Today our lovely pup Stanley turns 1, so I thought I’d give you a little pupdate on how he’s getting on!
Just in case you missed it (I have no idea how – he’s all I ever talk about!), I’ll take you right back to the start.
We got Stanley back in April 2017, so we’ve had him for around 10 months now and it’s safe to say he’s changed our lives for the better! Having never been ‘animal people’ really, it is fair to say that getting a dog was a bit of a shock to the system. We had 2 goldfish when I was growing up but, besides that, I’ll openly admit that I just didn’t get the whole pet thing & really felt entirely indifferent to animals for most of my life (I know, I know). This probably harks back to me being attacked by a dog when I was little. There was no serious damage done physically but it definitely had an impact on the way I felt about animals, particularly dogs. Having said that, my Mum & Dad’s best friends have always had dogs, so I had grown up around them and liked them, from a distance, just always felt the need to keep them slightly at arm’s length.
Anyway, 2017 was pretty turbulent for us. My lovely Grandpa had been really ill and sadly passed away and we really felt like we needed something to bring some love and positivity into our lives – a new focus for us all. After months of working on my Mum to try and persuade her that a dog was the way forwards she finally gave in, and we started the process of searching for our Stan.
Picking the breed
Another family friend of ours has a Cavachon (King Charles Cavalier / Bichon Frise cross) called Evie and had recommended the breed to us due to their gentle and loving nature – which seeemed perfect for us as first time pet owners! We went to meet Evie to see what she was like and quickly fell in love, deciding that that was the breed for us too. An insane amount of online tests confirmed that fact for us and with that in mind we set about finding a breeder.
The Cavachons UK Facebook group was instrumental in this and we quickly found a reputable breeder on the page who was going to have a new litter available very soon. To be honest the whole thing is a bit of a whirlwind after this, as it really didn’t take long to get the wheels in motion and get Stan home.
I know people have a lot of opinions on breeders vs rescue dogs and this is something we considered too. However with a lot of research we decided that this was the right way forward for us, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t go down the rescue dog route in the future, now that we have the confidence that we can raise a pup.
Bringing him home
We went to pick Stan up from the breeder in Aylesbury which is about a 2 hour drive from where we live so the journey home initially felt pretty daunting, but actually he was as good as gold. He barely made a sound and we had no accidents, which was pretty remarkable really!
Once we got him home I was still very wary. For the first two weeks or so I was very scared to hold him, instead choosing to lie on the floor near him, or have him on my lap on a towel for short bursts of time. It was only by slowly building up the time I spent with him and getting to know him slowly, as he got to know us, that I was able to break down those fears I had and change my outlook.
I eased myself in gently, taking the time to get to know him and his habits, opting to get closer to him as he was more tired (after his morning walk was the best time!) and easing off when he was slightly more lively and excitable. It took a couple of months until we were totally comfortable around each other, but I think it was worth doing things that way as it meant that neither he nor I got spooked at an early stage.
As a family we obviously had a huge learning curve ahead of us and I’m not sure that we knew quite the level of responsibility we had got ourselves in for. As Cavachons are so loving, they can be a very needy breed. Luckily my Dad is retired so can be with Stan pretty much all day every day, however this created a relationship and a bond that the rest of us just couldn’t replicate. At the beginning it was a struggle if my Dad was out, but this has got miles better, as Stanley has grown closer to the rest of us.
In terms of toilet training, we did have a few accidents to begin with but Stan seemed to get it pretty quickly. We didn’t bother with puppy pads as we personally felt that that was encouraging him to go inside. On a whim, we bought the ‘training bells’ from Pets At Home, thinking it would be a total gimmick. We hung them on the patio doors and rang them every time we took Stanley outside for a wee that morning and later that afternoon, he rang them himself! Since then we haven’t looked back & he hasn’t had another accident indoors! The only problem now is that he knows exactly how to get our attention so sometimes we have to actually take the bells off the door handle if he’s being naughty and trying to get outside, as they make a bloomin’ racket.
We decided that crate training was the best method for us and, as a result, never had an issue with him sleeping through the night. He knows that his crate is his safe space and never whinges or moans about going in there. This also makes it pretty easy for us to leave him (although only ever for a few hours at a time) as we know he is safe and can’t get up to mischief while we’re out.
What life is like now
Now, I don’t think twice about my previous fears! Stan has become such a huge part of our family, like the annoying little brother I never knew I wanted but now love with all my heart.
Having a dog brings us so much joy, on a daily basis, and that is truly something that I never thought I would say. There’s nothing nicer than being greeted at the door by him when I get home from work, having a cuddle with him when I’m stuck on the sofa with yet another migraine, or having him running alongside me when I’m jogging in the park. He’s changed so much over the past year, growing more confident and gaining more of a personality every single day. He can be silly and goofy, soppy & sweet, tenacious and stroppy, fiercely loyal and above all else is a really great companion (when he’s busy not barking at his own reflection in the window…)
He’s also made me feel really differently towards animals in general. Today I walked in the park with a Great Dane, who was quite literally the same size as me. This time last year I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near him but Stan has given me the confidence to be comfortable around other animals and I feel really proud of us both for the relationship we’ve built and the way that’s helped me change for the better. I now can’t help but notice all of the cute doggos in the street & have been so excited to meet my friends’ new puppies and hear all of their stories too. I truly feel like he’s given me so much, I just hope that he feels the same about us!
Happy 1st Birthday to you lovely Stan! I hope you enjoy the new elephant toy we got you today.
Thanks for bringing so much love into my life & for turning this cold old bat into a soppy cow. ❤️🐶