Nothing can prepare you for a puppy. I’m an obsessive researcher, I thought I knew everything there was to know and that I was totally prepared to be a dog parent.
Let me admit right now how arrogantly wrong I was.
Winnie was 12 pounds of crazy. Potty training, teething, exercise, all of this was frustrating and exhausting, and on top of it all, the pupper didn’t even seem to like me that much. And she finally finally finally seemed to chill out, and then the dreaded adolescence hit. Nothing can prepare you for adolescent either. Teenage attitude is the same in every species, it turns out.
So Winnie is 1 now, and while I obviously loved her before, she is 100% more lovable now that she’s more grown-up. She’s smart and funny and has more personality than should fit in her 60-pound body.
And so, I present to you here 7 awesome things about Winnie turning 1, with pictures included.
1. learning tasks- Winnie is in training to be an Autism Service Dog for me, and the one thing that defines a service dog is that they do specific tasks to help with symptoms of their handler’s disability. This is a picture of Winnie doing Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) to help me when I’m overstimulated. She acts like a living super warm breathing weighted blanket. Some other tasks we’re working on are medication reminders, sound alerts, and general obedience like public access!
2. a great snuggler- Some puppies are snuggly right out of the gate, but Winnie was definitely not one of them. She had a tendency to overheat when she was little and was she wasn’t hot and sleepy, she didn’t stop moving long enough give so much as a kiss. It was hard back then because she (like all puppies) was so much work, and she didn’t really show any interest in me at all. Luckily, she’s grown out of that so much that that, everything I do must be checked out and Winnie approved.
3. poses for pictures- Let me tell you that up until the pupper was about 6 months old, 98% of pictures I took of her were just a big black blur. Getting her to sit still was a miracle in and of itself, and her staying where I’d put her long enough to get a picture took a second person and a whole lot of treats. Now the percentage is more like 50%, which is a massive improvement, and her outtakes get funnier and funnier as she gets older. I’m immensely proud of both of us that we get this picture for her 1st birthday!
4. plays independently- Puppies take so much attention folks. They can’t pee by themselves, they can’t sleep without assistance, they can’t be trusted alone with anything, ever. One thing I didn’t know about puppies was that they don’t really know how to play with toys right off the bat. And it seems like Winnie was a bit of a slow learner because she really needed help figuring out how to play with toys until recently. It has been so amazing that we get to give her toys, and she’ll play independently (the toy in the picture is Erik the Viking, from Barkbox). I think she’d still rather play with us, but we’ve all got a nice balance.
5. takes long naps- Puppies are supposed to sleep around 20 hours a day, which sounds really awesome. It really isn’t. 20 hours in 2 or 3 hours chunks is NOT the same as 20 hours where they’re waking up every half hour or so. She’s also gone through stages of being both very good and very bad at sleeping through the night. At the moment she’s sleeping great, which means we’re sleeping great, which means everyone is happy!
6. can be left alone- For the first month or so after Winnie came home, we literally could not leave the house. We either had to bring her with us or go out one at a time. You don’t realize it, but being stuck at home, not getting to see friends or go to activities really takes a toll on your mental health. It took longer than average for Winnie to be okay with crate training, but thank goodness she has. These days she happily goes into her crate (or her ‘fort’ as we call it) when we leave, eats her peanut butter treats, and then sleeps the whole time we’re out. We can hang out with friends, go to the movies, even go pumpkin picking! We still bring her along to dog-friendly places, but having a choice is nice, right?
7. her farts don’t kill- There’s no nice way of putting this- when Winnie was a baby, her gas could clear a room. It smelled like she had pooped every. single. time. she. farted. And she farted a lot. We tried a lot of things, some of them working better than others. Turns out that Winnie doesn’t tolerate wheat-based kibble very well, which is ok because Jess’s Celiac wasn’t a fan of the wheat either. Sadly, we also found out that the pupper is SO DAMN lactose intolerant. No pup cups for Winnie, but it’s been worth it. She still farts, but they’re normal dog farts, and we can all live with that I think.
It should not come as a surprise to you that I welcome any pet photos from dogs to rabbits to fish, I am not picky about the cuteness.