How Getting A Puppy Has Impacted My Mental Health

When I say puppy, what images come into your mind first?

Cuddles on the sofa? Soft fluffy fur? A loving, loyal friend? Of course, having a puppy includes all of those things, however it is a big challenge too and something you don’t really read about.

On the 13th of June my boyfriend and I drove to collect our newest family member. Of course, I had done all of my research on cockapoos but I knew this was going to be like nothing I had ever done before. I had grown up with cats my whole life, but since going freelance I wanted to have someone at home who I could also get outdoors with me to keep me company. My boyfriend and I are fairly active people so we thought a dog would fit into our lifestyle well.

Dexter was 8 weeks old to the day when we collected him and from the moment I picked him up I fell so head over heels with him. Having a dog seemed pretty alien to me and it was 1000% times harder than having a kitten, that’s for sure!

Sleepless nights, pee, poop and chewing consumed my life. I was supposed to be building my freelance business but I couldn’t go 20 minutes without heaving to take Dex outside to avoid puddles on the floor. He had stomach issues when transitioning onto new food and to see him in discomfort was really difficult. For weeks I was bound to the house most of the time as he couldn’t go out on walks yet, and I started to feel jealous of my boyfriend going off to work every morning. Of course, whenever Dexter would look at me with his deep brown eyes and want to come up for a cuddle, it made it all worth it, but it really was a struggle at the start.

Does lack of sleep trigger your anxiety? It’s one of my biggest triggers and so the sleepless nights started to affect my anxiety and mood very quickly. I was being woken up between 04.30 and 06.00 every morning when Dexter decided it was time to get up. I would move downstairs to the sofa to sit with him to let my other half sleep, and this started to take a toll. My emotions were heightened and I found myself crying over the smallest of things.

One night when Dexter was crying downstairs I was laid in bed with my boyfriend and with tears streaming down my face I said to him “we have made a huge mistake, what do we do.” The challenge of looking after this sweet, innocent puppy seemed too much at times which made me feel guilty.

I felt like I was doing something wrong. I should be super happy, right? I then proceeded to search on Google how I was feeling and by surprise I found a lot of others talking about the puppy blues. I wasn’t alone! You always see the joy and cute parts of having a puppy, but the hard times are swept under the carpet and not spoken about.

The hard times have been completely worth it however. Is is unconditionally loyal, he gives me routine and emotional support and gets me out of the house even when I’m feeling down.

Dexter is now five months and a bundle of energy and cheekiness. We are over the hurdle of sleepless nights and he has such a funny, mischievous and loving personality. He loves everyone, gives me kisses on the nose and wants to be by my side at all times. I can’t imagine my life without him now.

If you’re having a hard time with your new pup and feel like a failure, please don’t. It is super hard and a massive challenge.

There does come a point where it gets easier. Finding life hard with your new family member is a challenge and you shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling stressed. Seek support from your vet for advice or questions if you are having a really hard time.

Dexter keeps me company every day when I work from home and also gets me out of the house for walks twice a day. Seeing his face and wagging tail first thing every morning gives me reason to get out of bed. It was so hard at first, but I would do it all again for the way he makes me feel now. He is one of the biggest support aids for my anxiety and mental health.

 

H x

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