As you might have noticed. I have a dog. Her name is Riley and she is the cutest little mut ever. I say mutt because she’s a total mix of everything and everyone tells me she looks like something different. Anyway, I wanted to write a blog post about Riley and how much I completely struggled when I first got her. But before I get into that I want to first say I LOVE MY DOG. She is adorable and perfect and I am so glad that she’s in my life now, but man it took some time.
Ever since I was little I was determined that the moment I moved out I would get a dog and that’s exactly what happened. I moved out on January 12th and got my dog January 20th (sorry Katelyn). I had been visiting a ton of shelters over the weekend and I was very adamant that I was going to find my perfect dog. I wanted a dog with energy to do things, but could be chill at home and 100% would not bark. Finding her was truly a movie moment. I was about to leave The AZ Humane Society when suddenly she ran up to me in her kennel. I hadn’t seen her the entire time I was there and when I went to check her sheet she didn’t have one. Turns out she had only been on display for 2 hours and they hadn’t even gotten her sheet printed. She was visiting with another family when we came back out but luckily they weren’t the right fit for her. I met her and fell in love right away. She wasn’t barking (!!) she was happy and running around and I just knew she was the one.
My mom and I brought her back to my apartment where she got to see her new home for the first time and meet Katelyn and my dad. Katelyn and I went to Petco and I panic bought everything I thought she was needed (including a $100 bed… don’t ask).
After the initial joy of bringing her home and getting her settled wore off the reality of owning a dog really hit. My family never had a dog because my dad was allergic. I knew next to nothing. The first week I had her was unfortunately an extremely busy week at work. Not only was she not sleeping because, hello new environment, but she was also diagnosed with a bad bout of kennel cough. This really put a giant wrench into my plan of sending her to “daycare” while I was at work. Thankfully my parents took her during the day and I had my cough-y puke-y baby girl at night.
The first 2 weeks were exhausting. It really made me realize what it meant to take care of another living thing. It felt like every second of everyday I was planning her next move. Had she eaten? When was the last time she went out? Was she entertained? Was that a cough? It was all consuming and I felt like there was zero room to worry about myself. I didn’t think I would ever be able to go out with friends again because who would be with Riley? I so deeply lost my sense of self when I first got Riley and there were many times I considered taking her back.
The (not so) Ugly
8 months later I look back and think how unprepared and dramatic I was being. I’ve learned how to balance keeping her happy while keeping me happy. It took me a long time to come to the realization that: people do this. They own dogs, they work, they come home and they live a normal life. She lives probably one of the most spoiled lives between me, my dad and my roommate. Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts I learned from all of this.
- DON’T get a dog the first week you move out. This should be obvious but like. Don’t do it.
- DO sign up for training classes ASAP. We started training classes the first Monday I got her. A special shoutout to PetSmart and my trainer Bryce because I wouldn’t have been able to make it through those first few months without trainer.
- DO socialize your rescue dog. Riley was classified as “couldn’t live with other dogs” when I first got her and that was really her only major downfall. She was really scared of dogs. I ended up taking her to Doggy Day Care at PetSmart a few times a week for the first few months and they worked WONDERS with her. Now she goes once a week and she can barley contain her excitement walking in the door.
- DON’T feel like you can’t leave your dog alone. Although it is good to be cautious and aware that they are in a new environment, don’t feel like you can’t go to the grocery store (like I did).
- DO get a dog, or any animal, at some point that is completely yours. It really does open your eyes when you are in service to another.
Getting a dog is way harder than anyone will ever tell you. Just another point to prove that just because everything is perfect on social media doesn’t mean it actually is.
Do you want to see more dog content? I have learned so much and have so much to share! Follow Riley on Instagram at @RileyTheDesertDog