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Feb 25, 2015

The First 48: The Cutest Form of Terror

I've thought about writing about the day we got Stella for awhile now. It's been a little over two years since that day. I have a few friends who will likely be getting dogs in the next few months so it seems fitting to walk through the terrors of my first day or so as a dog parent which left me wondering... IS THIS NORMAL?

The First 48 must be difficult for most new puppy owners, so much so that it appears above both"your first night with your husband" and "your first night home with baby" on Google search.


I should have kept a log of everything that happened in those first two days, but honestly I probably wouldn't have had the energy to do it. We got Stella on a Sunday afternoon. We picked her up about an hour away and I took one for the team and drove home while my boyfriend held her in the passenger seat. We got home and she was just adorable, exploring the apartment and playing with all of the toys that had been anticipating her arrival.

The first sign of the struggle occurred the first time she had to go to the bathroom. So we didn't catch it in time to get her outside, that wasn't a surprise. What was a surprise is that we realized that she had never actually been outside before. We lived on a quiet street in a busy part of downtown Seattle. The second we took her outside it was absolutely sensory overload. She was so intrigued with every sound and smell outside that the last thing she was going to do was go potty out there in wild. Those first few days like clockwork. We would take her outside when we thought she would have to go... and stay outside... in the Seattle January chill and rain... and wait and wait. Finally my fingers would be numb and we would come back inside and let Stella off the leash and a minute later she would pee all over the carpet. At one point while we were outside playing the potty game she found a burrito on the ground wrapped in tin foil. I think the biggest question is who doesn't finish their Chipotle burrito and drops it on the sidewalk?! The other question is, have you ever had to try to pull a tin foil burrito out of a puppies mouth? That was some scary shit.

Then came dinner time on that first day. We put up the doggy gate in the hallway (our only area with hardwood to give the carpet a pee break) and started to make ourselves dinner. I'm sure she could smell the food, plus it was the first time that day that we weren't there holding her and playing with her and she freaked the F%*K out. She was trying to scale the gate Spiderman-style. Finally I couldn't handle the howling anymore and we let her out of the hallway. She starting jumping and barking like a mad dog in the kitchen. You would think the pup was starved to death. This full on tantrum while people were cooking or eating continued for weeks. I called it the puppy diet and I think I lost like 5 lbs in those first few weeks. The less often I was eating food that she wanted the less often I had to deal with her begging for it. It may be the next fad diet.

Finally it was bedtime... which never came that night. We were up the entire night trying to keep her calm while showing some tough love as she acted like a Stage 5 Clinger. The next day I stayed home from work with Stella. My plan had been to take her to work starting the following week, but it was soon evident that her workplace etiquette was not going to meet the bar. I started looking into dog walkers, hustling to try to get something lined up by the end of the week.

By the end of the day I was overwhelmed with being left alone with this needy thang. Six o'clock was our first puppy training class and I could not be more grateful. Puppy class was about a half mile from our place which was not far enough to drive. Trying to get her to walk on a leash felt like trying to find a cure for cancer, so we had to carry her there and back like a baby. When we got to the class I remember my eyes watering. I think it was partly because I was so tired I couldn't keep them open and partly because I was overwhelmed with the strangest mix of emotions. Being in that class I finally felt like we weren't alone, other people were having serious potty, leash, and begging problems as well. It was as if we had all been hazed in our sorority at the same time, although it was actually ten pound fluff balls that had brought us to this crazy state. Everyone there knew exactly what the First 48 was like. 

After surviving the First 48 I finally understood why puppies have to be so stinking cute. 

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