This is supposed to be a blog about writing, and hey, I’m going to write something that isn’t really along that vein today. I hope you’ll all bear with me.
So after many years of waiting and planning and researching, I finally got a puppy last week. Exciting, right? Well, actually no.
I’ve had anxiety my whole life, though I think it has gotten progressively worse as I’ve gotten older. I haven’t been professionally diagnosed and I didn’t even really self-diagnose until a few years ago thanks to Tumblr which explained more about anxiety than I ever knew and made me realize that yes, that is what happens to me. It’s not just the usual nervousness before presentations that everyone gets. And this week proved it.
So I got a puppy, an adorable purebred Keeshond from a breeder I researched and talked to for 4 months before getting the dog. I’ve had dogs most of my life. I’ve raised several from puppies, trained and showed them. I was in dog 4-H for six years where I learned how to train dogs, medical information, showmanship, everything. I was a junior handler in the AKC with a Belgian Sheepdog for a year. I worked at two dog boarding kennels. I have experience with dogs. I used to make lists of every dog breed I wanted (some topping out over 80). I chose the Keeshond breed due to its friendly nature, watch-dog tendencies, and intelligence (they’re ranked #15 in dog intelligence). There are some drawbacks such as possible excessive barking and the grooming requirements, but overall, when it came down to my top three choices (Keeshond, Newfoundland, Golden Retriever), I decided the Keeshond was best.
I got the puppy on Sunday. I drove 8 hours to Colorado to pick him up, and the breeder had been sending me regular pictures and updates from the time of birth. My puppy is cute, smart, fluffy, and most astonishingly, quiet (except those first few agonizing nights in the crate). Despite all this, I’ve spent the past week mired in anxiety. I had a panic attack the first night after driving home and cried to my cat (who has still yet to come out to meet the puppy). Since then, I’ve had anxiety attacks off and on all week.
Rationally, I know there’s not really much to worry about. The dog will get potty trained. He will stop biting me and my clothes. He will get used to the routine of me going to work. He will calm down. I think it’s the wandering that gives me the most anxiety, not knowing if he’s playing or if he needs to go out or if he’s going to find a cord and chew it and electrocute himself.
I’m trying to do what I can to alleviate my anxiety, and I’ve done a million Google searches on how to teach behavior, texted the breeder too many times about stupid questions because I don’t want to admit that I’m scared to death I’m going to screw up this dog. I’ve also done a lot of searches about anxiety over getting a new pet. Apparently it’s not such a strange thing and it stems from just such a big change. While that did make me feel better, I still woke up with a huge weight of anxiety this morning.
I keep telling myself that I can do this and it will get better. Baz, the puppy, has already learned to ring the bell on the door. Whether he associates it with going to the bathroom yet, I don’t think so. So far, he’s only had a few accidents inside, but I have been extra vigilant about taking him outside every time he gets up from a nap, after he eats, and every other time he starts wandering around. That could be partially what’s causing my stress, the feeling that he needs to be supervised 24/7.
It will get easier after potty training. It will get easier after the teething stage. It will get easier. I know that. It’s just really hard to believe it sometimes. At this point, I’m hoping that going back to work and getting into more of a routine will help me feel more in control. It didn’t today, but maybe tomorrow.
I can handle this. I can.