Pet Parenting

Being a First-time Dog Parent

I’ve always wanted a dog. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to have one because my grandparents didn’t want to have dogs inside our compound. Stray cats, however, always found their way in, and I hated them. It was late 2013 when a co-worker’s dog gave birth to 8 wonderful puppies and she can’t keep them all. I immediately called my dad and asked him if I can get one. He said “yes” and told me he’ll talk to my aunt and grandfather about it. Yeeeey!

So before Christmas that year, we took home a cute, shy but super adorable little puppy and I named him Padfoot. It was a very wonderful Christmas gift! It was my first time to be a dog-parent. I didn’t know what to do, but I’m still happy about everything.

I was scared of him at first. He was a big puppy. He had a medium sized mother and a labrador father. I was afraid he’d bite me. I didn’t know how to really interact with him, so I searched. I searched online for guides on what and how to feed him, how to train him and how to teach him tricks.

I only had hamsters and rabbits in the past and I hated the stray cats at home. It was my first time to have a pet that needed so much attention. Padfoot needed to be taken out of his house every few hours to let him pee or poo, he needs time to go out to run and play to use up his daily supply of energy, he needs bath at least twice a week and his house needs to be cleaned regularly as well. My father and cousins helped me out, especially on the cleaning parts.

Everything went quite well. In a year, I was able to teach Padfoot a few tricks. He can sit, come when called (if he’s not busy chasing cats), stay, stand, walk, look at me, go back home (“uwi” in tagalog), climb up and down the stairs (“akyat” and “baba”), lay down (“dapa”), crawl (“gapang”), turn around (“ikot”), come closer (“lapit”), stand on two feet, and a few more tricks on command. Some of these still need polishing but I’m still happy about it. It makes me proud because this is my first time.

My father went to work (out of the country). I still had my cousins around, so nothing really changed. Although I can’t take Padfoot out for walks outside our compound like my father can (because he’s so big and heavy, he can drag me if I’m not steadily standing), I let him out to play and run around the compound for a few minutes every few hours. My cousin cleans Padfoot’s house whenever I let Padfoot out to play or give him baths. I call my cousin to “help” clean up Padfoot’s poop as well. I never helped.

It was only when I my cousin went to his father for the new year that I realized how it really is to fully be a dog parent. He stayed there for around two weeks. I needed to do everything I wasn’t doing before, from keeping Padfoot clean, to keeping his house clean, to cleaning-up his poop and everything. It was a LOT harder, and I didn’t really realize it before. I was only doing the fun stuff.

I’m thankful that I was given a chance experience taking care of my pet alone. I had clearer sense of how hard it really is to adopt a dog. I used to want a husky, and I still want one, but I don’t think I’d get one anymore because I’m afraid I won’t be able to really give him the care he needs. Padfoot is enough. And maybe I’d get a smaller dog a few years from now.

Now, my cousins are back, and so are the help they extend in taking care of my beloved first child. I’m glad I’m not alone in this. I’m still thankful that I live in this compound. My grandfather eventually liked Padfoot. My aunt eventually accepted him. My mother still won’t touch him but shows care for him by waking me up every morning and telling me that Padfoot is already hungry. She also talks to him whenever she passes by him. She just don’t like it when he gets excited and jumps. I’m happy everyone here eventually loved him and cared for him. It encourages me and makes me want to be able to do more, teach him more, care for him more and love him more.

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