anne_mikolay_120I'm a very practical, analytical person, and do not make snap decisions. Two months ago, however, I broke character and impulsively brought home a puppy. I had no idea what I was in for!

I very quickly learned that a puppy is far more than a cute face. A puppy is a furry baby, and like all babies, needs to be taught boundaries and acceptable behavior. Teddy, our new addition, was a surprisingly full-time responsibility. For the first two weeks, in an effort to house-train Teddy, I slept on the sofa beside his crate, and woke him up every two hours to bring him to his piddle pads. While Teddy absorbed the general idea, he still has the occasional accident. Lesson learned: puppies require infinite amounts of patience. (And if you don't want to clean stains off your rug, or mop up the occasional puddle on the kitchen floor, do not bring home a puppy!)

A puppy has highly expensive needs! Teddy needed a crate, a crate pillow, piddle pads, a bed, toys, food, more piddle pads, shots, a dog license, a harness and leash, heart-worm medication, and more piddle pads. Because of Teddy, I learned a whole lot more than I wanted to know about intestinal parasites. When Teddy was diagnosed with giardia, a common condition in new puppies, it took two rounds of costly medication to cure him.

It sounds like a given, but puppies chew. I mean they chew everything! Luckily for me, Teddy didn't eat the furniture, but he gnawed everything else he could get his paws and teeth on: piddle pads, toilet paper, tissues, newspaper, blankets, the rug, my son's sociology homework, my slippers, my robe, my fingers. Puppies nip painfully hard (though the teeth impressions on my fingers look more like bite marks to me), and exhibit definite minds of their own.

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Teddy

I was totally unprepared for the chaos Teddy wreaked upon my home, and the life of my eight year old chihuahua. Teddy, also a chi, clearly demonstrated that dogs, even those of the same breed, don't necessarily hit it off right away.

Fast forward two months, and the lessons learned have changed.

Patience and diligence pay off. I know now with 100% certainty that my decision to bring Teddy into our family was the right one. We adore him. We love him. He is definitely our little guy. The most important thing he has taught us is that a puppy can bring joy, comedy, laughter, and deep love into a family. A puppy is an extreme commitment that should definitely not be taken lightly, but if you are willing to accept and muddle through the temporary disruption in your routine and your household, if you apply flexibility and knowledge, and invest time, effort, and love into the puppy, and most importantly, willingly accept responsibility for this creature's very existence, then a puppy is a wonderful gift you can give to yourself and your family. A puppy is unconditional love.

And isn't that life's greatest lesson?