10 Things I Learned from My Dogs.

GIANNIS & SUGE

My first experience with dogs was back in the yellow house in Lagos. Simba and Nala, two German Shepherds. My dad loves animals, and with his big heart, it only makes sense that we had dogs when I lived in Nigeria.  I have few memories of them, but the first memory was of my sister feeding them milk as puppies. It was the first time I saw puppies up close. My second and last significant memory of them was when one of the dogs jumped on my leg and scratched me. I became afraid of the dogs after that. In hindsight, I am sure they just wanted to play. 

The next time I lived with a dog was during my senior year attending UNT. Her name was Bailey. I was coming out of a difficult time in my life, so I decided getting a dog would help get me closer to living the life I wanted to live post grad. I wanted to have a decent paying job that would allow me to be independent, a comfortable 1-bedroom apartment, and a medium sized dog to love me. Unfortunately, my excitement quickly turned into anxiety as I became overwhelmed with the responsibility. I was not mentally ready to have anyone or anything 100% depend on me, so I returned Bailey less than 72 hours after I adopted her. As I was walking out of the shelter, she started walking out behind me, and I realized she didn’t hate me after all. We were both having a hard time adjusting to what would have been our new lives, but I hope she ended up in a more stable home. Less than a year later, my roommate decided to adopt a dog and named her Bailey as well. Bailey #2 now lives with my old college roommate.

In 2018, my partner, who was my girlfriend at the time, and I decided we wanted a dog. She grew up with dogs her entire life, and I missed having a dog around, so we started our search. We found Giannis on Craigslist, and it was almost too good to be true. She slept a lot at first, and for the first month, I thought she hated us. Getting to know Giannis, she is the sweetest dog on the planet!  I always wanted a Blue Pit, and we started discussing what it would be like to have 2 dogs. We bought our first home in 2019, and it has a backyard. We decided it would be a good time to have more dogs, so we started casually looking again. Less than 6 months after having that initial conversation, we found Suge. We fell in love with him right away, and we added him to the family. Suge is a ball of energy! His smile is infectious, and his puppy eyes melt your heart every time. After 6 months of being a fur mommy of two, I have learned a lot.

Here are 10 Things I learned from having dogs. 
1. Selflessness
2. Responsibility
3. Unconditional Love
4. Every dog has his or her own personality
5. There are few stomach problem boiled rice and chicken can’t cure
6. Puppies are very much like human children
7. Having full conversations with your fur babies is 100% okay!
8. Sharing responsibility of your fur baby will give you an idea of what your partner will be like as a parent
9. Pollen on dogs still make my allergies react
10. Appreciation

1. Selflessness
It was no longer just about me. No matter what I wanted to do, I had to take my dogs into account. It was tricky making plans around Giannis’s bathroom schedule. Being in your 20’s, the evenings and nights are your time to be social. I became more mindful of my schedule and acknowledged that I had obligations.

2. Responsibility.
Having to do the 4 floors walk to take Giannis out to potty at our first apartment was annoying! I loved taking her to the park, and to watch how excited she was as she burned energy out there. Making sure she had enough food to eat, had all her shots on time, and attending to her sensitive skin were constant thoughts running through my mind. I was fully aware that this new life was my responsibility, and her health and livelihood depended on us.

3. Unconditional Love.
Giannis always knows when we need a little extra attention or cuddles. She can sense when we are having hard days, and she always knows just what to do to make you not feel alone. She is great at doing something silly to bring you out of your funk, and it will make your heart smile. Regardless of how grumpy or prickly you are, she will always come back with the same amount of love and understanding… Not that she has much understanding to begin with.

4. Every dog has his or her own personality.
Getting Suge made me realize not all dogs are sensitive. Suge has an independent, carefree, happy-go-lucky personality. No matter how uncomfortable he is, it seems like his #1 goal in life is to entertain you. Understanding that he is a puppy, he has 10 times more energy that Giannis ever did as a puppy. Giannis is smart, patient, and protective, while Suge is so playful it can sometimes be exhausting to watch.

5. There are few stomach problem boiled rice and chicken can’t cure.
Suge has the stomach of a food competition champion. He rarely has a stomach problem. Giannis, on the other hand, has a sensitive stomach. We gave her cooked salmon once, and she threw it up. When she’s having a hard time digesting her food in any way, boiled rice and chicken breast always helps regulate her and gets her appetite back. Another one is pumpkin puree. I know it might sound weird, but it works! Believe me.

6. Puppies are very much like human children.
I have been forced to be patient with my fur babies. It takes a while to communicate something to them, and it can be very frustrating when they don’t get it. At some point in their lives, all they want to do is play, eat, sleep, and potty. Sounds very similar to babies. Just like small children, puppies don’t always know what they need or what’s best for them. If you let them, puppies will not nap, eat everything you put in front of them, and they are not potty trained! Just like small children, puppies are sweet, innocent, and happiness inducing.

7. Having full conversations with your fur babies is 100% okay!
There are many times when I need to rationalize my thoughts or have casual conversation with someone. You know those conversations you have in your head with someone else you know, but you reply on their behalf because you think you know them so well? Yes, those. I have those conversations with my dogs because I think their facial expressions tells me exactly what they are thinking. On a more serious note, having conversations with my fur babies is normal because I consider them family, and I love the engagement.

8. Sharing responsibility of your fur baby will give you an idea of what your partner will be like as a parent.
Before my partner and I adopted Giannis, we discussed who would do what. We both walk the dog and take them to the park. We both feed them, and equally take financial responsibility for them, and we both pay attention to their livelihood. I am more detail oriented when it comes to the dogs. I schedule appointments and buy dog food, and things like that. My partner is the playful cuddly one, so they love hanging out with her.

9. Pollen on dogs still make my allergies react.
I have THE worst allergies to trees, grass, and dust in general. Hives, shortness of breath, itchy watery eyes and all.  The dogs’ hair attracts particles of the things I am allergic to, and it makes it hard for me to hug or cuddle them. Carrying Suge was out of the question. Being in a new construction home that is still settling and having 2 dogs with a backyard has forced me to begin immunotherapy. So far, so good… given the Coronavirus pandemic.

10. Appreciation.
I have simply come to appreciate my dogs, our journey together, and I can’t imagine the days when they will no longer be here with us. I look down at my babies laying down beside me in deep sleep as I write this, with Suge making alien noises, and I can’t help but feel blessed.

This experience has helped me get an idea if what being a mother of different children might be like. It has been very intimidating, overwhelming, and frustrating, but it has also been rewarding at every step of the way. I love my Bugga and Sugar!


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