Surviving the New Year with Your New Pet
Sometimes Santa leaves a big surprise for the entire family — even if only one person asked for it. Here are some tips if you were one of those who found yourself with a new pet this year.
Here is a familiar scene. It starts way before Christmas with a child, a wish and a few semireluctant parents.
"Please, Mom ... ppppllleeaaase. Can I get a puppy for Christmas?”
“Dad, Dad, can I PLEASE get a puppy for Christmas?"
“No ... go ask your mother.”
“Mom, please, please, please, can I get a puppy for Christmas? I really, really want one.”
"No. Ask Santa”
“Mom, guess what? I asked Santa if I could have a puppy for Christmas, and I promised him that if I got a puppy this year, I will take care of it. I promised I will feed it. I will give it a bath ... I will love it. I will pet it. I will let in sleep in my bed. I will do everything all the time to take care of my puppy. I promised Santa I would. And he said YES."
Fast forward to Dec. 25, when there is a mysterious box under your tree. It has little holes in it, and it appears to be squirming and breathing. The box has not been there long — just long enough to get the children's attention.
"Oh, my GOSH ... a puppy! I can't believe it, Santa brought a puppy! I love him, I love him, I love him ..."
The joy. The laughter. The playing. The wet kisses. The cuteness.
Well, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea, after all. They did promise to take care of it and love it, right?
New year, new pet
Now it's January. Everyone is gone — to work, to school, to their everyday lives.
Everyone is gone, that is, except for you and the new pet.
The new pet turns out to be a not-so-cute little maniac. The new pet is used to getting a lot of attention during the past couple of weeks, but now it's just you and him — and YOU are the chew toy. The pet is like a furry little tornado, whirling though the house and destroying everything in (and out of) sight.
What happened to the fun? The joy? The laughter? The promises?
They are gone and vanished — just like the last piece of wrapping paper that the new puppy is currently eating.
Tips from the Michigan Humane Society
I liken the Michigan Humane Society Pet Help Line to a 24/7 emergency care call line at a busy hospital emergency room. I first used this very helpful tool when my puppy, Star Trek, was home the first week. After a few days of getting used to his new home, Star Trek got comfortable. He was only 11 weeks and was calm, quiet and very cute when I brought him home. He slept a lot, didn’t bark — he was basically a GREAT little puppy.
Then, something changed. He started growing, and growing, and biting, and chewing, and running and jumping.
I knew I was in trouble and needed help.
One day I found the MHS Pet Help Line (248-650-0127) and called. The Pet Help Line has a 24/7 message system and assured me that a trained professional would call back within 24 hours. I left a message saying something like "HELP-MY-NEW-PUPPY-IS-TRYING-TO-KILL-ME."
When the phone rang in the next hour or so, it was someone from the help line. I was so worked up that I totally forgot I had called them for help!
And help they did. Somehow, the trained professional at the help line told me how to work through the biting. My hands and fingers stopped bleeding, and I do not have teeth marks on my wrists or forearms anymore. Progress.
Help for the whole family
This week I spoke with Kevin Hatman, the public relations coordinator at the humane society. I asked him about some of the programs that are available for new pet owners. Hatman said the humane society is committed to helping people provide proper care for their pets, and it has many resources available to the public, including a Pet Behavior Assistance program.
This program is easily accessed on the MHS website and has tons of information, such as basic dog behavior tips, basic cat behavior tips and references for pet training classes. (The Rochester humane society location does not have pet training on site, but it does have a referral network for training.)
For example, do you have a new puppy that is chewing on everything in sight? According to some tips on the website, you should pick up all tempting, nonchewable items, and when your puppy pays any attention to a proper chew toy, flood him with attention. That way, he'll learn that good things happen when he chews on the right thing.
Eat, sleep and play
One thing new puppy owners need to know is that their pet needs plenty of exercise, attention and socialization with other canines. If your pet does not receive proper amounts of play time, it can become destructive. That's why the downtown Wet Noses Pet Camp is a great place to take, and LEAVE, your puppy for whatever amount of time you choose.
Wet Noses Pet Camp is an all-inclusive dog-care facility that provides doggie day care, grooming and a cage-free boarding service. The facility is large, clean and has separate indoor and outdoor play areas. The pups are kept in their private area, while the adults pooches play in the next yard.
Right now, the business is offering a free half-day doggie day care for new pet visitors. As I was leaving Wet Noses Pet Camp, one of the owners handed me a coupon for the free program. I immediately said, “Star Trek will see you next week!”
After all, even a not-so-new pet owner, like myself, needs a break, too.