We never thought of getting a pet before. A few months ago, our life was quite hectic; we were always busy working and taking care of important family stuff. A pet was definitely the last thing we thought about. I am not an expert about life but one thing that I’ve learned so far is that it can surprise you when you least expect it, it could change your plans unexpectedly and direct you to a totally different direction and suddenly realize that you’ve made some choices that you would have never done before, either because you were always pessimist about it or you thought that it just wasn’t the right time.
I remember waking up one morning from a lot of scratching and pounding on the door of my room and quite a lot of whining too. It was probably around 4am, I opened my eyes and walked to the door to find Rio standing there staring up at me as to say “can you let me in please, that room over there is so dark and lonely for a fragile pup like me”. I tell you, you can never say no to that adorable face like a child pouting wanting you to do something for them. In the first place, we were reluctant leaving him alone in the living room, it was his first night in the house and it is obviously normal for him to feel alone, he wanted company. To a pup our house was probably a maze, he felt uneasy. This was not the house he had slept in the night before, the people living in there were strangers. It was overwhelming for him, all these changes happening so fast and so sudden. Honestly It was overwhelming for us too. I stood there looking at him not knowing what to do, I was so sure he had woken everyone up and at any moment they could change their mind about him.
Rio is a Pitbull lab mix; he’s got black fur and a strip of white on his chest. He was only 9 weeks old when we adopted him from the shelter. His name originally was Pistachio but the lady that fostered him named him Rio. “Rio” was simple and easy to say so we went along with it. We had never had a dog before let alone adopt one. The adoption process was a new thing to us, we had no idea about the papers that needed to be filled up. We thought it was just showing up at the shelter, pointing out the pup that you wanted to get and that was it. As ridiculous as that might sound that’s how naïve we were but we were new pet owners, what can you expect, Right?. I kind of wished we had done some research before digging ourselves deeper into the situation as to be aware of what to expect. I sort of did some research on the internet prior to deciding whether continuing with the plan of getting a pup but most of it was like “is it a good idea getting a pup?’ or “what do you like about dogs?” that sort of thing to convince myself that it was indeed a good idea getting one. All the articles I found outlined the positive and negative sides of having a pup. The positives always outshined the negatives until finally I realized that I was absolutely sure that that is what I wanted, what WE wanted and what we needed.
When we got to the shelter however, we were asked to fill up some papers, the adoption application. Basically, asking about our household size, if we had a backyard and if it was fenced, where we lived, what kind of dog we were looking for etc. In the last sheet of the paper, they asked us what kind of dog we were looking for, what characteristics to be specific. They wanted to find the perfect match for every type of family because selecting the right dog for you was crucial to both the family’s and the pup’s happiness. We checked a few boxes on the paper that said friendly, energetic, playful, perfect for new owners. We submitted the application and a while later they told us that we had qualified and that they had found a perfect match!. So they introduced us to Rio and he captured our heart immediately. He was super hyper and friendly and he wasn’t shy at all. He walked towards us and sniffed us with his tail wiggling all over the place. We looked at each other and nodded. This is the one no doubt about it. Before leaving the shelter, they gave us one last paper to fill which was the Rescue Adoption Agreement in which you had to promise to take care of your pup, never to mistreat him and give him a loving home. We agreed and signed. It had been a long and exhausting day; we had spent all morning getting everything prepared for our new puppy. We had bought him toys, a crate and blankets and we had spent almost the whole afternoon at the shelter.
Sweet Rio had finally become a member of the family. We settled him in the living room which at the time was ideal because that is where we spent most of our time and Rio wouldn’t feel so lonely but at night it was inevitable for him to feel alone. We all would go to sleep in our bedrooms and he would immediately start whining and scratching at the door. As first pet owners we felt sorry for him, although we were advised to ignore his whining because all he wanted was attention and if we gave in to it he would continue doing it every time, we couldn’t take it. So we brought his crate in our bedroom and let him sleep there next to us. He would fall asleep right away and the snoring would begin, yes Rio snores and he snores a lot. Occasionally he would have nightmares and whimper in his dreams. He would start to tremble and we would try to shake him awake until he’d open his eyes and stare startled at us not knowing where he was. We really got to know him well for the first few days. We learned that we needed to take him out potty twice at night which was very unpleasant for us because we weren’t used to it but no matter how much we despised the idea of waking up in the middle of the night we knew it was important or else our little buddy would start wondering in the room until he’d find a nice spot to do his business in. He’d do this during the day too if whenever we’d forget to take him outside which most of the time we did. In the beginning it was all cool but as time progressed it became a hard task, having to take him outside and cleaning up poo and pee. We started to potty train him but nothing worked because he would still do it in the house instead of going outside. At some point we thought he’d never learn.
Rio would make a big mess inside, he would chew on anything he’d find. Chew on you’re lovely fluffy slippers that were on your feet, he would try to snatch them off and half rip them into pieces and he would nibble on your fingers just hard enough to hurt. He was only playing of course but it became irritating. By this time we were almost on the verge of giving up on him, we had started to regret the choice we had made. It was all too much, he was a lot of work, more than a baby. We started to wonder why we had decided on the idea of having a puppy in our house and our life.
At one point we started to discuss the idea of giving him back, to rehome him. Maybe a more experienced pet owner would be able to take care of him and his needs better than we can. There was always a pang in my heart every time we brought up the conversation. We had gone through tougher situation though not really relevant to this one, it showed that we could endure anything. True, Rio was a rambunctious pup but all he needed was some time to learn and it was all up to us.
Dogs are precious creatures, they require a lot of patience and a lot of work but trust me the results are very rewarding. We trained rio to the best of our abilities, we taught him to sit, stay and lay. To our surprise he learned pretty quickly but there was still one thing that he wasn’t catching on with, he would still pee and poo inside the house. Every time he did it we would just shake our heads in dismay and mildly scold him. What we decided to do is get a bell and hung it on the door knob, we trained him to ring the bell every time he wanted to go outside. It took some time but he caught on.
Rio has improved immensely, all the time that we have spent on training him has not been in vain because he has made so much progress and we couldn’t be happier with the result. It feels good to come home and have him staring out the window with his tail wiggling, it feels good to have him welcome us with so much joy and you just can’t help but smile even when you’ve had a tough day. I love watching him run around in the backyard, how sometimes he would bring out his favorite toy waiting for me to grab it from him so we can play fetch. He loves it when you hug him, he definitely understand it when you’re in need of one. Rio has been a perfect addition to the family and although we wavered on the idea of having him in the beginning there is absolutely no doubt in our hearts now that we made the right decision in keeping him.It’s true, life will surprise you with little adventures like this. Dogs fill in a hollow in our hearts, a hollow we never knew existed until they come along and show us a kind of love and devotion we had been longing for.