The days leading up to getting our dog were exciting. Last minute phone calls to organise a rendez-vous with the breeder, calls with Antibes vet Dr Gittins, making room at home for the new baby … I really had no idea that the higher the hype climbed, so it would soon plunge an equal distance into balls of sadness.
Admittedly, I didn’t read up on raising a dog. The booklet I referred to in an earlier entry, Before you get your puppy, sent to me considerately by my brother-in-law, was supposed to be read before bringing the dog home. If I had done so, I probably would have mentally prepared myself for the tornado of a puppy that landed in our apartment.
The first morning after bringing Crousti home (after a night filled with gut wrenching puppy cries from the crate), my husband woke up at 5:30am. Startled, it was a Sunday after all, I questioned his movements. “He’s a puppy. He needs to go outside.” Wait a minute, back up here. You mean to tell me that we have to get up forever and a day at 5:30am? No more sleeping in on weekends? “What can I say?” he replied. “He’s just a puppy.” I lay there sulking while they went downstairs to the street, and eventually thought, okay, early mornings won’t be that bad.
We spent that first day playing with the puppy and the one toy we bought from the breeder known lovingly as “Duck”, chasing the dog with Wee-Wee pads (see The dreaded deed of housetraining) and calling family to announce the latest addition to our family. That next night was the same. From his crate, lots of yelps and cries, and truth be told, from my side of the bed, too, as I listened. But my husband stayed strong and didn’t let him out of the crate or pay me any attention. Monday morning, the whole family is up at 5:30am and my better half, after taking Crousti out for his morning business, left for work.
Here are two key points in understanding why I got so depressed: 1/ After 11 years at my job, I finally was working from home full-time (which is part of the reason we were able to get a dog, to have someone home most of the time) and I loved it. No more morning commutes or fighting to find parking at the end of the day. I am a very disciplined person and this was the life for me. Or it was, in its short-lived glory. Now I found myself left alone with a little fella and no real clue what to do, other than take him out to eliminate his breakfast, and play fetch (a game, which I later learned, only encourages biting) with Duck. 2/ Every day leading up to Crousti’s arrival, I absolutely loved my life and thought I was the luckiest person on the planet. I told my Mom on the phone (yes, I really do speak with her everyday) how happy I was. That exhilaration was crushed and replaced quickly by an overwhelming sadness. But I didn’t know why.
I walked the puppy four or five times a day, short neighbourhood jaunts which took much longer than they should have as either people stopped to yell at me or pet him. Once back in the apartment, it was absolute chaos. Why didn’t someone tell me how much attention puppies need? I was in tears, as I couldn’t sit in front of the computer for more than five minutes without canine mischief brewing. To his credit, when Crousti was told “no” he did not repeat the offensive act. He’s a smart pup, but there was a whole apartment for him to discover.
I was very much aware that I was “unhappy”. Even though the dog was being crate trained, I couldn’t leave the apartment for more than 2 hours because he’d have to pee, which, odd as it may sound, I resented as I felt my life now revolved around the needs of a pup. I didn’t discuss this with anyone because I was embarrassed. What kind of person doesn’t love a cuddly little puppy? What’s wrong with me? How is that I could move countries and start a new life in France, or interview Tom Cruise on a TGV to Marseille or become a French citizen, but I could not wrap my head around a sweet little 3 kilogram ball of fluff? And there was no turning back.
Obviously my husband bore the brunt of my puppy crisis but was at a loss on how to make things better. Together we looked up stuff online about how to deter biting, for example, and he agreed to get up half an hour earlier to take care of the dog so I get a few work things done before he left. These things really helped but it wasn’t until I finally confided in a friend about how I was feeling, that I learned about Post Puppy Depression. She told me she experienced it, and that there are forums dedicated to people going through the same thing.
I spend a great deal of time in front of my computer but am not someone who spends hours surfing the net (is that even how they say it these days?). I don’t have a Facebook account. Forums are bit of an oddity to me. I Googled Post Puppy Depression, and came across quite a few sites where other dog owners discussed the same feelings. “Please tell me it gets easier” “… I am at my wits end. My husband and I are beginning to think that we made a grave error with our bringing home our puppy. I get little more than 5 hours sleep per night and am exhausted … I literally run after her in the small confined play room because of her need to chew on EVERYTHING …” “ … despair or regret. No matter how prepared you are and no matter how much you wanted and planned for your puppy, at some point, you will probably have these feelings or thoughts.”
This reassured me, especially when I read, “Enjoy the energy of a puppy. When he’s older and only wants to sleep all day, you’ll miss those earlier play times.” So I just accepted the fact that he wasn’t going to be like this forever, and the best way for me to maintain sanity was to stick to a routine with him (which he loves), continue to crate train him and make him an independent dog, and to have lots of toys around for him to chew. Fortunately we didn’t have a dog with behavioural problems that require outside training; just 100% cuteness. The PPD only lasted a month or so (I’m sure my husband could give a more accurate timeframe!) and today I’m back to being my old happy-and-in-love-with-life self. Yes, Crousti has changed my life and to a certain extent my schedule, but I can live with that because that’s nothing compared to all that great stuff he brings to my life. And if I have to be a little selfish, so be it. We’re a family that all have to live under one roof.
Mostly it made me realise that all woman should have children, and at an early age, like in my mom’s generation. That way when we reach early forties, we are so busy and preoccupied with our kids’ lives, we don’t have time to self-wallow or dissect all the things that we “feel”. I’m sure my husband would agree with the latter.