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My Bundle of Joy

I’m struggling to stay awake this morning. My little one was up twice in the night. It’s one of those…

I’m struggling to stay awake this morning. My little one was up twice in the night. It’s one of those days when I’m hoping she’ll take a long nap so I can sleep too. But it never works out that way. When she naps, I get work done. I need to snap out of this brain fog so I can get her blankets washed and make an appointment for her last round of boosters.

Oh, I’m sorry, did you think I was talking about a baby? No, I have a new puppy! It only feels like I have a baby! After years of rescuing senior dogs, I got a puppy. What was I thinking? Don’t get me wrong, I love her to death! But I had forgotten how demanding it is to have a puppy.

“It All Starts Out Oooh and Ahhh.(Quote from Jeff Goldblum’s character in the first Jurassic Park film.)

That adorable, little puppy you just had to hold at a pet adoption stand latched onto your heart. Before you even considered that your laid-back lifestyle wasn’t quite what the puppy had in mind, you were hooked!

So now, instead of leisurely watching TV with your feet up in the evenings, you’re hopping around the house trying to prevent puppy catastrophes, climbing behind furniture to rescue a favorite chew toy (or the pup itself), racing to the front door in pee-soaked pajamas, stepping on a squeaky toy along the way, and thinking about how nice it would be to just crawl into bed and sleep for 8 uninterrupted hours.

Your house has taken on a new look as well. Boxes and pillows block electric cords and cubbies where your puppy could potentially place itself in danger. Valuables are placed out of reach, and trashcans are up on chairs. Blankets and towels cover the furniture, and toys are scattered all over the floor. You just hope no one comes to visit.

Conversely, my new puppy has added “order” to my life, too. She keeps me on a schedule. We are up at 6 a.m. no matter how many potty times we had in the night. Breakfast is at 6:30 a.m., lunch is at 12:30 p.m., and dinner is at 6:30 p.m. And we have a potty schedule, too. We play in the late morning, late afternoon, and early evening. Nap time is from 8 a.m. until just before lunch, and again from 1:30 p.m. till around 3:30 p.m., and bedtime is at 8 p.m. – for her anyway.

“It Will Keep You Young,” They Said…

After sharing the news about my new puppy, several people responded with, “It will keep you young.” At first, I didn’t understand, but I’m catching on.

Experts say that regular physical activity is the key to staying young. I think that’s what they were referring to. I guess I have been getting a little lazy lately and am definitely moving a lot more since getting a puppy.

Rapid jumps in response to potential disasters are common for me nowadays. I’m pretty sure my core is getting stronger. I am stretching more – usually at weird angles (to reach for her under the bed or disentangle her from a twisted leash). And I have to say, it’s tough to maintain balance when my adorable furry companion gets super excited and pulls toward a big, unfamiliar dog while I’m trying to hold her back, pick up poop, and trying not to fall off the curb. You would be impressed by my lightening quick reactions to purge whatever unsafe (and rotten) thing she has picked up with her mouth. Yes, I’m definitely more active than I was BP (Before Puppy).

We go for walks, play fetch, chase each other, practice training drills, and learn tricks. It’s so important that a new puppy gets plenty of exercise, enrichment, socialization, and play. To be perfectly honest, I’m trying to wear her out. But what really happens is that I am the one that gets worn out!

“It Will Keep You Broke,” They Didn’t Say…

After the initial adoption fees, our little girl ran up quite the tab! The first purchase was a little tiny pink cat collar because she was so small (only five pounds), and a matching leash, of course. A few chew toys, the best food available, a brush and comb, puppy shampoo, pink food and water bowls, clean-up wipes, poop bags (also pink), and pee pads. Then, things got more expensive: We needed a car carrier, a playpen/crate, and her own fluffy, pink bed with a therapeutic mattress. The purchase of baby gates for the home was a must, too.

Then came the veterinarian expenses. Puppy wellness and vaccinations booster appointments can be costly. Add to that flea preventative, heartworm preventative, and whatever else your particular puppy may need. It’s not a time to skimp, though. Veterinarians are our best friends.

Let’s also not forget puppy training and socialization, which requires training treats and supplies.

The Costs Continue.

She’s a big girl now, and is four months old! She’s gone through two collars (with matching leashes, naturally). The first new collar was needed because she was growing so fast, and the kitty collar just wouldn’t do. (Yes, the new one is also pink.) And the second, a ridiculous harness, was tossed out because it was like lassoing a bull to get her in it.

She used her bed as a chew toy, so we are in the market for an indestructible fluffy, pink bed – and a larger one too. She’s growing fast.

You will need a new toothbrush and puppy toothpaste (because it’s never too early to start), nail clippers to keep her sharp, little claws from scratching you to pieces, and I would recommend some “New-Skin” for all the times she uses you as a chew toy. Word of advice: Don’t wear nice clothes around her. Those are fair game. She will be teething until she’s around six months old. Ugh.

What’s Next?

