Becoming A Dog Owner (500k Visitor Special)

In honour of a significant milestone for the blog, I thought I’d write about something a little different. Here is some insight into my journey in becoming a dog owner.

My journey in becoming a dog owner

In the years of writing this blog, I have been truly humbled by the amount of readership and feedback I have been getting. This isn’t a monetized blog, I don’t make any living from it whatsoever, but early on I had been told by quite a large number of people that they enjoyed the things I would write about the journeys of life and love online. And so, Walking The Shoreline was born, and it has been a truly sobering experience to hear from so many people around the world of how they relate to my own stories, conjecture, things I’ve read and heard, and also just the random sorts of things I’ll write about in between.

This time, in honour of having over half a million visitors so far, I thought I would share one of the most interesting journeys I’ve been on. I’ve written on my journeys through mental issues, dealing with being a logical mind in an emotional world, and written extensively about my years in review. I’ve written about songs that have moved me, about trends in relationships that seem strange, and about games and movies that I absolutely love. But this time, I want to tell another love story of a little woof and myself. Here’s my journey in becoming a dog owner.

Awkward Beginnings

“She doesn’t usually like men straight away”, she said before we were going to meet up. My wife had owned Jazzy for a number of years, and we were meeting up by Moreton Bay at the start of the “will we won’t we” phase of our relationship. Walking across the jetty, I saw my lady and the little dog that would change it all.

When I was younger, I was super allergic to cats and dogs. I would get asthma attacks, a blocked nose, and my eyes would get conjunctivitis. During primary school, my friends with pets would usually have to keep them away if they wanted me to come over. During high school, I fortunately grew out of my allergies to dogs somehow. I remember quite a few of my high school friends having dogs and realizing as I got older, oh wow, I think I’m okay around these things now. Not that I would rush out into becoming a dog owner, but it was nice to have the change in reaction to them.

Not cats though. I can be doped up on antihistamine, loaded with eye drops, hyped up on Flexitide and Ventolin, and a few hours with a cat will still eventually break me. If you ever want to assassinate me, just send a cat into my bedroom. That will be the end.

And so the famous Jazzy and I met. I was asked to hold the lead and walk around with her. Boy oh boy, it was on for young and old. I couldn’t work out how to click the lead in tighter, and when I did, I didn’t know how to loosen it. Jazzy would swerve between my legs and I would get all criss crossed and have no idea how to straighten out. She’d jump on my black clothes and I’d recoil in horror as fur covered my whole outfit. I tried to feed her something and acted as if my hand was about to be bitten off.

Anyone who watched me for the first few months trying to walk with Jazzy would get a great laugh out of it, and I don’t blame them.

Love at first sight

But it was love at first sight. Not from me to Jazzy, mind you. From her to me. People around Jazzy would tell me, “I can’t believe she likes you so much already”. I remember going for dinner with Kristy’s parents and arriving to Jazzy waiting at the door, making the cutest noises of affection you’d ever hear. The secret to getting in with the parents, boys and girls, is getting in with the dog first 😉

Jazzy was smitten. Maybe it was the warmth of my IT proportioned body. Maybe it was the fact I was just as hairy as her. Maybe it was my naivety that made her so trusting of me. Or more than likely, it was the fact I brought her some toys on our first meeting.

But it definitely became more than that. Jazzy would ask to be with me. She’d look for me if I went into another room. She’d wet the floor with excitement when I came to the front door – a few times. From the first month onwards, even to this day, I have to say a fairly minimal hello at the door until a few minutes in when I can say hello without her spraying hello back.

And surely surely, this little dog won my heart as well.

Joining the pack

If you’re a dog owner, you would already know well that dogs are pack animals. And Jazzy was letting me into her pack with open arms. Becoming a dog owner meant joining the pack, and I think I was allowed in the pack before I was ever really competent at looking after Jazzy properly.

My wife used to live on the opposite side of the city, and when we’d have joint events the next day, Jazzy would come and stay the night so we could just all meet up at my house after work. What an experience. The first time Jazzy came over my house, she pooed on the floor behind me while I was cooking in the kitchen. She did a little wee on my bedroom floor cause I forgot to take her out to the toilet the night before just before bedtime – I thought a few hours before was enough.

But I was in and being accepted as one of the pack. When I would leave from a visit, Jazzy would stare at the door, and sometimes even follow me out. If we were sitting on the couch, Jazzy was gunning straight for my lap. Or arm. Or head. That little dog had so much love for me, and not only was I joining her pack, she was joining mine.

Getting better

Eventually, I mastered the use of a dog lead. I was remembering poo bags when we went for walks. I was working out her signals of when she needed to be carried because her little sausage legs were getting too tired to climb up the big hill next to my house. I started to learn which scratches meant “let me out to eat that lizard that I think I saw” versus “omigosh a koala noise it sounds like something I want to kill” versus “I drank too much water bro” versus “I’m just going to stare at you awkwardly outside for a little bit before running back inside anyway”.

I also started to get better at the amount of attention I would now get when going out with her. I’ll never forget one time we visited Harbour Town at the Gold Coast with a friend, and I was looking after Jazzy while the girls went in to Peter Alexander, the pyjama shop. I made a profound rookie error by deciding to wait outside in front of the logo. I got swarmed by literally hundreds of people over the course of 20 minutes because they thought that it was the PA mascot dog.

When we’ve visited bigger events, such as the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, or some of the more popular places around Brisbane, I’ve gotten better at stopping every 3 metres for someone to be overwhelmed by Jazzy’s cuteness and go in for a pat. I’ve never been so popular in my whole life.

And I’ve also learned about the art of keeping a dog friendly house. I got some chocolate coins for Christmas, which I thought I had hidden properly, but little Jazzy had gone and had a midday snack while we were out at church one morning. It was a horrifying experience as chocolate is toxic to dogs. Fortunately those coins have barely any real chocolate in them (sorry if I burst your bubble on that one) but I’ve now learned the formula for calculating the toxicity of a particular substance to a dog. Muesli snacks, fruit, ear plugs, it’s all fair game in dog and war, and Jazzy has taught me well in the ways of making a house childproof.

Becoming a dog owner

One of my favourite Jazzy moments was at our wedding when she was calling out to me cause she hadn’t seen me that day yet. That will always be a special memory to me because it was the moment I officially was becoming daddy, and out of everyone else in the room who she knew, she was after me… although in her heart I think I may have gained that title of daddy in the first week or two. I have also many fond daily memories of her coming in when she knows something’s wrong, or her climbing on my head while we’re watching a movie, of her jumping on sensitive areas at high velocity because she wanted me to keep throwing the ball for her.

People ask me if I’m now a dog person. I’m not entirely sure on that one, but I can definitely say that I am a Jazzy person. Her bright personality and humble demeanor regularly remind me how simple life really is, and her fervour when she barks at some bird or unknown person entering the domain reminds me of the importance of keeping things safe. I am very grateful she chose to accept me so readily.

So there you have it. My journey in becoming a dog owner. Will there be more dogs in the future? Probably. My mother-in-law keeps telling us two legs before the next four, but we’ll see what order things happen in. All I can say is it’s been a great adventure and my life is richer for the little woof I now get to come home to every day.

How about you? What was your journey in becoming a dog owner? Or a pet owner?

PS. I am also super grateful for all the readership over the years. Thanks for sticking with me and hopefully I can keep writing about enough interesting things about life for many more years to come!

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