This is the truth: I got the blues after we adopted Jellybean. Bad. I was crying frequently, unsure if we'd made the wrong choice by adopting him, and honestly grieving my old life with just me, Grace, and Willie. I had a constant knot in my stomach worrying how this little crying baby would ever fit into our household and whether we'd ever have peace and quiet again!
Well, here's the reality 4 months later: I LOVE Bean and while my life and schedule has been altered since bringing him home, I also can't imagine things being any different now. And the other piece of that is that yes, puppies do learn. I feel like one minute we were in the thick of house training, worrying that our home would forever smell like urine, and the next minute I looked up and realized I can't even remember the last time Bean went to the bathroom in the house. Grace has been so patient and diligent in training him. We'd never trained basic commands before (because we always adopted older dogs who already knew them), and it turns out it's SO rewarding and astonishing how puppies learn.
Having Jellybean has taught me so much about how things grow. It might sound cheesy or hyperbolic, but watching a puppy grow is pure magic. Seeing with my own eyes these past few months that puppies grow, flowers bloom, wounds heal, and winter turns to spring has been so life giving and special for me.
I wrote once that Casper taught me that all things can be redeemed. I felt so privileged to get to witness his story, from abuse and neglect (and accompanying severe aggression) to the good life in his old age. He died more at peace than I think most humans can ever hope for. But in this new season of life raising Bean, I've learned about redemption all over again, in a different way. I've learned how a new being on this earth sees things and understands them for the first time, and how what seems like an annoying crying baby at first can turn your whole world upside down with love.
The point of this post is to say this: you are not alone if you bring home a dog (or any pet) and wonder if you're regretting it! I just wanted to share my experience of post-adoption depression in the hopes that it might encourage someone who is going through it. I truly believe that for the vast majority of people, it is impossible to care for a living being and have it rely on you for sustenance and NOT fall in love with it. It's just a biological response. I'm sure there are exceptions, but give it enough time, and I really think that fears that you won't love a pet are unfounded in the end. How long? I'd honestly say it took Grace and me about a month to really love Bean. That's not to say we weren't sweet on him and didn't give him affection and take care of him during that time--of course we did. But to get to the point where I got so excited just to see him when I got home from work (in addition to Willie) and just wanted to scoop him up and kiss his snout all the time, it took a little while! I feel almost weird admitting that, but maybe it will help give someone hope who feels the same.
After talking to a few people who have adopted dogs, I realize how common this feeling is. Grace certainly had it when she first got Casper; she bonded with him quickly but wondered if she was in over her head. And it was hard to immediately love Willie, too, especially while we were grieving Casper at the same time. But I kind of think a puppy has an especially steep loving-curve, if you will. They might destroy things in your house, pee on your nice rug, bark and cry in the night, eat things that give them diarrhea, and generally be a terror. It's easy to miss your old life when things were simpler, and you could sleep in past 6:30! (at least I did). But if you fake it til you make it, I really do believe that your attachment to the dog will catch up with the dog's learning and bonding with you as well. And the good news is that the more bonded you are with the dog, the easier training becomes, because the dog already WANTS to please you. The dog loving YOU isn't always automatic, either! But a dog's love and needs are so simple that a mutual attachment and fierce love is, in my opinion and experience, all but inevitable. A month of waiting for the bond to fully take root will undoubtedly feel like a lifetime, but the years of precious memories and good times as a family are so worth it.