Helicopter Dog Mom-ing: A Guide

I had been wanting my own pup ever since I flew the coop. I grew up with the most wonderful Golden Retrievers and fully believe the saying, “a dog makes a house a home.”

Nothing can replace having a dog by your side 24/7.

I love cooking with them next to me while they wait for scraps to drop, having them accompany me on my runs, sitting on a big back porch and watching them frolic in the summer, and using them as a blankie in the winter while curled up on the couch.

Nothing. NOTHING. Replaces the company of a dog. Nothing.

After moving in with Keith last year, I tried my darndest to convince him that now was the time we should get a puppy. Of course, being the level-headed individual he is, he gave a firm and final “no” until we had a house and a yard (why is he always so responsible?! Also, does he know me at all? I do not take ‘no’ for an answer…). But, being the stubborn individual I am, I didn’t let up. For months, I sent him picture after picture of all my favorite breeds: Goldens, Bernese, Swissies… The man was not convinced. Finally, I took matters into my own hands and started conversing with a Cavapoo breeder I had found on KSL while we were on our Italy trip (hi, I’m Lia — the most impatient & impulsive human you’ll ever meet). I thought I’d be able to win Keith over if I could just get him to hold the pup. Who can say no to puppy kisses?

Two weeks after we returned home from Venice, we drove over to the park to pick up our new puppy. Keith was still not convinced (he’s a tough cookie). But I had negotiated the price down and done TONS of research on this breed (it met all his requirements — more on this below) so he was sort of starting to warm up to the idea. Also, I let him pick the sex of the dog (I was obviously ready to do practically anything to get this baby).

We drove up to a moving box full of black and white Cavapoo puppies. Ours was not in the box. Instead, our little derpy runt was running around like a maniac, asking all the strangers walking by for pets. The minute she saw us she ran over and jumped up on my leg. She seemed too brave and flirtatious for her own good and had a big personality for being so young (hence the name Scarlett O’Hara). Keith was 110% won over, and obviously, so was I. (Mission complete).

Scarlett’s siblings. I really wanted two, but knew Keith would break-up with me if I dared ask for another.

Scarlett has been with us for almost a year now. We thought we loved her then, but boy has she grown on us. Keith and I are absolutely head-over-heels for this baby of ours. We can’t imagine life without her. And her cat brother, Winston, has even grown to like her (okay, maybe that’s a bit strong — tolerate is probably a better word here).

Of course, it took a bit of time for Scarlett to settle-in to our home. Which brings me to the reason I’ve written this piece: I’ve had a few friends who are looking into adopting their own pup ask for advice. Therefore, I thought I’d share our experience and learnings with you here. Read on to learn how we chose her, prepped the house before bringing her home, potty trained her, and balance working full-time with being dog parents.

Choosing a Pup

Scarlett’s first day with us. She weighed 3.5 lbs. here.

Keith and I wanted to adopt a dog from the pound. Unfortunately, our living circumstances didn’t seem to allow for an unpredictable mutt at this time. We needed a breed that fit the specifications we were looking for: no shedding, quiet temperament, small but athletic, low-maintenance, good with kids/the elderly, great personality. Believe it or not, having all these needs makes it extremely hard to find what you’re looking for (haha). Thankfully, Keith and I met a cute Cavapoo while out at dinner one night and thought, “yea, that could definitely work.”

Cavapoos (also known as Cavadoodles) are a cross-breed between a Poodle and a Cavalier King Charles (ever seen Sex and the City? Charlotte York’s cute pup, Elizabeth Taylor). They tend to be anywhere from 8–20 lbs. (Scarlett is 11.5 lbs.), 9–14 inches tall, and have a life expectancy of 12–15 years. PetBreeds says Cavapoos are typically moderate maintenance, easy to train, slightly active, and good with kids (I’ll vouch for all the above). My Dad lovingly calls them rat-dogs, because according to him, toy breeds are not dogs. But that’s okay, he’ll warm-up to her next time he visits. 😉

As an animal lover, I have a negative connotation with the word, “breeder”. I also don’t think it is the best word to describe Scarlett’s previous owner. I say this because this was the woman’s only litter and she did not plan to breed more. Also, the Cavapoos are not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club. Regardless of the terminology, before buying from her, I did some (and by some, I mean alot) of research. If you also plan to go this route, I’d suggest investigating the seller, meeting the parent pups to gauge their personality, and checking out the home of where the dogs were birthed and raised.

There are also tons of great shelters in Utah if you’re looking to adopt. Here are some of my favorites:

Prepping Our Home

Right after I arranged to pick-up Scarlett from her previous owner, I began to ‘nest’. I hid all the cords, shoes, and ‘dangerous’ items we had lying around. This will make you feel really silly, but I recommend laying on the ground so you can have a view of what your pup will see — it will give you a better idea of all the mischief they can get into.

First shots

Then I arranged a vet appointment with Dr. Osguthorpe (knowledgeable and a great price) for the day we were to pick up our new pup. I wanted to make sure she was healthy and up-to-date on shots before we fell completely in love.

Side note: puppies will need about 3 rounds of shots and to be neutered/spayed within their first year. This costs about $500 total.

I also recommend getting your new friend micro-chipped. I got this done at Petco for $5.

Next, I ran to Petco to blow all my money on furbaby supplies. Not my smartest move (I was excited, OK?). I would definitely recommend price-comparison on Amazon first or asking dog-owning friends for hand-me-downs.

