Our lives have been some what chaotic and tiring the past 4 months. The day before Valentines Day 2019 we picked up a crazy bouncy 4 month old chocolate Labrador puppy. In all honesty I had absolutely no idea on how much a puppy would change our lives. I already have a cat Jess, who I re-homed in 2014. I’d been a pet owner for the past 4 yrs, how much more difficult could a dog be? I actually laugh at myself now for how naive I was. My partner Mark has had a chocolate lab in the past and was telling me how much hard work it was. I listened to his stories and this STILL didn’t prepare me for what was to come.
At first we did contact local animal shelters and visited Dog’s Homes but we either missed out or the dogs weren’t suitable. (We tried to re-home a 7yr old golden lab called Buddy but alas he found a home quickly.) We had to make sure they were okay with cats and children. We have friends and family with young children and one day hope to have our own. So as much as we did try, re-homing didn’t pan out for us. We got Bella at 4 months and not younger as she was the last of her litter. No one else wanted her because she had lots of grey flecks in her coat down her back. She wasn’t pure chocolate and this put people off. We couldn’t believe this and even the breeder had reduced the price because she was left and now older than what young pups go for. We felt awful for her and just felt like we couldn’t turn our backs on her.
FIRST FEW DAYS
So the days leading up to us collecting her I ran around picking up dogs stuff, blimey that stuff is expensive. Why is dog stuff so much more expensive than cat stuff. Surely this is discrimination of some kind! Also getting a larger breed of dog we had to get a larger dog bed, yep your guessed it, was more expensive than small beds by £20!!!!! So we collected her 13th Feb and we were honestly so excited yet terrified at the same time.
First night we put her in our kitchen with a baby gate across the door. We felt mean crating her and this gave her a little more room. She cried a lot and I slept very little but she soon settled. Second night was way worse, she wouldn’t stop crying and I had to sleep on the couch so she could see me. Third night was much more interesting, again she wouldn’t stop crying and we heard a bang then a pitter-patter at the bottom of our stairs. The TV then came on and we suddenly realised shes out!!!! I go downstairs to find Bella, curled up on the sofa, munching on Marks slipper. She’d only gone and jumped the baby gate. That night Mark slept on the couch with her. In the morning Mark had said she’d slept right through and so after only 3 nights Bella had managed to break us and we allowed her to sleep in our bedroom on the floor. I was upset at first feeling like I had failed, but what works for someone doesn’t work for everyone. Since then she’s been great during the night and more often than not sleeps right through to our morning alarm.
So we did actually revisit the crate training as we realised Bella could jump the baby gate which meant she would get to the dining room and front room which we didn’t want. So we decided to crate train her for when we were out at work. The first day went well and I set up a camera to keep checking on her, we were only gone an hour. The second night we left her to go out for a family meal, again setting up the camera. I’d driven only 20 mins and quickly checked the camera before going in. As it loaded we both saw Bella run past the crate in the living room…she’d only broken out of it!!!! When we got home she’d chewed a bunch of Mark’s vinyl’s and mop head. So I then cable tied the crate as she’d managed to push a corner of it out.
The next time we left her Mark’s dad came to check on her at dinner as he does 3 times a week. He rang Mark and he got to ours to find Bella had got out the crate, she’d eaten books and chewed our internet cable. I was sat at work thinking how on earth has she got out that crate. I came home from work early and guess what….the crate was still intact with the door still closed and cable ties still in place. I’ve still to this day absolutely no idea how she broke out that bloody crate. So after only 2 days our crate training also went out the window and Bella has ended up having the dining room and kitchen. Since then we’ve had no further issues as such…I mean she has taken to chewing our dining table legs and door frames. But better that then her chewing through live electrical cables.
Bella is now almost 9 months old and we’ve had her for 5 months. The past 5 months have tested me like nothing ever has before. I’ve never been so tired or stressed in my life. In honesty there have been times were I asked Mark to take her back because I can’t hack it. I've cried many times and felt like a horrible dog mom! Mark has been stronger and persevered with it all, promising me it gets easier. I’ve also found lots of support from people on Instagram, giving me tips and sharing their stories too. Made me realised I wasn’t alone and yep getting a dog is bloody hard work.
She’s still hard work now I won’t lie. She still jumps up at people and will drag you across the road if a crisp packet blows across the street (I hate walking her when its windy for this exact reason). But slowly and surely she’d showing improvements in her recall and listening. She’s such a sociable loving dog and she loves a cuddle. So don't feel bad if you got a pup and didn't bond straight away or feel like your struggling. I did massively! But the unconditional love she has given me and Mark is like nothing else.