How getting my first dog changed my life
I have had a dog with my wife for three years now. I am in my late twenties and I have never had a dog before but I have always liked dogs. Having had a dog for three years now has had a major impact on my life as a whole in a very good way.
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I grew up in a pretty sterile environment. Our home was always clean and my mom was very strict about keeping things that way. I never really thought about having a dog as a kid but now as I look back I am pretty sure that having a dog growing up would have been a great thing for me.
Getting my first dog
Getting a dog was never really something I personally had considered before but after getting married to my wife it started to become quite obvious that we would be getting a dog soon.
My wife had grown up with a dog of her own who had passed away in her early adult years. She had been busy with her work and studies and hadn’t really had a chance to get a new dog afterward.
Now that we had started to settle down a little bit she started selling me the idea of getting a dog together.
Learning and studying
I had always liked dogs but considered myself more of a cat person honestly. My wife still at the time had her childhood cat with her living with us but she was getting old and it was a matter of time before her time would come.
We started preparing for getting a dog when my wife had her work and school in such a good shape that she would have enough time with my help to start seriously thinking about getting our first dog together.
I was already done with my studies and was doing full-time software development in a small local webshop. My wife bought some books and provided some online resources quite a bit in preparation for getting our first dog together.
Every dog has pretty much the same basic needs but the special care each dog requires depends heavily on the breed.
Every dog has basic needs which can be boiled down to food, water, sleep and exercise.
Choosing the breed
Choosing the breed for a dog is probably the biggest thing to consider after committing to the idea of getting a dog. Different breeds have different requirements and for us specifically, we wanted the dog to be capable of matching our active lifestyle.
We knew we wanted a dog that could easily handle long hikes in the wilderness and which could potentially do well in some dog sports if we were ever to do any.
We didn’t want to get too small of a dog and not too big either so size-wise we wanted to get a mid-sized dog.
We also made quite a bit of research on getting a healthy breed with not too much breeding done in the history of the breed.
After having these main points working as the base for choosing the breed we decided that we wanted to get a Lapponian herder. A historical primitive breed developed by the Sami people which has been used for herding reindeer in Finnish Lapland for centuries.
This breed wasn’t suggested for first-time dog takers and is considered quite a difficult breed to manage in general. They can be very opinionated, are considered very smart and intelligent as well as quite thick-headed. “Just like we are” - we thought.
Everyone should consider what type of dog they would want. We were looking for a healthy and active mid-sized dog and decided to get a Lapponian herder.
Preparing for dog life
Our lives were in a pretty good place when we started seriously considering getting a dog. We knew we were ready financially and that we would have enough time to take care of our dog once he or she would arrive. We had done our studying and research and were ready for starting to contact potential breeders in our country.
Finding a good breeder was also very important to us. We wanted to find a qualified breeder who had a good experience in growing the breed we wanted to get. We quite quickly found a nice breeder who was preparing for an upcoming litter.
We had many discussions about our life and our expectations and the breeder’s life and their ideologies etc. All this is to build a common understanding that both parties are on the same grounds when giving a new puppy the life they deserve.
We were talking with the potential breeder of our dog for a long time before getting our first dog.
Committing to a new lifestyle
We had settled on a pickup date for a specific puppy from the litter. We had chosen a puppy who seemed the most active at the time. A puppy who had been the first one to crawl out of its nest after being born and who was always running around like there was no tomorrow.
The dates matched perfectly and my summer vacation had just started when we went to pick up our puppy. Breeder had taken very good care of the litter and our puppy and they seemed quite emotional to let our puppy go.
We were now officially owners of our first puppy who was around two months old male Lapponian herder. We gave him the name Isku, which means strike in Finnish.
Look at this little potato.
Becoming a good dog owner
From the get-go, I approach having a dog as if I would be having a baby, which ironically was what some of our friends were getting into at the time. My wife and I wanted to make sure that we would provide our dog with a good home and a happy life.
At first, everything is new even for my wife who had already owned a dog but it was a long time ago when her first dog had been a puppy. It all starts with the fundamentals like making sure that he dog always pees outside and learns their place in your home etc.
We started trying to teach Isku some basic commands from a very early age. Isku was a very playful puppy who loved sticks, stones cones and other earthly toys. He didn’t really mind all the nice toys we had bought him beforehand.
Looking back into the very early days of getting my first dog I would say that getting a lot of photos of him is important as the puppy phase goes by pretty quickly. Then it’s just. About being patient with the puppy and just being there for them.
Puppies grow so fast that it is important to take a lot of photos of the puppy during that wonderful puppy period.
Building trust with my dog
I am definitely not a professional dog anything, but what I think matters a lot in building up your relationship with your dog is trust. I think trust is everything and that it is something that is not very easy to build. Even to this day I do not take for granted the trust and loyalty I have from my dog and always try to value what I have.
Building trust with your dog comes down to some very fundamental factors which I think are important. To me these are: providing food and shelter, keeping the dog active, leading and trusting one another. It takes time to narrow down all the key elements that are required to build a good and healthy relationship with your dog. Over time hard things become easier and that trust is getting stronger and stronger.
The most important thing however I think is love and understanding. I never overlook myself over my dog and I always appreciate what he has in his mind and what he needs. My dog reads me like an open book and can always sense how I feel. If I am grumpy or stressed out from work or something, my dog can definitely sense it.
Dogs can learn many things through a trusting relationship.
Fulfilling my dog’s need
Every dog has their basic needs which can be narrowed down to food, water, sleep and exercise. These are the basic things that need to be taken care of each and every day. There is no off day when having a dog. A dog is part of the family and requires care and attention every day.
Getting a new best friend
The best thing about a dog is that once you provide them everything they need they eventually start giving back in multiples. That trust that you build and the care you provide will lead to some great friendship and loyalty which cannot be valued in wealth or money.
You cannot force your dog to love and trust you. It is something you build over time. It is the best feeling when your dog comes to you when they are scared of something or comes to you with their favorite toy when they want to play.
After each meal I provide my dog he always finds me after he has eaten and comes to say thank you in his own funny way. Every morning and every night we have a routine we do before going to sleep or before we wake up. We basically spend a few minutes saying either good night or good morning.
My dog is my best friend.
Always happy to do things together
We got the most active puppy from the litter. We love our dog a lot, but if and when we get our next dog it is definitely going to be the lazy one. Our first dog Isku hasn’t to this day ever shown any signs of running out of energy. When we go for a hike, run or just play he is always 100% focused and dedicated to whatever we are doing. When we are finished and he has been able to go all out, he is the most relaxed dog I have ever seen. He is either on or off, which is something we were looking for in our first dog.
A friend to share things with
Especially now that COVID has forced me to do full weeks of work remotely, I couldn’t imagine my workdays without my dog. He allows me to get my mind off work and have decent breaks during the workday and after my day is over he always makes sure we go for a long walk or a hike to a trail or to a forest.
Isku always helps with yard work, goes fishing with me, cooks with me and watches TV with me. There are really very few things that come to mind these days that would include my dog as part of it. Maybe hockey during wintertime.
Doing things with your dog builds trust and your relationship with them.
I never really thought that getting a dog would have such a big impact on me. Getting a dog has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I am very grateful for having a new best friend who always loves and plays with me no matter what.