Quick Tips for New Parents

Being a first-time parent can be a stressful and challenging experience for even the most prepared person. You worry if they’re happy, eating the right foods and haven’t peed on the carpet in the middle of the night… I did mention I’m talking about my dog, right?

Two weeks ago, I adopted a dog from the Butte Humane Society. After looking for a pet for months and months, I found Indigo and the rest is history. She is a 10-month-old, 55-pound lap dog and quite a handful.

When you’re thinking about adding a new member to your family, it’s hard to imagine all the new and bizarre challenges you will face. Here are my top tips for dealing with a new dog (or maybe just mine):

1. When your dog won’t go to the bathroom, it might need some privacy.
I share this technique at the risk of sounding like a crazy dog lady, but believe me it works! If your dog doesn’t seem comfortable using the bathroom outside and prefers the carpet in your home, try this. Take your pet where there aren’t many distractions, let the leash hang loosely and look the opposite direction.

2. Buy dog wipes for between baths.
They look like a giant baby wipe and come in a variety of scents. They are extremely useful for combating a greasy coat or a smelly dog. Indigo actually enjoys it when she isn’t busy trying to eat them. I bought my lavender scented wipes at Petsmart.

3. If you don’t want your pet to sit on the furniture when you’re not there, don’t invite them to sit on the couch, ever.
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way and now Indigo wouldn’t dream of using the lovely dog bed I bought for her–that’s $40 I’ll never see.

4. For a high-energy pup, buy them a bone.
Unfortunately, Indigo doesn’t understand when I explain that I can’t play because I have homework, so I give her a bone to keep her entertained while I lovingly ignore her. Most bones are cheap and good for oral hygiene. This will keep your dog distracted and allow you to get some work done.

5. Consistency is key.
Try using the same phrases for a specific action. Every time we are going outside I tell Indigo, “We are going OUTSIDE.” After a while your pup will catch on, and if they still need help, patience and positive reinforcement should do the trick!

A Girl’s Best Friend (Nope, no Diamonds Here)

My dog is probably my most prized possession.

As that cliché hypothetical question goes: if there was a fire and I could grab one thing, it would be my four-legged sidekick.  Although technically she would be running ahead of me at full speed, and my hands would be free to grab my computer, that’s neither here nor there.

One day I went to the Butte Humane Society with my human best friend to write a story for my JOUR 341 class and saw a scruffy, small mutt in a green sweater.

I went back the next day and took her home with me. I named her after Luna Lovegood, the whimsy and slightly loopy Harry Potter character. My boyfriend, who I live with, was out of town at the time, so when he got home I casually said, “Hey look I adopted this dog! Isn’t she cute?”  Not one of my proudest girlfriend moments, but he grew to love her just as much as I do.

I’m a very logical and methodical person with very little impulsive tendencies. But her adoption was definitely the most impulsive decision I’ve ever made.

Even though she is my best friend–just saying that out loud makes me feel so awkward–it hasn’t always been a walk in the park taking care of her as a working college student.

She had (and still suffers from) severe separation anxiety. She’s destroyed carpet, blinds and toys. She is a piece of work.  My schedule is catered to making sure I can get home to let Luna out.  But she is so worth it, because every time I’m home alone, I’m not really alone. She’s always there…literally.  I wasn’t kidding about the separation anxiety.

I encourage any college student thinking about getting a dog to consider ALL the responsibility that comes with a canine best friend.  You can’t just leave on any given weekend or have a crazy loud party if your dog is as anxious as mine is. But hey, she’s worth it. Look at that face.