In June 2017, I became a parent for the first time; a dog parent. My fiance and I welcomed home the first dog he and I had ever owned independently. His name is Grayson Richard after Dick Grayson of the Batman comics. He is a Blue Nose Pitbull with a ton of energy and human-like mischievousness. I love him to pieces but truth be told, neither my fiance nor I was ready for what we had signed up for. Regardless, I have learned a lot about dogs and myself since our plunge into dog parenthood.

The first thing I learned upon Grayson’s arrival was another level of sacrifice. Our space had to change, our availability had to change, our concentration became amplified. While he was still a tiny puppy, there was an overwhelming concern for keeping this little bundle of life happy and healthy. This often meant, and still means the excessive spending of money to ensure he is never bored, ill or malnourished even if it means less for the adults of the house. I thought romantic relationships were inconvenient, it turns out I didn’t know what true inconvenience really is until taking on this venture.

Since becoming a dog parent, I’ve become more inspired to get moving. As Grayson grew, so did his energy and we immediately realized we needed to put in work to keep up with him. He carries a lot of weight with his puppy-like wildness and stamina which requires us to be not only in physical shape ourselves but also quick-minded. In order to prevent utter chaos in our home, I had to learn the patterns of Grayson’s personality and teach myself to think at least one step ahead of him. In our home, this means always having cleaning materials ready and keeping the doors to certain rooms in the house shut when he’s roaming about.

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The most important thing I’ve learned about myself with Grayson around is my actual level of patience. I used to consider myself relatively slow to frustration until I adopted a dog. Every bit of his adjustment required steady repetition, failures, and revelations. There are some days he appears to be the most precious and obedient son a dog parent could have. Other days, it’s like having a demon spawn in the house! Whichever day it is, I am constantly challenged to bring my best self to the situation along with the proper training tools and a heart full of love. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never fallen short of this but over time I have improved tremendously and so has he. I have to remember that even though we understand each other sometimes, we do not speak the same language nor do we have the same instincts. Once I get back into the mental and spiritual inner space of accepting Gray where he is in his learning, we enjoy each other a lot more.

I am not the same person I was before being a dog mom. I was forced to grow so that I could be the best support for my puppy. He challenges me daily to do better, to speak up, to share, to have fun and observe the little things. I do not recommend this journey to everyone as it requires a great deal of time, love and dedication. It may not suit every personality or situation. Although I did not know what I was getting in to, I’m glad I got into it. I truly have no regrets.

If you’d like to see what Grayson is up to, follow #graysonrichardthepit on Instagram.