Just a short drive

Kubo gets into the car on his own and looks out of the window.

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‘Hi!’

This may seem normal but it has only just become a thing for us. He used to be awful in the car; every journey he would drool uncontrollably and really be very unhappy.

In hindsight we made a big mistake when we brought Kubo home and it has taken us about 4 months of severe patience to undo.

When we picked Kubo up we put him in the boot because we thought that in the future we did not want the dog with his muddy paws tramping over the seats. As advised, we drove a couple of miles and then pulled over for him to potentially be sick. He had already been sick – how he had so much in his little belly I’ll never know! He had clearly eaten a roast dinner and swallowed the runner beans whole!

We cleaned him up with the help of some ladies from the community centre where we had pulled over and continued home. He was sick several more times.

We continued taking Kubo in the car to get him used to it and he continued to be sick. He did stop the vomiting after a few days but would drool uncontrollably with anxiety and was clearly distressed.

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Baby Kubo coming home

Then it dawned on us: the car took him away from his family and the car made him feel nauseous so it was no wonder he didn’t want to go in it!

The training began. We tried to not take him out in the car and we fed him as many meals as was practical in the boot or on the back seat with the doors open. We worked up to closing the doors. The idea was to make the car a positive place.

This went on for a couple of months and then we were able to move on to to coaxing him into the vehicle as we’d read if he makes the decision to get in (rather than being picked up) it would be better.

I remember one of the first times sitting in the back passenger seat calling him into the car with a high-value treat for over 20 minutes. I was exhausted from being so patient and upbeat but he had done it and we kept working on it.

There were moments in car parks where I felt embarrassed as I sat there trying to get Kubo to come into the car without losing my cool and just picking him up. We (quite by accident) discovered that Kubo responded to weird noises and if we made an unusual sound he began getting in, presumably to see us and check we were OK! Using we discovered that we could get him in the front foot-well of his own accord within a few minutes. Though making strange noises in public car parks was even more embarrassing!

Then one day he was in the foot-well, I was in the passenger seat and he just climbed onto my lap. From that day he now chooses to sit on the front passenger seat (we have a seat belt for him) and he discovered that he enjoys looking out of the window. He is not a small dog and will always insist on sitting on the seat, even if it means sitting on someone’s lap!

We are slowly now trying to transition him to sit on the rear seats on his own.  No doubt this will take another 6 weeks or so but by keeping calm and continuing to reassure him (with the help of tasty treats!) we know we will get there.

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I’m sure he prefers the drivers’ seat!

 

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Puppy Blues

We spoke about it in great detail: the sacrifices we would need to make, the work we would need to put in, the changes we would need to make in our lives. We still wanted a dog. Important to note that we wanted a dog, not a puppy.

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Young Kubo

Not that puppies aren’t cute! Of course they are and most people want the small bundle of clumsy fluff but we wanted a dog. We wanted a companion that we would have adventures with. We wanted to rescue a dog. However with 2 Ragdolls (cats) it was imperative that they were kept safe and happy and a rescue would be too risky.

So we got a puppy. And I got the puppy blues.

I will be brutally honest; I cried (hysterically) every night for about 2 weeks (and still some after). We argued. I pulled the ‘it’s me or the dog’ line.

It’s not that Kubo wasn’t cute. It’s not even like he was a complete nightmare, not really. But it was a huge, and I mean totally massive, shock to the system.

First of all my partner had a bit of time off so he was home with the pup all day. He’d send me cute pictures and videos and it looked like what you imagine puppy ownership to be. Then I would get home and the peaceful, cute little creature would turn into an absolute monster. I am not exaggerating. He would tear around the house like a Tasmanian devil, chase my babies (cats) and bite everything.

Doesn’t sound so bad? No, I guess it doesn’t, but it really felt like it was.

The cats are my babies and I could not stand the thought that they could get hurt or upset. Kubo only wanted to play but no matter what we did he would not stop chasing them and that was perhaps my biggest heartache.

His energy levels were to be expected I suppose but he was just so relentless. We would play tug with him or race around the garden for hours to wear him out but long after we were tired he was still going. We later learned that by continuing to stimulate him we were actually making the situation worse. We made him over-tired and ratty. You know when you are super tired but you just can’t fall asleep and are running on adrenaline? That’s what we did to him – and he has teeth! So he was OK during the day but by the time I got home he had turned monstrous.

We have a stair gate up so that the cats have a sanctuary.

I would come, resolved that this evening would be better. I was pleased to see my little pup, I would wear my smile. But it would descend into madness and before an hour had passed I would be sat at the top of the stairs with my cats balling my eyes out. I am not proud to say that there were at least two occasions in which I told Dave to leave and take his dog with him. And I meant it. I had sleepless nights. I didn’t eat.

A week passed and I thought it would never get better.

We were hardly talking. I would leave in the morning without even looking at the dog. While I was at work he was getting toilet trained and bonding and I was feeling more like an outsider every time I walked through my own front door. He would look at me with those big eyes and I would just cry and leave the room. I couldn’t bond with him, I didn’t want to be near him.

It brings tears to my eyes remembering how much I disliked this new little life in my house, how much I neglected him (not physically but definitely emotionally) and how absolutely distraught it made me.

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Butter wouldn’t melt

It did get better. Anyone who is struggling to cope: it does get better. I don’t know how. There wasn’t a turning point that I can pinpoint. I just started spending more time with him and slowly building my patience and eventually began to bond.

I felt so alone and it wasn’t until after that I realised I am not the only one who has been through this. I thought I was a horrid person because I really did want to give my boy up but I am so glad I persevered and I cannot thank my partner enough for his patience and support.

I wish I had spoken to someone but instead I smiled and told everyone how wonderful having a puppy was. I tried to be strong and act how I thought I should. The best advice I can give to anyone experiencing the Puppy Blues is to be honest.

You are not a bad person. No matter what you feel: you are not horrible or mean.

There is so much more I could say about that first month and likely I will, but for now I hope this comforts someone else. I wish I had known about the potential for these Blues before we got a puppy. It wouldn’t have changed my mind ultimately but I would have been more prepared (and not beaten myself up so much).

It is worth it in the end. I promise.

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He eventually finds a comfy spot to sleep in!