The author has recently become the owner of a small dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Harry. Most of my friends only have human children so can’t really understand the unique bond that I have with my furry little pal and the depth of love that I feel for him. Harry has truly warmed my icy black heart and I plan to quit my job in order to become a full time carer to him but before that I thought I’d share my experiences of becoming a dog owner with you, dear reader.
It was entirely my wife’s idea
For a long time I refused to get a dog. It’s not that I’m a dog hater, even though I know some pretty annoying dogs, I’m not that much of an arsehole you understand. I just didn’t really want the responsibility that owning a dog entails. My wife really, really, really wanted a dog though and that had been abundantly clear for quite a long time.
So – to begin with, a quick note to all you WAG’s out there. You’re probably thinking yes Rick! I want a cute furry little mate too but I can’t be arsed with all of the walking and the getting up early and the picking up poo in bags that goes on for well in excess of a decade so I need to convince my husband that it’s his idea to get one and then I can force him to take all of the responsibility. Well let me just stop you there sweetheart! As a woman, you simply do not have the subtlety required to pull off an operation of this kind.
Now you’re going, Oh how little you know me Rick – I play these mind games on my dopey fuckstick of a husband week in week out and the poor simpleton never twigs what I’m doing and I always end up getting my own way. Let me just stop you there love. What actually happens is your husband, your poor tired husband sees you coming a mile off and just decides to skip to the end and give you what you want. It’s quicker, it’s easier and he even lets you believe that you’ve bamboozled him in to giving you what you want because he knows you enjoy the sport and he likes to see the cute little smile on your evil little face. Sometimes though, on major issues he may decide to dig his heels in.
Therefore, if you’re a woman and you want a dog then you’re better off with either of these options;
- Sell the benefits of getting a dog to your husband. Take him to the pub and bribe him with alcohol. Explain to him that “this pub is dog friendly and if we had a dog then we could sit here with him and drink all day in front of this nice cozy fire and you could even watch the football, for a bit, without me complaining constantly because you will have given me the greatest gift of all – a dog.” This nearly worked on the author – a soppy, easily manipulated drunken fool at the best of times. I sobered up eventually though and stood my ground.
- Just go full nuclear. Guide your husband to the realisation that owning a dog for the next 10 -20 years and all of the ball ache that goes with it will actually be far less annoying than having to listen to you bang on about it constantly for every minute of every day until the end of time. He’ll crack eventually, as a woman you definitely have the stamina required to pull this off.
And so that’s what happened. By the time my wife said, “I’ve found a breeder and they make this type of dog can we go and cuddle one?” I was already broken and bloodied on the canvas. I simply couldn’t get up for the next round and even though I knew I was making the fatal, fatal mistake of going to actually see some puppies, I found myself agreeing…
This was the first time I met Harry. As you can see from his expression he was a little bit like, “Who in the name of all Holy Christ are you and what exactly do you want?”
At this stage I was still thinking to myself, we’re just going to meet the breeder and ask a few questions, that doesn’t mean we’re actually going to get the dog. Then of course, as soon as I met the little bugger I immediately imprinted on him and that was me done. He sniffed and licked my face, I did likewise, and just like that I had agreed to arrange my entire life around him for the foreseeable future. Well played wife.
We did agonise over the decision for a day and a night. You don’t get long to decide if you want to take the puppy because they’ve got people queueing up for them. In the end we thought about how we would feel if we called the breeders back and we were too late and he’d gone off to live with someone else. No way were we ever going to be having that. He was ours.
It’s impossible to really “train” a dog
I had long since held the view that dogs are basically every bit as bad as cats, but because they are more affectionate they just get away with it and that has turned out to be pretty much completely true.
The first thing you need to understand is that all dogs, all animals in fact, are naturally just badly behaved, incredibly selfish bastards. You’ll never really be able to train them in the traditional sense. Rather, it is your job to trick, manipulate and bribe them in to doing what you want. It’s all about trying to outsmart your puppy in every scenario. Get them to wee on a puppy pad, then move the puppy pad closer and closer to the door until eventually it’s outside and then the dog suddenly finds itself weeing outside thinking how the fuck did I get out here? That’s it. People like to make out that dogs are clever enough to train but really they’re just stupid enough to manipulate. Most of the time.
We take Harry to a puppy class every Wednesday which has been basically no help and serves only to undo much of my good work by getting him overstimulated and sending him batshit crazy on puppy treats.
The puppy teacher did say one thing which struck a chord though and it was about learning the command to get your dog to “give” or “leave it.”
She said that you need to train them to associate your hand with treats and good stuff in case you ever have to take away an item which is “high value to them.” That pretty much sums it up, it is just a never ending negotiation as such;
“Harry! Give me back that sock.”
“No. This is high value to me. I am only prepared to relinquish it in exchange for another item of equally high value such as kibble or the oven glove or my favourite toy Mr. Fox who you have so cruelly hidden from me.”
“Well that’s because last time you had Mr. Fox you were getting a little bit too friendly with him, weren’t you?”
“As I explained, that wasn’t what it looked like. I tripped.”
“I am prepared to accept two items of medium value. Medium value items include kibble, anything made of plastic, anything made of cardboard, anything made of wicker, sticks, kibble, full and unfettered access to the dishwasher and it’s contents for twelve hours, kibble, or your face for me to lick – including ears AND mouth.”
“You can have some kibble and access to the dishwasher for three minutes.”
And that is basically how you train a puppy.
Puppies can be quite bitey – remember this AT ALL TIMES
This is important information. Puppies, while usually very sleepy and cuddly, sometimes do turn in to little feral bitey monsters and you will do well to remember this. You don’t want to rush downstairs of a morn, wearing nought but a pair of loose fitting boxer shorts, let your excitable puppy out of his sleeping crate and then squat down in order to greet the little fellow. This isn’t a hypothetical situation, of course, this is something that I actually did.
Harry was super excited as he always is first thing in the morning and was nipping at my fingers and toes and then, suddenly – something else.
Yes it would seem that little Rick had been making an appearance out of the leg of my boxer shorts and as I bent down the dog must’ve thought he was having sausage for breakfast. I felt a very sharp nip, and a slight tug which kind of took my breath away in the manner in which one might reasonably expect a puncture wound to the penis to do.
I looked down and saw a thick globule of very dark blood on my leg. As it slowly began to trickle it’s way down I looked up to see my wife entering the kitchen. White as a sheet and in a state of panic I said to her;
“Something terrible has happened.”
“Oh my God! What’s happened to the dog?”
“Nothing, the dog is fine but I think I am going to require either a trip to A&E or a Prince Albert.”
True story. The little guy had bitten me right on the very southern-most point of the old chap, right on the tip. Made a full recovery though since you ask. Was a bit of a bleeder though.
So there you have it. That’s basically the full story to date of how we got a dog. Harry is settling in really well and I’m amazed at how quickly he has taken over our lives, in a good way. He loves going for a walk and running through leaves, he’s pretty speedy so we’ll be taking him to agility classes in the near future. He definitely chews at at least a 16 week level even though he’s only 14 weeks, probably due to putting in a minimum of 2 hours chewing practice per day, we’re all very proud of him. He’s particularly fond of going to the pub and sitting on the sofa watching telly with mummy and daddy. He loves kibble.
To date he has bitten my wife’s nose a few times but thankfully my genitals remain fully intact. Never change Harry, never change.