My puppy has long hair. She will need professional grooming at least every four-to-six weeks. She had her first “puppy grooming” appointment, which, as a nervous new Mom, went very well to my relief. Anyway, I need to add that monthly expense to my budget. The grooming price will vary, depending on the condition of her coat when I take her in. I’m good about brushing her, although, she thinks the brush is a toy, so it’s a challenge. But she can be quite the tomboy when she plays. She loves to roll around in grass and dirt, tromps through puddles, and run through those aggravating, sticky weeds that are hard to get out of her fur. Her beard is always filthy from sniffing around on the ground with a wet face. Groomers are going to love her.

Annual wellness checks and dental cleanings aren’t cheap either. Not to mention possible medications and/or treatments. I need to keep in mind that when she is between six-to-eight months old, I will need to get her spayed. According to The Dodo, dog spaying at a private veterinary hospital can cost anywhere from $320 to $550.

Preparing for a Puppy

Obviously, I am using humor to convey that getting a puppy is not a decision to be taken lightly. If you want to do it right – and you should – there are no shortcuts. It’s a huge time commitment and financial responsibility. And it’s for life, which generally ranges from 10 to 20 years for a dog.

There are many questions to ask yourself before getting a puppy. Do you have the time to devote to a new puppy? Are you away from home eight to 10 hours a day? Do you travel a lot? Can you manage a large, high-energy working breed, or is your lifestyle better suited for a smaller, companion dog? Is the entire family on board with getting a dog? No matter how cute your puppy is, puppy wrangling can be exhausting. Do you have the energy and the patience for it?

Fortunately, I work from home, so I can keep one eye on the puppy while working. While home, I am able to maintain her potty schedule so she will learn to go outside. If you have a full-time job outside of the home, it will be difficult to devote the time needed to not only make sure your pup is safe, but that it is getting the proper attention, exercise, and training. No one wants to leave a puppy in a crate all day.

Paying for A Puppy

Puppies are expensive and need a lot of things. Some things are pricey, as I’ve mentioned. And for the first year, they’ll grow out of nearly everything, so much of it has to be replaced.

According to, in 2023, the upfront costs for new dog parents may range from $1,135 to $5,155. Annual costs for the essentials, from dog food and toys to flea medicine, range from $610 on the low end and $3,555 on the high end. Lastly, the optional extras cost most dog parents between $1,390 and $4,095 per year. And I don’t have to tell you how expensive things keep getting, right?

Have I Made the Wrong Decision?

I’ll admit, there have been times when I questioned my sanity regarding getting a puppy. Those days when I’m so tired I can’t even form a coherent sentence; or when I find myself juggling tasks with one hand, while entertaining the puppy with the other; or when I just want to go to bed, and she is getting her second (or third – or fourth) wind.

The AKC sums it up perfectly: “Being a responsible dog owner… often requires putting your dog’s needs first and making sure that you are providing your pet with the best possible life. Sometimes, that means changing your plans to do what’s best for your dog.” It’s a sacrifice, of sorts, and you need to be willing to make it.

Is Getting a Puppy Worth It?

Did I tell you about those tender little kisses and that sweet puppy breath? Or how amazing it feels to hold that warm, soft, little ball of fur in my arms? Did I mention how she makes me laugh more than I have in years? I can’t even express how it feels when she adoringly gazes at me with those precious, soulful eyes. Or how gratifying it is to watch her learn and grow more confident each day. Do you know how happy it makes me to witness the pure joy of watching her run and play with abandon? Did I tell you how my heart swells when she eagerly comes to me when I call her name, or greets me at the door like she hasn’t seen me in years?

Yes, it’s all worth it.

Holiday Barn Pet Resorts Can Help

We love puppies at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts and have the knowledge and expertise to make that first year with your puppy a successful one.

I can’t tell you how beneficial professional training is for your puppy. Many of the issues you deal with in that first year of puppyhood can be alleviated when you and your puppy develop a method of understanding each other. Our Professional Dog Trainers will help you and your puppy establish a bond while teaching your puppy good manners and basic behaviors. Training is also great for socializing your puppy, which is so important while they are still young. Puppies usually begin our training program at three to four months old, as long as they are current on age-appropriate vaccinations and cleared by their veterinarian. Our trainers can start helping owners with puppies through at-home lessons well before the three-to-four-month mark, sometimes as soon as the puppy comes to its new home.

After your puppy has been fully vaccinated, usually around 16 weeks old, you can send them to Dog Day Care where they will learn to play safely with other dogs their size. Some prior obedience training for your puppy is a great idea before they attend Dog Day Care. Obedience will help your puppy better understand a structured environment and will help our staff communicate with them more effectively. Puppies must be spayed or neutered once they have reached six months of age to attend Dog Day Care.

Staycations for Puppies

Need a break? If your puppy is too young for Dog Day Care, bring them in for a Staycation while you take a day off to lay by the pool or catch up on sleep! We will help your puppy feel safe, comfortable, and happy while away from home. During their stay, we can schedule one-on-one playtimes with an activity counselor and add in some enrichment fun. Your puppy can rest in a beautiful home-like suite with their own familiar bedding and enjoy a delicious kong-filled treat for their sore teeth and gums. A staycation is a great precursor to longer stays when you and your family vacation or need to be away from your dog for any length of time.

If you would like more information about our how Holiday Barn Pet Resorts can help you and your puppy, please contact us in Midlothian by calling (804) 794-5400. For our Glen Allen location, call (804) 672-2200.

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