13 Things Having a Dog has Taught Me

This week is Scout’s 13th Birthday! He has been the one constant in my life since I was eighteen years old. We have stayed up late writing college papers together, moved several times, and he has always been there to greet me when I get home. He’s my little sidekick. The last month his health hasn’t been the best. I wrote about our little emergency recently; Monthly Round-Up: Rose & Thorns – March 2021. As I’ve reflected on our life together, I wanted to share the things I’ve learned about being a dog mom over the past thirteen years. 

Don’t roll down the car window and take a sharp turn.

When Scout was just a year old, he loved to stick his head out the car window and let his little ears flap in the wind. One day while cruising around, I made a left-hand turn onto a small two-lane road, and the next thing I saw was Scout’s curly tail as he flew out of the window. Thankfully, the intersection was not busy at the time. In a panic, I pulled the car over and picked up a trembling and confused pug. I must have said I’m sorry a million times. And from that day forward, I’ve only cracked the windows slightly not to repeat my mistake.

Make sure they don’t lick another dog that just received a flea treatment.

When Scout was less than 6 months old he was playing with my sister’s dog who just received a topical flea treatment. While the dogs played in the living room, Scout managed to lick the flea treatment off of the other dog. He immediately became lethargic and started to foam at the mouth. In a panic, my mom’s husband called poison control. They suggested making a small bowl of water and tuna together to wash out his mouth. Surprisingly, this method worked. We wiped his face with a cloth and the water tuna mixture, and he slowly began to perk back up. A few hours later, it was like nothing happened. 


He may be hard of hearing, but he will always know when you’re in the kitchen.

Nowadays, to get Scout’s attention, he has to see you. Calling him by name won’t do the trick. However, by some miracle, every time I open the refrigerator, he magically appears. He can be sound asleep in the other room and suddenly be in the kitchen looking at me begging for a carrot chip. 

Carrots are the best treats.

Over the years I’ve spent a lot of money on treats, rawhides, and dog biscuits. I’ve found that a simple bag of carrot chips or carrot straws is just as rewarding as those expensive treats. Every time I’m in the produce section I pick up another pack of organic carrots and call it a day. If I feel like spoiling him, I may dip a fresh carrot in a jar of peanut butter for an extra special treat.

Find a vet you trust.

Scout has made many trips to the vet’s office in his life. When he was a puppy, it seems like he was allergic to everything. While the large majority of vets I took him to were wonderful, every once in a while, I would have a run-in with a vet who seemed less than interested in fixing his problems. Just like doctors for humans, I’ve learned not all vets are created equal. For me, building a relationship with a veterinarian’s clinic who is compassionate and experienced with issues with your dog exhibits has made the biggest difference in Scout’s quality of life.

Give them their own space.

Pugs are companion dogs. If they could sit by your side all day every day, they would. I have also found they like to have a space of their own. When Scout was a puppy, I crate trained him when I wasn’t home. As an older dog, he has a dog bed that he knows is his safe place. 

Pet hair is the best accessory.

I used to get so frustrated when Scout would cover my car seats in hair. Pet hair is a constant battle. I’ve learned to accept scouts’ hair will travel halfway around the world with me, no matter how many times I’ve lint rolled my shirt. Pugs shed year around. So I’ve collected an arsenal of lint rollers, brooms, and a high-powered vacuum cleaner to battle the fur.


They can be used as the best excuse to leave a gathering.

We’ve all been there. You want to leave a social gathering but feel like you need a reason to exit. It’s not so much an excuse, but on more than one occasion I’ve uttered the words, “I wish I could stay, but I’ve got to go take Scout out.” I learned this strategy for my few friends who have kids. 

They train you just as much as you (try to) train them.

Providing a routine is imperative when raising a puppy. Throughout Scout’s life, I’ve tried to keep him on a predictable schedule. Waking up early to take Scout out to use the bathroom when you don’t want to and making grooming appointments has also trained me to be responsible. I feel like Scout and I have our own language between us. I know when he is hungry, needs to go out, or isn’t feeling 100%.

Spay and neuter your pets early.

I didn’t neuter Scout until he was 8. I didn’t realize the older dogs get, the more high risk they become for being put under anesthesia. Had I known this, I would have definitely done it earlier. I was able to also schedule a teeth cleaning while he was neutered. The vet tech was nice enough to save the teeth they had to remove and put them in a little while for me to keep. I don’t know if this is weird or not, but I was hoping to have some jewelry out of them in the future. As of right now, they remain in the container. 

You’re not a bad dog parent if you forget poop bags.

I have been guilty on more than one occasion of rushing Scout outside to get the morning routine over with as quickly as possible, only to realize I forgot to refill the waste bag holder.


Just because you’re at the dog park doesn’t mean you have to play with the other dogs.

I used to take Scout to the dog park so he could run and play with other dogs. I found he would make his rounds and then find his way back to the table with the humans. Much like Scout, I didn’t like sitting at the dog park with my kind either. I finally had to ask myself why I was forcing him and myself to socialize with others when we’re content hanging out with our small circle of friends. The moral of the story, don’t force your dog or yourself to do things you don’t want to do. 

The tail tells it all.

Scout’s curly tail tells me everything I need to know about how he’s feeling. If it’s all the way curly, he’s happy, content, and loving life. An uncurled tail means I’m hot, I want to go inside, why are you continuing to take me on this walk. When he was sick last month, his tail was straight and sad. This was a huge red flag when I was trying to assess how sick he was feeling. One of the most appealing things about pugs is their cute curly tails. So the next time you see a pug, make sure their tail is curly, and if it’s not, a belly rub is always a good idea.

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5 thoughts on “13 Things Having a Dog has Taught Me

  1. My cats always look disappointed when I’m leaving the house if I’m not wearing “fur”. They just want to make certain you think about them when you’re not home. jerry

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