Pretty In Bronze: mentalhealth
Showing posts with label mentalhealth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mentalhealth. Show all posts

Sunday, February 02, 2020

We Got A Puppy - My Experience With the Puppy Blues and Anxiety
February 02, 20200 Comments

This is just a regular life post I've been wanting to make ever since getting Sophie, the newest edition to our little family. I feel like this can be helpful for people who are looking into getting a puppy, as well as those that are struggling with a puppy, or have the puppy blues. I have a video at the end of when I got Sophie, but this post is mainly to focus on my pre-existing anxiety, puppy blues and how I'm doing much better and hope you will too! I also included the puppy vlog at the end of this blog post that we filmed before and when we first got Sophie!


Here's a bit of backstory: I LOVE dogs with my whole entire heart. I have Chewy, my 11-year-old Griffonshire Terrier (half Yorkshire Terrier and Brussels Griffon), who I adopted when he was almost a year old. He was (and still can be) a problematic dog because he came from an abusive situation. Over the years he's become so much better and can get along with a lot of people and dogs, but he still barks his head off. He also wasn't exposed to many people, so he hates anyone that looks different (I'm talking different skin tones, accents, hats, hair, etc.), but thankfully it's minor in comparison to when I first got him. I thought Chewy was difficult to deal with because he was already an adult. Sure, he only had a few accidents inside and occasionally would revenge pee (I'm serious), but he was also twelve pounds so it wasn't too bad to deal with.

Chewy, 11 years old.

Skip forward ten years. I've dreamt for over a decade of getting a puppy. I know it's selfish since there are so many dogs out there like Chewy, who need a second chance, but I always wanted to have at least one puppy that I could fully bond with from start to end. Specifically, I wanted a Chocolate Newfoundland puppy.

Years ago when Steven (my soon-to-be husband) and I first started dating, his neighbour adopted a chocolate Newfie. I'd never heard of the breed before, but instantly fell in love with her personality. I immediately started researching the breed and knew that it was the dog for us. They're amazing family dogs and are great with children, which is very important to us because we want to have babies in a few years and don't want to worry about having a dog breed that isn't good with them. Newfies are also a giant breed, meaning they get to the weight of a human, and sometimes more. Chocolate Newfoundlands are on the small end of the scale in comparison to Landseer, Silver and Black Newfoundlands. These dogs are fairly low to moderate energy when fully grown, which was great for me because I'm not a fan of exercise and the maximum of forty minutes a day that is recommended by professionals sounded great as well. The final deciding factor was the fact that Newfies aren't bad as apartment dogs. For the first several months of their life, Newfoundlands aren't supposed to use stairs, which makes living in a condo much easier.

In late 2018, we finally started our search. We discovered that Chocolate Newfoundland puppies are very difficult to come across in Canada, and when you do, they're normally over $3500 and have to be flown into Ontario. While we can certainly afford a dog, that's a lot of money that we weren't willing to spend solely on the purchase price. A lot of events led us to finding a Canadian breeder (I can tell the story on YouTube at some point) and we were set to get a puppy right before Christmas of 2019! Sophie—the name of the mother dog—didn't end up having puppies. We're still not 100% sure if she had a miscarriage or if she simply never got pregnant, but we're leaning towards miscarriage since the breeder told us she was 90% certain two weeks before the expected due date. We were heartbroken, but I refused waiting another six months to potentially still not have another puppy right around the wedding time in 2020. I started broadening my search and decided to look at American breeders. That's when I found the breeder we went with.

Getting our puppy!

We were finally going to have a puppy and were set to pick her up on November 30th, 2019 from Pennsylvania. In honour of the puppy we didn't get a chance to have, we decided to name our puppy Sophie. We bought the giant Costco bed, ordered a crate over a month in advance and everything we would need for Sophie and counted down the days. I was super excited and couldn't stop talking about it. My dreams of having a puppy were finally coming true and I didn't feel any anxiety over it. I was excited the entire six-hour road trip down, when I met the puppy, and crossing the border back into Canada. When we were about twenty minutes away from Steven's parents' house the feeling of dread set in.

Sophie at 5 weeks old.

I came to learn that this feeling of dread wasn't going to go away after one night. Things were difficult, but I figured I'd get used to it after a few days. I never really considered how often puppies need to relieve themselves. With Chewy, he was fully grown so I never had to wake up at night to bring him outside or worry about leaving him alone for a few hours. My anxiety gets worse if I don't get a good night of sleep, so that started building. Sophie was (and still is) teething and would try to eat the floor, walls, doors, hands, blankets and pretty much anything she could get her mouth on. I had to be hyper aware at all times and it was exhausting me.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and it got really bad to the point of a few panic attacks and what felt like complete mental breakdowns. I had almost two weeks of working from home alone with Sophie while Steven was working, and it drove me crazy. I felt like I hated Sophie and regretted getting a puppy. I couldn't remember why I even liked dogs in the first place. I became afraid of having children in the future. Not only was I struggling with the regular puppy problems, but our crate never arrived (that's a whole other story) so I couldn't even go to the washroom without having Sophie with me. It was awful. I lost seven pounds in the span of one week from not having time to eat because Sophie never seemed to sleep long enough.

A few days before I was completely off of work for the next three weeks, I got sick. I hadn't been taking my vitamins, eating properly or taking showers. I got a really bad UTI the night before my holiday company party (I still went). After a few really bad days of non-stop crying I knew something had to be done. I can do a post on my personal mental health if anyone is interested, but in this one I'll stick to the puppy related stuff.

Sophie, 9 weeks old
When the holidays were finally over and we were back at the Condo, Sophie had trouble adjusting for a few days. A crate had finally arrived (over a month late) so we at least had that. We were very lucky that she was able to sleep through the night and not have an accident when we first woke her up to bring her outside in the morning. She would excited pee when Steven came home at lunch to let her out and when I got home from work, but that stopped after a few days. By the next week, there were no more excited urination accidents at lunch or after work. Sophie stopped having frequent accidents in general. In mid-January, we started leaving Sophie unattended when we were at home with her without many accidents. Puppy school was/is amazing (she was doing well above the level and she was the youngest in the class by over a month). Now, we still have the odd accident if we take too long or let her have too much water, but I'm finally at the point where I love Sophie and wouldn't go back in time to not get her. My puppy blues are finally gone, and only my anxiety remains, but that's permanent for me anyway.

I'm an author, so I'm not the best at writing short posts. To sum it up: Yes, the puppy blues is a real thing and it's terrible. It'll make you resent your puppy and hate your life. What I'm telling you is that they will go away, so don't give up on your puppy after only a month. It took me nearly two months to finally love my dog and look forward to seeing her when I'm away. While she's not perfect yet, Sophie's actually a really impressive four-month-old puppy according to everyone who meets her. She knows a lot of tricks, comes to comfort me when I'm crying (very frequent) and is going to make an amazing service dog for me when she's fully grown. She still tries to chew on my hand and my pants when I run by (she's killed one of my Roots sweat pants and put a small hole in another pair, and put a few holes in one of my favourite winter hats), but that's normal behaviour for a puppy that will go away as long as you train them. It'll always be two or three steps forward and one step back until they're grown up, but you will start feeling a bond with your puppy and it feels amazing when they finally become more independent.

Sophie's first visit to my office. 16 weeks/4 months old.

Thanks for reading this super long blog post about my struggles as a puppy owner. If you want to follow Sophie, here's an Instagram photo of hers.

You can also follow Chewy on Instagram!

Here's the puppy vlog we filmed when we first got Sophie!

And here's Sophie's First year video!

See you soon!