I first became a dog mom almost four years ago.
Never having grown up with pets and not having any children at this point, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
I knew that having a dog would be fun, and I knew it would be work, but I didn’t know it would be so much work.
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From the loyal and unwavering devotion of Lassie to the heartwarming adventures of Lady and the Tramp, pop culture has celebrated the joy and companionship that comes with being a dog mom.
In this article, we dive into the wonderful world of being a dog mom, exploring this role’s rewards, responsibilities, and life lessons.
So, grab a leash, snuggle up with your pup, and join us on this educational journey filled with wagging tails, wet noses, and endless love.
Bringing Home Hammer
We adopted Hammer from a shelter in Yakima, WA, where he and several brothers and sisters were surrendered after the lady that bred them couldn’t get them all sold.
A 50/50 mix of purebred German Shepherd and American Staffordshire Terrier, he was a handsome, intelligent, and loving boy from day one.
He was also pretty obedient (as obedient as a 3-month-old puppy with no training could be, anyway).
While he was your typical energetic, rambunctious, and mischievous puppy, it was evident that he was a good boy and eager to please us.
Hammer came into our lives at kind of the perfect time.
I was working from home so I could spend the days with him, doing the beginning basics of obedience training.
It was also early summer in Montana, which meant several months of nice weather, which was great for practicing housetraining.
All the conditions seemed right, but having a puppy was hard despite the perfect timing.
The First Few Months
We started crate training right off the bat.
He spent many nights whining in his crate, and because he was so young, he needed several bathroom breaks throughout the night.
After bringing him home, we immediately got much less sleep, which made my husband and I both stressed and irritable.
Hammer wanted to play constantly (between his puppy crash naps that only lasted 20-30 minutes at a time).
And because he was a strong chewer from the get-go, there weren’t many toys we could give him without having to watch like a hawk that he didn’t swallow bits of string, stuffing, or squeakers.
We also had to watch that he wasn’t chewing on non-toys in general, so I was his eagle-eyed play companion for many hours of the day.
I remember that whenever I would try to stop playing with him so I could, you know, get something done, he would follow me around and just stare at me.
Like he was saying, “Now what? What are we doing now? How are you preparing to entertain me?”
We thought we could get his energy out through physical exercise (which was false).
So, at that point, Hammer got three walks a day, sometimes more, and regularly played fetch in the yard.
My life was consumed with taking care of him.
Frankly, it was exhausting being a new dog mom.
And I spent the first 12-ish weeks that he was with us seriously regretting our decision.
Many days, I was in tears, thinking, “Why did we do this to ourselves?”
I felt like I had no time to do the work I needed to do or just to relax and enjoy the short Montana summer.
I truly felt miserable.
It even caused many fights between my husband and me.
He was at work all day, not seeing or feeling what it was like to have something at your heels every second of the day, needing you and begging for your attention.
The only short reprieves I had gave me enough time to pee and shove some food in my face before the needy thing was awake again.
I would blame my husband for my misery since he was, after all, the one who “wanted to get a dog” and then (in my eyes) wasn’t doing enough to take care of him.
Truthfully, we both felt like we were the only ones caring for the dog.
That’s how enormous of a job the puppy was.
Being a dog mom is not for the faint of heart!
Slowly but Surely
We were both just waiting for the day when things with Hammer would feel easier, but it was slow going.
As he grew, he became slightly more independent (but barely).
We installed several dog doors in our home so he could take himself outside, which helped, although, in the middle of the night, he would still wake us and refuse to go out unless we went with him.
We also got him into a local obedience training program, making our lives much easier.
His German Shepherd blood made him very intelligent and eager to have tasks to complete, so he excelled in his classes and enjoyed the mental challenge, which helped drain his energy.
But as he got bigger, a whole new set of problems arose.
We quickly learned that, one: he liked to chase things (cars, people on bikes, cats, rabbits, etc.), and two: he could jump.
He easily cleared the four-foot fence surrounding our yard by six months old.
This was a huge problem.
Whenever a car drove down the alleyway that butts up against our backyard, he was over the fence in two seconds flat.
We had a fully fenced yard and put him on a leash to take him outside whenever he had to pee.
It was a dog mom nightmare.
So, while we weren’t expecting to use every cent of our covid stimulus money for a new, taller fence to surround our over half-acre yard, we waved goodbye to all the other plans we had for that money and put in a 6-foot fence.
Over time (after about nine months to a year), things with Hammer started to feel noticeably easier over time.
He was a lot older in dog years and had mellowed a bit.
We learned that we needed to keep him active mentally and physically to have a tired boy that would just lay on the couch with us at the end of the day.
The money for the classes, the fence, and the 18,000 “strong chewer” balls we bought him started to pay off.
Looking back on it, we all grew together.
He taught us how to be better dog parents while we taught him how to be a better dog.
Being a dog mom is a Lot Like Having A Kid
As it turns out, being a dog mom is much like being a kid mom.
At first, it feels like a soul-crushing job that makes you question your fortitude and will to live.
But over time, it gets easier and becomes a source of joy in your life.
After you come to terms with the fact that someone else will always come before you, accept that most of your time and money no longer belongs to you, and get your second wind for the endless task of caring for feeding, and cleaning up after another living thing, it doesn’t seem so bad anymore.
They get older, you get better at your job, and things get easier.
You worry about them just as much as you worry about a kid too.
About their health, their comfort, and their happiness.
Is he eating enough?
Why does he seem sad today?
Am I doing enough for him?
Has he pooped today?
What did his poop look like?
But, just like having a kid, along with worries, you get an endless supply of love, laughter, and joy.
The Best Thing About Being a Dog Mom
One great thing about having a dog is that you get enjoyment from seeing them have fun.
You feel fulfilled when you can tell they are happy.
Hammer will run back and forth along our fence in anticipation of a car he hears coming down the alley.
After the car passes, he stands there, tail wagging, for a minute or two until it’s entirely out of his view, and then turns around and looks across the yard at us with the most proud and satisfied look on his face.
He protected the backyard and everything in it and is convinced he is the toughest, most badass dog ever.
He does this multiple times a day, and even after four years, it still fills our hearts with glee to see him get satisfaction in doing something he loves.
Being a dog mom is a sacrifice
Of time, money, sleep, and sometimes favorite shoes or throw pillows.
It’s a sacrifice of the self.
But often, sacrifice is a great teacher.
It teaches patience, generosity, acceptance, and unconditional love.
What I love most about being a dog mom is that I am made better by it.
My soul is schooled in the highest virtues through my sacrifice for my dog.
Not only that, but during my soul education, I am rewarded with an adorable, funny, cuddly, and unconditionally loving companion that brings light to my days.
Knowing everything I know now, never again will I not be a dog mom.
It is one of the greatest joys of my life.
If you are looking for a dog for your family, start here.
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