BECOMING A DOG PARENT - PUPPY ADVENTURES WITH VERA
If you’re like me, you’re winging it with your first dog. Sure, you research when you need to, but otherwise you’re relying on a gallimaufry of guesses, hunches, half-recalled pieces of bad advice, theories gleaned from TV, scraps of overheard conversations, and, of course, expectations.
EXPECTATIONS OF A NEW DOG PARENT
When I got Vera (Full Name: Vera de Milo), heres’s what I “knew”:
She ain’t never wearing clothes (what kinda weirdo garbs their dog?)
She gon’ be STROWNG (what’s up with these people pushing pooches in strollers?)
She gon’ up my game (my lil’ princess gotta find me a queen)
She’ll be my best friend (never talks (back), always does what I wanna do, never has her own ideas, etc. etc.)
REALITY OF A NEW DOG PARENT
I was right about one thing (the bitch is STRONG, but I carry her when necessary). She shuns the desired demographic (seems averse to even the vaguest suggestion of nubility). My plans more often than not revolve around her (don’t matter if I want to stay out, she needs to be fed). She’s family (we keep each other physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy). And she has clothes. And rubber boots. Costumes even. A lil’ white frilly thing for special occasions. More than a few festive frocks. Her collection started her first winter, about 10 months after she joined the household.
During said winter, she donned coats to brave the cold outside and onesies to stay cozy indoors, and with the emergence of spring, I packed away her clothes. Yet even before our first walk, Vera had started acting up. She was more timid. She wined and pawed at the drawer where I kept her food (and clothes!) even after she’d eaten. When not in my arms, she sought haven within her travel crate, usually reserved for punishment time. We went on a few walks and made it a point to take her to meet her favorites among my friends. Sure, she was happy to see them, but even they noticed a difference in her demeanor.
WHY DO PARENTS CLOTHE THEIR DOGS?
One night I took her to the dog cafe down the street and asked the trainer what the hell was up with my pup. It was clear she’d diagnosed the situation mid-story but she let me continue, saving her wisdom til the end. “She feels naked. She’s embarrassed. Just put something on her.” Perhaps this is nothing new to those who prepared to own a dog, but to me, this was astonishing. Astonishing, super-cute, and silly, even. That she needed to be clothed. That it went beyond protecting her paws from a concrete cooked under an ever-torrid sun, or ensuring she remain warm during winter after a trip to the puppy salon, or even simply protecting that shih tzu skin what with its well-known susceptibility to skin disorders. That she didn’t just have clothes—that she had to have clothes.
It blew my mind to know she could feel shame, and not just the casual fat-shaming from being called a fat-ass, or being referred to as ‘The Pudge,’ or getting her belly fat played like a trumpet. Call me guilty of underestimating the emotional intelligence of a dog. I’ll admit to that.
Anyways, with this revelation as a guide, I took Vera home intent on getting my old pupper back. And indeed, the second I pulled out a frock, she went mad with excitement. With paws outstretched and those giant shih tzu eyeballs she pleaded to be swathed. Naturally, I dumped out all of her clothes and enjoyed the chaos as she flitted from one outfit to the next, until I finally remembered my mission. I was relieved and happy, albeit slightly miffed at the thought that this might add to the cost of caring for her, as the budget expands to account for seasonally-appropriate gear and puppy-safe detergent.
BLOSSOMING AS DOG PARENT
Fortunately, however, I was spared these expenses as her need for clothing was just a phase. A mere year later and Ms. de Milo was just as comfortable in clothing as out. She loves her clothes as much as she loves her freedom from, but still not as much as a new onesie.
(She f*cking HATES boots though.)
About this dog. Vera de Milo was born on January 2, 2014. She joined Team Tejada about 6 weeks later in Late February. She doesn’t bark (unless playing), bite (anymore), shed, poop or pee inside, or approach women of a nubile age. She knows that, if one were so inclined, one could follow her antics at vera_vision on Instagram.