Zazzy had only sprained her leg. Still, any good dog parent worries about their pet. I constantly make sure her shots are up to date, and if Zazzy skips a meal, I wonder why. If she scratches more than normal, I examine her skin, and if she throws up, I try to figure out if due to something serious or not. Be prepared to worry!
The Baby Voice Comes with Time
Until my husband called me out on it, I didn’t realize I used a baby voice with Zazzy. My husband was worried because he didn’t have it, and it was then that I realized the baby voice comes with time! One day your talking to your sweet pooch like an adult and BAM! the next thing you know you’re making little kissy noises and telling your pet what a good girl she is in a sing-song voice. It’s kind of like a boy going through puberty. Your voice starts cracking, and baby voice bubbles up from out of no where… at least that’s how it worked for me and my husband. If you love your dog and you consider him or her your child, then the baby voice will come. Give it some time.
The Little Things Mean More
With dogs, everything means more, even the little things. Before Zazzy I seldom found joy in the little things, but now with her, I’m learning to appreciate them. Chasing a squirrel up a tree, stopping to smell a flower bush, or hopping in the river to cool off after a walk… these are life’s simple gifts, and it took getting a dog for me to realize everything I was missing out on. She’s taught me that an action as small as walking to the mailbox to retrieve the mail can be fun, and she’s shown me that sometimes there’s nothing better than going for an evening drive with the windows down. Zazzy doesn’t need fancy jewelry or flashy shoes to be content, and even though I like those things, I’ve learned I can be just as content without them.
“I’ll take a Kid’s Meal!”
Before Zazzy, I stuck to adult entrees; however, I’m learning that kid’s meals are where it’s at, especially if you have pets! Let me explain: anytime I come home with a bright red McDonald’s Happy Meal box, Zazzy knows she’s getting a toy! Dog toys are expensive, and most of the time, they don’t last long, at least not at our house, so when McDonald’s comes out with stuffed animals kid’s toys, my husband and I make it a point to eat there a couple times throughout the month. I get the four count chicken nugget and fries while Zazzy gets a baby tiger to play with. Note: I do check to make sure there aren’t any parts on the toys that can hurt her! She’s not a chewer either so she just runs around with the stuffed animals and rolls over them. Kid’s meals are a win-win for any dog parent!
Personal Space Goes Out The Window
Despite being 65 pounds, Zazzy is an indoor dog. In fact, most Goldendoodles are! Because Zazzy has grown up with unlimited access in a home with loving humans, I think she thinks of herself as a human. She sits on the couch, lays on the bed, and rides in the passenger seat (I even have to snap her seatbelt because the airbag alert will go off). As a dog parent, be prepared for personal space to go out the window! It’s like my husband and I have a constant shadow. When I’m in the bathroom, she’s at least got her snout stuck through the door. When my husband is changing, she’s right there eyes peeled ready to snatch the socks when they come off (see next item for more on that). When we preparing for bed for the night, she hopes right in between us, and when we’re sitting on the couch, if we don’t make room for her, she’ll just sit on our laps. I don’t mind, but I do always warn our house guests that my dog knows no boundaries. Most of the time they’re okay with that.
The Dryer Doesn’t Eat Our Socks
My whole life I’ve been told the dryer eats my missing socks. I can safely say, it’s not the dryer eating my missing socks, it’s my dog. No she doesn’t literally eat them, but they do go missing. For some reason, Zazzy loves socks – dirty ones, clean ones, ankle ones, fuzzy ones… she’s not picky. She’s even been known to try and pull them off the feet of guests. At least once a week, I have to go through the house and hunt out our missing socks. I’ll find them behind the front door, around the edges of our bed, under our desks, and against our couches. Still, in every load of laundry I always end up missing one or two. Thanks to Zazzy, the mystery of the missing socks has been SOLVED!
Adventures in the Outdoors and Planning Travels
Before Zazzy, I was an indoors person. I even worked out indoors. Thanks to Zazzy, my husband and I are both evolving into outdoor people. We seek out hikes or walks where Zazzy can go with us. For instance, we’ll walk the trails at Sycamore Shoals State Park or take Zazzy with us to a more dog-friendly town like Blowing Rock, North Carolina. We plan our travels around our dog so that we can involve her, even if that means choosing a three-star value hotel instead of a five-star resort and spa. Just yesterday, I booked us a fall trip to Myrtle Beach at a dog-friendly hotel. In the past we haven’t been able to take Zazzy (dogs can’t be on the beach from 10-5), but because dogs are allowed on the beach at any time in October, we’re going to get away for my 24th birthday and take Zazzy with us! I have to admit it’s been a challenge at times finding places where dogs are allowed, but if you get joy out of your pet like my husband and I do, it is worth the extra planning and effort.
Dog Mom Signing Off
Being a dog mom can be hard at times, but it can be also be very rewarding. I come home every day to a wagging tail, and each morning when I wake, I’m greeted with a wet-nosed kiss. For an animal lover like myself, it doesn’t get much better than that! My husband and I love Zazzy, and I can admit, she’s had a positive impact on our marriage. I have no doubt she’ll continue to teach the both of us many more lessons in the future. If you’re a dog mom or dad, I’d love to hear some of the life lessons that you’ve learned thanks to your canine. Feel free to share your lessons in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram.
Until next time my darlin’,