Saturday, 15 March 2014

Rosie's Birthday!

Rosie just turned four years old!

I honestly can't believe it, the time's gone by so quickly. She's our first dog and so we've really learned a lot with her; namely, how much a dog affects your life on so many different levels.

The most noticeable thing for me is how loving she is. She's a Golden Retriever and I know it's part of their breed, but all she wants is love. And food...and walks. But mostly love. I could probably sit on the floor with her, like I am in the picture, for an hour or two without her wanting to leave. She lies down with her head on my leg and we play a little game. And sometimes she does this cute thing when she's lying on her side where she pats at the floor; I'll pat the floor after that, and then she'll do it after me, and we continue like that for a while. I think it's adorable.

And when we go on walks (also when we feed her, of course), she's the happiest dog in the world. She sniffs almost literally everything. She's just so excited about life!

I often hear stories about dogs protecting their owners in dangerous situations. There was a time when, given her incredibly friendly nature, I doubted whether she'd actually defend us if the occasion arose. The day I knew that she would was a day when we were dog-sitting for our family friends. The family was on vacation, so we'd had their Labrador for a few days and he'd proven to be kind of a pain in the butt, as he barked a lot and didn't really listen to us. One day, we were sitting on the deck with the dogs and the lab was misbehaving, so we told him to quit doing whatever he was doing. He seemed to take offence, and started barking at us persistently. Rosie had had enough of him at this point, so she stood up and angrily barked at him once, a kind of "how dare you insult them" kind of bark. The she proceeded to chase him around the deck. I have never seen her run so fast - he must have really been mouthing off about us. She stopped when she thought he understood the message, and he was a bit more submissive after that. Seeing her defend us like that was a really cool moment for me; it was a sort of validation, like "wow, we really have done a good job of raising her, and she loves us." I've never been prouder of her!

As a family we've also learned how much work having a dog is. Obviously before we got her, we knew we were in for a ton of work and training, but it still caught us off guard. Potty training a puppy was certainly more than I bargained for. After two hours of sleep, my mom and I would wake up to the sound of puppy-Rosie howling, only to find that her crate had been turned into a literal shit-storm. So while I cleaned the crate, my mom gave her a bath...only to be repeated two hours later! This cycle of sleeping, cleaning the crate, sleeping, then cleaning the crate before going back to sleep again, lasted several weeks. It was awful, and some days we just sat at the kitchen table and cried. It's something I never want to experience again.

We used to do day-trips sometimes, but now with Rosie, we have to carefully consider whether or not it'll work. We can't leave her for more than a couple of hours in case she needs to relieve herself. We can't go into a sit-down restaurant if we take her with us, because our day-trips were usually in the summertime and it's just wrong to leave a dog in the car during summer.

Having a dog, we've really had to change the way we go about our everyday lives, and it's honestly been a lot of work. I think before anyone gets a dog they should read all about the difficulties that come with it; a loving companion is almost a given if it's trained properly, but people should learn about all the effort that goes into that before they make their decision.

I started this just wanting to talk about how much I love my dog, but it quickly turned into a warning for potential dog owners...

I'm genuinely glad we have Rosie; she's a wonderful dog, so full of love and excitement, and I hope we have her around for a long time to come!

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