Help, we have a puppy!

Some years ago my husband suggested we get a puppy. Instantly I got excited and started to do my research. Having done a lot of reading, watching videos and more reading, I fell in love with, and had my heart set on a Hungarian Vizsla., My husband on the other hand had his heart set on a Labrador Retriever some further discussion needed to be had.

We worked out exactly what we wanted from a dog our list was very clear:

1. Not a small dog, we are lucky to have the space and I am very clumsy as it is. Tripping over a small dog all the time would not only frustrate me but make for a very unhappy doggy.

2. We were after long walks

3. A great personality

4. A dog that would be happy to be around children and other animals

Another month or so went past whilst we discussed which breed we were after and looked into breeders.

One day we came across an advert in our local post office window for Vizsla x Lab pups, well, it had to be, we called the breeder and arranged a visit.

As we drove up to the farm with it's wonderful fields and lovely farm house set well out of town we got excited but realised we had to stay sensible and ensure this was the right puppy for us . We met the breeder and the Mum a Hungarian Vizsla full of bounce and happiness, we were then shown the puppies who came outside for a play, as we sat there chatting to the breeder they said that we could visit at any time, no need to let them know just turn up, this was a great sign that there was nothing to hide. We watched as the pups played and one little pup came bounding over with a sponge in her mouth, well that is a mischievous Millie I said. This pup was the second largest of the litter and ended up being ours, we spent a lot of time there without any pressure to make a decision, in fact we were left alone with the pups to have a chat by ourselves. Having seen Millie, now decided as our pup with a name that stuck, she had an amazing personality and was lots of fun. We had a few weeks to wait before she came home with us so we visited a few times and went about getting ready for our new arrival.

What did we need to bring home a puppy to ensure her happiness? More research and money to be spent.

We bought:

1. A bed, nice and fluffy, really comfortable and far too big for her so that she could grow into it (and out of it).

2. A crate, completely against my husbands wishes, but I had read online that it was a good idea and it was.

3. Toys, lots of toys including chews and cuddle toys

4. Puppy food, we knew we were getting some from the breeder but really quickly wanted to move her across to another feed so got plenty in preparation.

6. A collar

7. A lead

8. Food and water bowls

So, there we were with everything ready and it was time to collect our puppy, it was only a 20 minute drive and she slept all the way home, this is going well I thought. We got her home at about 10am on the Saturday morning, she investigated her new home, slept, ran around a little, slept, investigated, slept, ate, slept. This is going well I thought to myself, it was such a happy day. In the evening we popped her on her bed in the lounge with us she played a little, met the cat (that didn't go so well) and slept. I had spent some time during the day getting her used to her new crate so I popped her in, she settled down and went to sleep, my other half and I went to bed. This is easy we thought, now for us to sleep.

Nope, Millie woke up, realised we weren't around so cried, and cried and cried. I had read online that it was best to leave her to cry so we did. Throughout the night we went down and took her outside to go to the toilet. As soon as we left her alone she would cry, but there was so much information saying we should leave her so we did, eventually she settled down and we could sleep.

The Sunday went in much the same way. That evening we received a phone call, my husband had to work away that week (he would normally work from home). Panic, what do we do? We are extremely lucky that my mother lives just around the corner, so we spoke to her and she popped in all week for a few hours at a time only leaving Millie alone for short periods. The evenings however were super difficult, I was working everyday, I would come home, we would have a play, have dinner, some relaxing time and then it would be bedtime.

A whole week of full-time work without the husband at home and a puppy who had just joined our household, it was awful. For the first night Millie cried and cried and cried. As i said i had read online to leave her so I did. By the second night on my own I just couldn't do it anymore, I went down, scooped up my puppy and feel asleep on the sofa with her. On the third night I popped her in the crate, she whimpered a little, I went up stairs and brushed my teeth, I went straight back down and cuddled her on the sofa until she feel asleep then popped her in the crate. Back upstairs until she woke up then downstairs, out for a wee fell asleep on the sofa with her and popped her back in her crate. By the time my husband came back from a week away she was sleeping in her crate throughout the night but was done in a way which was completely against most recommendations.

The husband was impressed and asked how I had managed it, to be honest, I had no idea at the time, it just felt right. I have since learned a lot and now know why this worked, love and happiness, that is all it takes.

Every dog is different, each an individual, what is right for one might not be right for the other. Using different techniques for both our puppies (we got Flo our Chocolate Labrador a year later) we now have very well adjusted dogs. We are a happy unit and although I look at Flo, lying on the floor with a sock she has just stolen out of the washing basket I now know she will just lay there with it, we will not donate another to our lost sock board.

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Fiona Fowler is licensed by Colchester Borough Council to home board dogs under licence number 88008 due for renewal 31st December 2021

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Institute of Modern Dog Trainers
Pet Industry Federation