Wow, has it really been 3 weeks since my last post? I assure you this blog is not abandoned or dead yet! Regular posting will be back soon!
If you haven’t seen my instagram update (I’m slightly more alive over on instagram than here) we recently had a new addition to the family!
… Milk Tea!!! Please don’t ask me if her name is in English or Chinese. Or English or Japanese. If it were Nai Cha or Miruku Tee I would have introduced her that way. It’s so strange how many times I received this question! I know being quadrilingual (going pentalingual) is a pretty amazing thing, but no need to show off for me lol.
And yes, she’s the main reason why I’ve been absent from blogging, and most other things T_T I’m going to attempt to sum up where the past weeks have gone. A good part of it are rants though. Brace yourselves.
Week 1: The Great Fall from Excitement to Reality
We were very excited about finally bringing her home. We searched for a puppy for weeks upon weeks. And we finally found her.
They didn’t allow us to bring her home (even though we already fully paid for her, filled out all the paperwork, bought everything) because she had the sniffles and they wanted to keep her until her condition stabilizes.
When we finally brought her home 3 days later, we were so amazed by this tiny ball of cuteness!
And then reality swiftly kicked us in the face.
Enter the dreaded word: Housebreaking.
She would pee/poop correctly one moment, fail the next. Succeed consecutively 3 times, fail the next 5 times. There was once Fu cleaned up her mistakes 6 times in a single day! Who knew such a small thing had so much in her -_-
As recommended, we confined her to a small area so as to make housebreaking easier, but even so it seemed like it was going to take a long, long time. I mentally prepared myself for this before getting a dog, but whatever I expected, was a thousandfold more intense in real life.
I’ve camped outside her cage endlessly while waiting for her to pee so that I can praise her (and she’ll learn the correct place to pee), but she has a knack of holding her pee for hourse! Jeebeezus! Aren’t 8 week old puppies supposed to be able to hold for 2 hours max? This one can hold for far longer than that! AND THEN, she will sneakily ninja-pee when we aren’t looking -_-
By the end of the week, I’ve cleaned enough pee and poop to last me a lifetime! And her poop in the first week was the wet, sticky kind (sick + stress of adapting to new environment). Sinking into every grid of her pee pad, which we then have to disassemble and wash. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Fun, eh?
Add to that the fact that she’s in the teething stage so she tends to bite everything. That is fine, if not for the fact even when I’m holding a toy, she zeroes in and lunges at my hand. I read tons of books and articles and nothing, NOTHING seems to be able to detract her off my hand aka most delicious thing in the world to her -_- It wasn’t that painful (yet), but it was extremely annoying because there was barely any other way to interact with her without her mouthing everything.
When we left her alone for the first time on the 4th day (Fu had work and I had class), I came home to pee and poop on the floor, which she trod on and smeared all over the entire pen area. Have you tried getting dried up poop caked into hair, all while the puppy struggles like you’re about to butcher her? Well, it’s a fine character builder, and you will have tons of scratch marks to wear as badges of honor.
After battling her at cleaning, I then have to balance her on one hand while I clean the pee and poop stained area with the other hand since I have no place to keep her while I clean out the area. Brilliant for patience and balance training.
Then after FINALLY cleaning everything, I put her back and she proceeds to scream at the top of her lungs for a good hour. It’s like punishing me for leaving her alone at home -_-
The thoughts that kept going through my mind the week were: “I should have gotten an adult dog instead. I will never get another puppy again. Never.” “Did I really give up my freedom for this?”
The only small consolation to the havoc was that from the first night, she slept quietly in the living room when we turned in for the day. From all the reading, I was expecting crying or whining for at least the first week, but she was did surprisingly well.
They said having a puppy was supposed to be fun. We must have mistakenly bought another animal instead. BECAUSE FUN IS THE LAST THING I’M FEELING. I think what they meant is: Puppies are cute IF THEY ARE NOT YOURS.
I wondered how I was going to last till she grew out of the baby stage. One week felt like a year already. And I have to do this for at least several more months?!
Honestly though, the first week, I felt like she was nothing more than a mindless ball of hair that is just mouth, pee, and poop. And I was not in the right state of mind (too exhausted – waking hours ahead than what I’m used to – and injured; you will not believe the scratch and bite marks I suffered) to enjoy the “joy of owning a puppy”. We also agreed that the day we decide to have children is the day we become completely insane. After this puppy experience, I have mad respect for people with children. You good parents deserve all the medals in the world.
Week 2: Breakdown and Hope
Housebreaking and teething
She kept up with her success/failure toileting rates (about 60% correct) and her mouthing was starting to get worse. The frequency is the same, that is, every single time -_- but her teeth are growing out and getting bigger and they are starting to hurt. Imagine a mouth full of tiny sharp needles clamming down on your skin at every chance!
Marking inappropriate behavior
But I still had no way of even conveying to her that I don’t like her behaviour. I tried everything I’ve ever read: doing ouch & ignore, drawing up to my full height and clipping out a stern and firm NO, jerking her collar (but with appropriate strength), putting her in the timeout box, nothing seems to work! She’s basically fearless. Some puppies are afraid of loud sounds? This one ignores them and can even sleep through them all. For a while we were wondering if there was a problem with her hearing but she can pick up the sound of our key turning in the door so it quickly extinguished our suspicions.
She’s starting to remember us and starts to cry/whine the MOMENT we step out of sight, when she didn’t give two hoots the first week. Needless to say, this was the start of cries and barks.
Instead of showing submissive behavior, she instead retaliates by jumping and barking. There was once I lost it and screamed at her. I have never yelled like that or gotten so angry in my life before. After that, I felt so depressed and ashamed. Did I just yell at a puppy like that? She’s just a baby! What kind of terrible monster am I? I was seeing the worst of myself and I hated it.
