Iâ€™ve had my dog, Archie, since he was eight weeks old; heâ€™s two now. During the time Iâ€™ve had him, there have been many ups and downs â€“ thankfully, more ups â€“ and now I canâ€™t imagine life without my furry friend.
It is very hard work though, bringing up a puppy, and no matter how prepared you think you are, if youâ€™ve never had a puppy or a dog before, youâ€™re going to have the shock of your life. I know I did.
I didnâ€™t rush into things. I researched dog breeds. I read up on life with a dog, and what Iâ€™d need for my puppy during the early days, but nothing I read prepared me for how overwhelmed Iâ€™d feel.
Puppies bring with them a lot of love; there are all the cuddles, the joy of seeing them romping through the grass like little lambs, and the fact they follow you everywhere. There are lots of pluses, obviously, to getting a puppy, but there are a whole host of things you wonâ€™t have considered, simple things: you wonâ€™t be able to leave any of your stuff out if you want it to remain intact; lie-ins are cancelled; TV programmes interrupted; not being able to eat in peace â€¦ all because thereâ€™s a little puppy demanding your attention.
And then thereâ€™s all the messy stuff and Iâ€™m not just talking about poop scooping, but clearing up diarrhoea and vomit; cleaning your puppyâ€™s bottom when heâ€™s got poo stuck on it; cleaning your puppy when heâ€™s been digging; the constant battle over muddy paws on the carpet; the fact your home looks like a bombâ€™s hit it when your puppyâ€™s let loose.
Maybe it wonâ€™t be such a shock to everyone, getting a puppy for the first time. Iâ€™m sure many people will be far more laid back than I was, but judging by the number of puppies (and dogs) which are given up each year, other people have found bringing up a puppy hard work.
My husband and I havenâ€™t got kids, but one of my husbandâ€™s work colleagues told him theyâ€™d found bringing up a puppy harder than bringing up a baby! It just goes to show that a tiny puppy can have a massive impact on your life.
I worried whether we were doing things the right way. Getting a puppy made me more anxious. In all the excitement, I didnâ€™t anticipate this. It would have helped if I had â€“ I donâ€™t think I would have been so hard on myself. I felt like I was a terrible person for not being able to enjoy Archie during those early days.
Two years on and Iâ€™m so much more confident and relaxed â€“ Archie smearing himself in fox poo doesnâ€™t faze me. Most importantly of all Iâ€™ve got a happy, healthy, and gorgeous dog.
To find out more about Helen and Archie go to: