Welcoming Matilda: How our new pup became part of the family
Who can resist the lure of a whelping box of wriggling, plump pups? New dog owner Kelly Rose Bradford explains how she took on a snoozing bundle of fluff curled up in a basket.
Getting a puppy was not a decision I'd taken lightly. Admittedly, I was propelled slightly by the fact my darling cat died in my arms back in October, and I was not coping well with being animal-free. But I knew that with dogs came big responsibility.
There was the cost for starters - and not just for the puppy - I had to take into account running costs; food, vets' bills, insurance. And then there was my family's lifestyle - could we commit to walking a dog at least twice a day? Would someone be at home with him or her most of the time? Did I have a willing friend or relative to dog-sit if I was away or out for more than a few hours?
A part of family life
And, my biggest concern as a parent, would a dog be a good pet for my son, a boisterous almost-eight-year old, or should we be looking for something more entry-level if I wanted him to be actively involved in its care -- a hamster or a guinea pig?
But the more I thought about it, the more I thought a dog is a true family pet. It wouldn't just be mine, it wouldn't just be William's. It would be a big part of our family life. It would dictate where we holidayed, where we went for walks at weekends, and where we went on day trips. And I decided that was a good thing -- especially for my son.
So decision made, I started my search for a puppy - I knew what I wanted - a West Highland terrier. I also knew that I only wanted to purchase a puppy from a reputable source - either a licensed breeder, or a family who had decided to let their bitch have a litter, not a pet shop or unscrupulous 'puppy farmer'.
How I found Matilda
I used the Kennel Club's Find a Puppy service and found a breeder about forty miles away. Without telling anyone of my plans, I paid the litter a visit and my heart was stolen by all five pups, three girls and two boys. I ended up choosing one of the little girls and immediately named her Matilda. Then the big wait ensued: she couldn't leave her mum until December 18th. Four whole weeks away.
I tried to keep news of the puppy secret from my son, but in the end decided it would be far better for him to make regular visits to her before she came home for good. He was smitten, and so confident yet gentle when handling her. "Can't we take her now, mummy?" he whispered as his first visit ended all too soon.
"Not long to wait," I promised, as we put 'Tilda back in her whelping box.
And it wasn't, the four weeks flew by and before we knew it, we had a very lively, very vocal, very chewy eight week old pup rampaging through our house. And then the fun really began...
- Kelly's going to be writing about how Matilda is settling into the family and the adventures they have together for Ready for Ten, please feel free to leave her any tips for a new dog owner in the comments. They would be very welcome...
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