I wanted to be patient. To be kind. To be firm but loving. To have her respect me. But in that situation, in that moment, I somehow just transformed into something I couldn’t control. I was at my wits end and even cried out of frustration.
I finally found a small glimmer of hope in the form of this thing called bitter apple. Whenever I have to mark her for doing something inappropriate, I will let her have a small taste of it and she really dislikes it. I FINALLY FOUND THE FIRST THING MS DAUNTLESS DISLIKES! For the record, I tasted it for myself and it’s bitter as heck but not harmful (it’s been used for decades as a deterrent for dogs).
It cut down the mouthing dramatically by about 90% and it’s my lifesaver!!!
And then, we did something that was the best $20 spent EVER. She was constantly peeing at a SPECIFIC spot so what we did was buy a second pee pad, placed it there, and VOILA. Pee accidents instantly down to almost zero! Yeah, I know it’s not the best thing to do, but at that moment, it was all we can do to recover our sanity.
This was a week where I reflected on my life’s choices and wondered what the shit I got myself into. Quite literally too -_- Some ups and downs but I finally feel hopeful for the first time since she came home with us.
Week 3: Settling in
With the major issues of the previous weeks finally reducing in severity, I finally could tackle other issues.
Apparently it is best to introduce the puppy to all sorts of things before they turn 12 weeks, and time was ticking away. The stupidest thing is that I cannot bring her out until she’s fully vaccinated, which would be when she’s 16 weeks! FML.
So I would carry her and stand on the balcony, letting her see the sun, feel the wind, take in the different sights and sounds.
I used Youtube to show her other dogs (she would bark at the screen at first! lol), Fu and I would wear different disguises (hat, sunglasses) and do different things (suddenly talking loudly, in a strange voice, dancing – she was startled by me lol. is my dancing that horrid?!)
We did the best we could so just gotta hope it’s enough to prep her for the future!
Do I sound like some overanxious parent? LOL.
First vet visit
And then, came the day for her second shot.
She was fine until she met other dogs. She was barking at them but wagging her tail. At first I thought she wanted to play, but then when I read up on it, I realized that wagging tails can also be a sign of anxiety. So I’m still not sure how she feels about other dogs.
The vet did a checkup on her and she weighed 900g, twice the weight from the first day we saw her!
Didn’t manage to take her shot in the end though cause she still had a slight cold.
I put the lead on her for the first time and she froze in place, afraid to even breathe too hard lol
Finally, things are starting to look up! And I finally feel like I have a puppy! Lol. She’s starting to learn commands and new things and it’s starting to be fun. We still clean up pee and poopy mistakes though, but the occurrences have greatly decreased. It’s not so much she learned where to do her business. Rather, we made it near impossible to fail. The pen is 90% toilet pad, 10% heat pad (for cold nights). Set your puppy up for success and all that, right?!
Week 4 – Week 6 (present)
Lately it’s more of training her and teaching her what is acceptable and not. Which involves lots of watching her like a hawk. Sometimes entire days just pass by without me realizing it! My time is divided into:
- Prepare her lunch
- Clean her face
- Watch her
- Train/play with her
- Be quiet and stay in my seat so she can sleep (she wakes up the moment I stand up)
- Watch her
- Train/play with her
- Prepare her dinner
- Clean her face
Of course, insert lots of poop picking and butt cleaning in between.
Some other interesting things that happened during this time:
I was sitting at my desk with her in my arms when she suddenly started growling and barking. I was confused but found the source of her discomfort:
Another vet visit
Taking her second shot, for reals. She took her shot like a champ. In fact, she didn’t even realize the needle was in until the vet took it out haha. She also gained 100g in one week! Is that a lot?
This is what shell-shocked means
Usually when we are preparing her food, she will be extremely excited and run up and down her pen.
On this fine day, I was preparing her food and when I walked over to her pen, saying “Here’s your foo………” I literally stopped dead in my tracks and could do nothing but stare. (and then reach for my phone to take the following picture)
In case you can’t see, some shit was even flung out of the pen because of her vigorous running.
I spent the next two hours cleaning her up. TWO HOURS, I KID YOU NOT.
She was so coated with shit it’s impossible to make do with just wiping her down with wet tissues, like we usually do. Technically, we were advised not to bathe her till all her shots were over (it wasn’t yet then) but I had no freaking choice.
I bathed her for the first time by myself.
She fought me while I was washing her.
She fought me again when I was trying to towel dry her.
She put on her best fight and scratched/bit me to near death when I was trying to blow dry her. She was shivering from the cold but fighting the very thing that can help stop the cold!!! UGHHH.
After battling her, I still had to clean up the shit-filled pen. It was freaking smelly and gross can!!! I had to dig out all the shit stuck and dried in the grids of the pee pad. One by one. On TWO pee pads. OH MY LORD. Why do they make the grids so damn tiny anyway?! FML.
To date, that’s my most mortifying experience taking care of her. I hope this one will top the list forever. I don’t think my heart is strong enough to endure a greater ordeal.
As you can see, I’ve been through a lot these few weeks. Things are getting better though, although we still have so much to work on. Yeah, in a sense, I brought it upon myself, but that’s not the point. Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually mad to give up my awesome freedom for this. But I tell myself it will be better once she becomes an adult. That’s when it will be all worth it. I just have to make sure I remain alive/sane until then hahaha.
What I learned from all of this: Raising a puppy is not for the weak of heart.
If I knew then what I know now, I most definitely wouldn’t have gotten a puppy. I may not even have gotten a dog. But we’re here now and we’ve just got to do the best we can. Please, Milk Tea, work with me ok!
p.s.: Milk Tea has her own instagram account! She’s been quite tardy on updating though, tsk tsk.
Bonus video of Milk Tea playing when she was 9 weeks old: