Saturday, March 7, 2020

My Life With Thor: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting A Dog

I am fully aware that I have become one of those people, the ones who speak too much to anyone who will listen, and some inanimate objects too, about their pets. Did I ever think I'd be here? No. Am I ashamed of it? Hard no. Since Thor came into our lives I've acquired a lot of stories to share. I also believe we need more positivity in our lives, so I decided to make a new feature here on my blog This is My Life With Thor.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting A Dog

Three years ago this precious boy came into my life. I've always had pets growing up, but never a dog. I've had budgerigars (or budgies), fish, and turtles, but dogs always terrified me. I'd go as far as to say it was almost a phobia. But then we moved in a house with a yard and we all knew it was time to get a dog. Dad didn't care what we'd get, and mom wanted a German Shepherd (GSD). A friend of dad's knew someone who had some puppies, and the rest is history. I've been blessed with Thor in my life, and I never thought I'd be one of those people who have a phone full of photos of their pet. Growing up, we didn't have today's technology, so I don't have a photo of my first budgie, Billy. I wish I had, but there you have it. 

Before we got Thor though, me and mom were very responsible. We did our research, we read tons of articles online, we even signed up to a GSD owners forum. Side note: I hate calling myself "owner" so from now on you'll see me talk about "human companions". However no amount of research prepared me for certain things. Here are 5 things I wish I knew before getting Thor:

1. He is more stubborn than me

If you believe in astrology, then it's important to know that I'm an Aries. I am VERY stubborn. I believe that if you grab the dictionary, you'll find "Aries" under the explanation for stubborn. This dog however...

There's a moment when I look at him and I know he's making fun of me. I just see that amused glint in his eyes. Right now he's refusing to let go of his favorite toy whenever he's outside, and we're trying to hide it, but I'm the weakest ever because he gives me this insanely pitiful look , like I'm doing something truly terrible, and I just give it back to him. Yes, ladies, gentlemen, and gentlepeople, I do get played by a dog.

Another thing he is truly stubborn about doing, and it's something that is very stressful to me, is licking stuff where he notices that other dogs have been on: grass, asphalt, trees, doesn't matter, if a dog peed on it, he has to lick. And no matter how many times I pull him away and tell him no, he will not stop doing it.

2. Bathroom time is not private anymore

No one said anything about not having my privacy when I go to the bathroom. In the grand scheme of things, this is probably one of the least important things to know beforehand, but I have been on the receiving end of a door in my head one too many times at this point. I think there will be a permanent bump on my forehead. I know there's tons of videos out there with human companions and their dogs in the bathroom, but I honestly thought it was made for the internet. I can now confirm that yes, they are totally real. Bathroom time for the human shall be a shared experience. If you're not in the mood for your dog to pester you and you close the door before your furry friend can follow you inside, you can bet that you'll hear loud sniffs underneath the door, mighty slaps delivered with one or both front paws, and pitiful crying. Basically you'll feel shitty going to the bathroom alone (pun totally intended).

3. There's more stuff to worry about than just his stomach

When we got Thor we were aware that bigger dogs can develop gastric dilation, also known as “stomach twisting”. It wasn't until our vet, and the lady trainer we went to that we understood how serious it was, what may cause it, how to recognize if it was happening, and how to reduce the risks of it happening. However I can tell you that there's more crap that your dog can suffer from that will make you feel just as bad.

Thor had to have surgery for elbow dysplasia, and the recovery period was just awful. He was 10 months old when he had the surgery, and because he was a very energetic puppy, he had to stay in his dog kennel for almost 7 months for his leg to fully heal. It was awful to experience, and I really don't wish it on anyone, because I (and I know this is true for my parents as well) felt powerless to help him in any way, especially when he was in pain in those first few weeks right after the surgery. He now has arthritis in that elbow, so when the cold hits, he starts limping pretty badly, so we have to take care of that.

Any and all injuries involving a nail will turn Thor into the grumpiest dog on the planet. And let's not forget about skin issues. We freaked out in the beginning, but the vet assured us each and every time that it's normal, it's a bacteria, so now we know what to do, which treatment to use, so we can make his skin recover fast and well.

4. What You Feel, They Feel

This was a very surprising lesson to learn, one that for whatever reason I wasn't anticipating. I wasn't prepared for my feelings to influence his behavior in such a way. I wasn't anticipating that my dislike of certain dogs, certain people, or even certain situations, would translate in Thor being more defensive and growly towards those things. Even now, when I'm aware of that, if I'm somehow not feeling well and I still have to go out with him, he's walking in a certain way, and when I'm back to feeling okay he will also go back to walking the way he usually does. 

It's not like I made an effort to make my displeasure at something known, but even the tiniest thought that I had along the lines of "Oh god, not this again" made him stand up straighter and be extra careful or bark, which I now understand it's a reflection of what I feel.

5. They are the best con artists on the planet

So here's the thing. Whenever Thor doesn't want to do something, usually go out for a walk, he'll pretend to have a limp. And because I'm a gullible human being, at first I believe him and let him be his lazy self on his mattress. Usually he starts fake limping whenever we're already out of the house, so I turn back around. I kid you not, the moment I shut the gate and take off his lead, he will start running around like a maniac, tail wagging and just the biggest dog grin on his face. Other times he'll pretend he has something in his ear just so you can scratch his ear because I think he's just too precious to do it himself.

I try to tell him no and show him that this behavior is not acceptable, but he just gives me this look that, once again my dear people, wins me over. I did not know that. I was not warned that these kinds of games and pranks shall be targeted at me by this precious dog that I love with my entire heart. My trainer even laughed at me when I told her this, and she saw Thor in action with one of his tricks, and she was less amused when it happened. She laughed afterwards, but as with babies, you can't laugh at them if you want to correct that behavior!


Having any pet can be a learning opportunity. I've learned so much about how to be responsible growing up because I had this tiny being that I had to feed and play with and keep the cage clean when I had Billy. I learned that turtles are great escape artists, and that just cause it's a turtle that doesn't mean that they don't get attached to their human companions. But Thor was a totally new experience, and no amount of research could have prepared me for some things.

Let's discuss: Do you have a pet? If you do, please share some of the things you weren't prepared for before getting that pet.
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