  • Kennel — Scarlett loved her kennel. Before she was 100% potty-trained and fixed, we would put her in here while we were at work or while we were sleeping. (She outgrew the need for it at around 8 months).
  • Gate(s) — We bought one so that Scarlett would not get into the cat food. Sadly, our cat is obese and could not jump over it (not a diet we wanted to try for him). I ended up giving it to a friend and using an ironing board to block off the entrance to the cat food instead.
  • Dog bowls/plates — We’ve got two bowls for water because Scarlett will only eat her meals off of a plate (such a princess). I also recommend getting an elevated feeder since it helps them to digest.
  • Collar and harness — Your pup will outgrow these FAST. Don’t invest in one you love until you’re sure they’re done growing
  • Leash with waste bags — Our dog walker recommended not getting a retractable leash since she’s seen lots of injuries as a result of using them.
  • Dog Bed
  • Anti-Chew Spray — Ask Keith about the time I bought a new coffee table and started crying when Scarlett decided to munch into it after two hours. This will save you from making my mistake (or, you know, don’t buy anything nice till they’re older).
  • Carpet Cleaner— Your pup is going to have accidents. It’s inevitable. You’ll still love them. Just don’t buy a new carpet anytime soon.
  • Chew toysballs, and antlers — Make sure your pup has plenty of toys to play with — especially while they’re chewing. Just make sure they’re age appropriate. My friend, David, recommends subscribing to BarkBox.
  • Brushshampootoothbrushnail clippers — Ask your groomer to show you how to do this before you do it on your own. (P.S. little dogs often need to go into the groomer once or twice a month to have their glands cleaned. You can do this at home, but Keith doesn’t want to and I don’t blame him cus I don’t want to either, haha).
  • Name tag — We got this done at Petco right after we adopted her.
  • Dog food and treats — I had Scarlett on a special puppy wet food diet for four months before doing 1/2 dry, 1/2 wet. At 10 months we went to full puppy dry food. I’ll be switching her to adult at one year. I recommend Blue Wilderness High Protein, Grain-Free dog food. My Dad suggested it to me when Scarlett was a pup. It’s what he gives our Golden Retriever, Beau. Both dogs love the taste and seem to thrive on it.
  • Heartworm pills — Pick these up at your vet’s office.
  • Sweaters — Winters in Utah can get cold.

Before bringing Scarlett home, I asked the previous owner if she could give me a blanket with the scent of Scarlett’s siblings on it. I then added this to Scarlett’s kennel, along with a covered hot water bottle and an old clock (the ‘ticks’ sound like her mom’s heartbeat, to make her feel more comfortable. Putting the kennel in your room may also help your dog become more accustomed during the first few nights.

Potty Training

Winston & Scarlett – our ‘mini cows’

This is a section I really have no business writing.

Keith gets full credit for potty training her because he was the one getting up every 2–3 hours (each month = one hour your dog can hold it) to take her out during the night (I’m dating a saint). He also added grass to our balcony so that neither of us would have to walk all the way outside to take her out while potty training during the winter (I’m dating a saint AND a genius. #1 rule of adopting a dog: get a great partner to do it with you, ha). During the day we had dog walkers from Train Walk Poopcome 2–3x for the first few months so that we wouldn’t have to leave work. I HIGHLY recommend you try their services out. I never had to worry and Scarlett loved them. Plus, you’ll get cute pictures of your doggy while you’re in meetings and that’s just the absolute best.

You could also try taking your pup to puppy classes. Disclaimer: Keith and I signed Scarlett up for training classes at Petco, but they were geared towards much bigger dogs (aka dogs that looked like they wanted to make Scarlett their snack). Therefore, Scarlett really only knows one command, “sit”. But guys, she’s great at it. And honestly, whenever she’s being naughty I just pick her up, cus she’s so small. She hates it, but it’s pretty comical for the rest of us.

Puppy Life As A Working Adult

Diggity Dog tells us she’s a water baby

Having a dog while working can be tough. THANK GOD for Diggity Dog Resort. We still don’t have a yard and can’t come home from work that often to let Scarlett out, so she goes to doggy daycare 4-5x a week (I can feel you rolling your eyes) and it totally wears her out (win, win). She loves her friends there and they love her so much. I love getting pictures of her playing in the pool during the summer. It’s the cutest. (Bonus: Diggity Dog also offers grooming, training, and boarding for both small and large dogs!)

Since Keith and I work so much during the week, we try to spend as much time with Scarlett on the weekends as we possibly can. We love to go to the dog park and on hikes with her, but we also take her on ‘human’ errands to. Most of the coffee shops and restaurants around here know her name by now, haha.

Favorite Dog Parks in Salt Lake City

  • Memory Grove — She loves this one because there is a pond for her to play in.
  • Lindsey Gardens — Lots of little dogs tend to go here and there is a nice fountain during the summer.
  • Sugarhouse Park — This park has lots of space to run around in, but don’t let your dog drink the water in the pond. It’s full of dangerous bacteria (there are lots of signs posted about it).

Favorite Dog-Friendly Hikes in Salt Lake City

Favorite Dog-Friendly Restaurants in Salt Lake City

My car is stocked with dog supplies for all of our adventures. Here are a few I recommend adding to your in case of emergency stash:

Please remember not to leave your pup in the car during the summer months. Even if you’re running into the store to grab something only for a few moments. It gets incredibly hot in there and can be fatal. Sign the Humane Society’s Pledge to Never Leave Your Pet in a Hot Car.

A photo from our hike last weekend up Tibble Fork Canyon

Having a dog is a HUGE responsibility and one which should not be taken lightly (case in point: while writing this post I had to take Scarlett out twice to go potty and once for a run/swim at Memory Grove. She’s currently laying under my chair while she waits for her bath). Dogs are for life, and in my opinion, should be considered part of your family.

I hope this helps anyone considering adopting their new buddy. Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions or advice for anyone reading this post.

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