Let’s get this straight off the bat– I have never been a pet person. I lost a childhood cat at 22 (Spankey, may he rest in peace…) and have only grown to loving animals again through having one as an adult. My husband forcefully brought a beautifully thick golden retriever into our lives, and although reluctant at first, I now believe she is our greatest blessing. Becoming a dog owner has made me grateful for understanding and wholeness.

I bring to you the journey of having a new puppy, her growth through photos (March through December), and what I have learned in these 9 months we’ve had together so far. Please meet Millie, wrongfully kept without highlight on my website for far too long, and the sweetest only-child among the front range of the Rocky Mountains.

Millie loves the snow. She was born in the winter and has only lived in cold weather (originally from Indiana, moved immediately to Colorado). We bathe her often enough that you’d want to put your face on her ears and we brush her frequently to slow down her monstrous shedding. She is still scared of the vacuum cleaner she hated when she was small. She has zero self control with treats/food but is a fairly good listener (when she wants to be). She is perfectly fine off a leash in the mountains, but city life puts her in a terrible mood and makes her want to poop on sidewalks out of spite. She’s unbelievably intelligent.

In becoming a pet owner and dare I say it– truly LOVING a pet for their soul and daily connection– has changed me for the better. Here are a couple lessons I’ve learned in new perspective, and possibly a perfect sign for someone feeling a little lost to adopt or shop for a pet sidekick:

  • I’ve always hated the term “dog mom” because nothing has ever physically grown inside of me with plans to be brought into this cruel world. Taking ownership would be unfair to her still living birth mother of the same species, who did all the tough work and had her babies given away. I will continue to hate this term but also feel pressured to be polite when people use it. Note: Although you will never catch me claiming mom-hood for my dog on Mother’s Day– this is not my opinion regarding adopted parents of the same species.
  • I didn’t know animals could shed THIS much. Her hair is in my mouth at all times.
  • Strangers often compliment her discipline, and I’d say it simply shows how terrible most other people are at training their animals. We love on Millie 99% of the time, but when she does something wrong, she deserves to have physical discipline. We never crate-trained her, but a little slap to her heavy butt and stubborn “NO, NO, NO, NO!” in her face gets the point across, showing proper authority. Sure, it sucks to do at the time and makes her owners very sad, but the hard feelings are quickly forgotten with extra cuddles the rest of the day. ALL LIVING BEINGS NEED TO BE PUT IN THEIR PLACE WHEN THEY ARE WRONG!
    • With this being said, our dog is an angel because we also spend an incredible amount of time with her. She spent the first two months in her new home without being left alone once. I am grateful my WFH lifestyle, Tanner’s ability to bring her to work, and our lack of children in our household allowing us to give Millie the ideal amount of attention. If you can’t dedicate a proper amount of time/attention to a pup, you may want to reconsider having one (or not blaming THEM for being disruptive/misbehaved).
  • A lot of people are really uncool pet owners. People have dogs that bite other puppies’ faces and don’t abruptly listen when their owners give stern commands. This leads to the FACT that dogs are never bad, but a lot of people still suck.
  • This one might be just a Millie & Kait thing, but dogs can absolutely read auras and have souls that can match behavior. When I’m hungover after a night of drinking, Millie will pretend she’s gagging. When I’m crying, she pouts by my side. When we want to cuddle, she lets us maneuver her body how we please. She shows love with hand kisses.
  • Periods suck for everyone, even pups. If the time-of-the-month wasn’t bad, her diaper rash was.
  • I seldom feel alone anymore. I have been struggling without close friends within close proximity (I moved from NY where my best friends are all thriving), and thoughts of feeling alone have drastically decreased with my ownership of a living being. I rarely talk to her like a human to vent, but sometimes, it’s necessary (and very helpful)!
  • Golden Retrievers are the best dog breed. I’ve had family chihuahuas and labradors growing up, and we have friends with a multitude of other breeds. Millie is among the quietest (never whines, but can bark when we want her to be a guard dog), most disciplined, affectionate, and athletic while somehow also knowing when to be calm.
  • Lastly, I am very grateful for a husband that not only brings puppies into my life I don’t know that I need, but for taking the lead on raising/training Millie. I am thankful we have her and even more thankful he has helped her become the best puppy in the world.

I’d say if nothing else, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be an owner to Chilly Millie (or Silly Millie, depending on the day). We aren’t original in our naming or revolutionary in our overall dog training, but we have experienced better love than ever in our marriage and within our family since Millie came into our home. I hate to admit this (since I didn’t think of it), but having a dog has made our lives feel more complete.

-ksex, Millie’s biggest fan

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