We adopted Mayhem on Halloween 2014, but it was around this time last year when we first spotted him online and started making arrangements to meet him.
We (D and I) had moved in together in August 2014 and, when apartment hunting, had only considered apartments that were dog-friendly. We had planned to wait until early 2015 to get a pup and, in our minds, a 1 year old dog would be perfect for us as we didn’t want to deal with potty training. But we saw 4 month old Dexter on PetFinder and couldn’t stop thinking about him… so I got in contact with his foster parent.
We ended up going to meet him in a park after a weekend of camping. From the first time we met him we could see how goofy and energetic he was, rolling around in the grass with D and prancing around on the crunchy leaves. We spent the week making sure we were ready to be dog parents, and then made it official with his foster parent. We picked him up the following Friday, the 31st, and he sat in the back seat of the car asleep in my lap for the whole drive home.
The first night was so fun, throwing toys for him down our long hallway and watching him slip around on the hardwood floor as he sprinted to go get them. He bounced on and off the couch until he finally fell asleep on us. We spent the weekend getting to know him, and happily figuring out his “I need to go outside!” behavior with just a few house accidents.
D works for a super small and relaxed company, so on Monday he took Mayhem to work with him as we had planned. That afternoon when he got home he could hardly look at the dog because he was so annoyed and furious with him. If it hadn’t been my birthday I know he would have said that he wanted to get rid of him right at that moment. It was just too much for him with work and watching the puppy, but he kept at it for the rest of the week, and even continues to now.
In the weeks following there were times where I refused to look or play with Mayhem because I hated him in those moments for being a needy and annoying puppy; and there were moments when D felt the same way. Luckily for us, we never felt this way at the same time, so the other was always able to step in and take care of Mayhem while the other was too busy kicking themselves for thinking that getting a dog was a good idea. He at times made us feel trapped, like we couldn’t do certain things because we had this dog who depended on us for love and care. But we have learned how to live our lives with him and how to function in our normal social lives even though we have the dog at home.
Training was a lot of work. When we first got him, we could hardly take Mayhem on a walk because he was really just a sled dog trying to pull us every which way… darting after squirrels and other dogs and other people. It was r o u g h. And every other dog owner we passed had an opinion: “Wow, he’s really pulling!” “Have you guys ever thought about training?” “You need to give your dog room to make mistakes!” to which we politely smiled and nodded and waited until they were out of earshot to cuss them out and say how much cuter our dog was than theirs.
We ended up acknowledging that we couldn’t train him on our own and signed up for classes at the local Petco. We ended up being the only dog in the class, so we got one-on-one training time with a woman who seemed to really love our dog. The dog training classes were really more about teaching us the strategies for training the dog, but because it was one-on-one we could come to her with questions about his behavior and she was more than happy to help us outside the typical curriculum.
It has really just occurred to us in the past few months how much all the work we put into training has paid off. Where we used to hear, “Have you guys thought about dog training?” from judgey dog owners while out walking Mayhem, we now hear, “Wow, he’s so well trained!” from non-dog owning pedestrians. Yes, he still pulls on the leash, but it has improved significantly and is something we continue to work on with him. He no longer chases after every squirrel or other dog he sees, and comes when we call him at the dog park… for the most part.
Now we never have days where we hate ourselves for getting a dog. Yeah, it took awhile and a lot of work, but now I just really, really enjoy Mayhem. When we go out for the day and leave Mayhem at home, I’m excited to get back and scratch him and throw his toy and be goofy with him. It’s been fun seeing him grow up and buying him new toys and watching him freak out in excitement. And, of course, it’s nice hearing, “What a good looking dog!” every time we go to the dog park, too. 😉