People often laugh or look at me with confusion when I tell them I have a fur child. Thing is my fur child, Winnie is just like a child to me, she is my baby and I love her to bits. Even though I’ve always had dogs in my life, I’ve never had my own and I’ve never quite had the same bond as I do with my dog Winnie. So when Petplan (who look after my Dog Insurance) got in touch asking me about my best friend, and to share my #PetHoodStory I felt I should highlight how relationships with our four-legged friends have changed. Somehow our dogs have become strongly embedded family members to us all, more so than ever before and I completely agree! I’d do anything to protect mine.

This blog post couldn’t come at a better time as we celebrate Winnie’s birthday. My furry friend turned 2 years old, so she is officially no longer my puppy, regardless of me still calling her puppy! With her turning 2 years old, it got me reflecting on the impact getting a dog has had on mine and my husband’s lives, and quite honestly, I cannot imagine not having her now.

Winnie is a Shih Tzu poodle cross

It took me a good 5 years to wear down my husband into getting a dog as I came from a household of dogs whereas he hadn’t. Plus this wasn’t a decision we took lightly, getting a dog is a big thing in terms of money and time. Our household pet had always been a pedigree cocker spaniel so initially, I was looking for a cocker spaniel breed as I knew those the best. I’ll be completely honest I didn’t want another pure breed, because in my experience they often can have health issues. I loved the idea of a cockerpoo, but after I did my research for months I realised they were a sought after breed making them expensive. We then went down the rescue dog route, but I was concerned if we were to have children, I would never really know their past, so I wanted to raise a dog from a puppy myself. But afterwards, we agreed that perhaps, later on, we’d get a rescue dog.

Choosing your dog

I’d been on all the dog websites looking for the perfect pooch to join our family when I saw two adverts. One was for a cockerpoo and the other shihpoo, which is a Shih Tzu poodle cross. At this point, I was leaning more towards getting a cockerpoo just because of my knowledge with a cocker spaniel. We pulled up to this home to meet the cockerpoos and got a chance to handle them, they were adorable but my gut was telling me these weren’t the ones, so our search continued. The lady who had one remaining shihpoo text to say the puppy was still available. My husband was actually more eager for this one, but I just kept thinking how small the dog could be and that they wouldn’t be very active, but I humoured my husband and we went along.

Breeders and buying your dog

We met this lovely lady called Kate, who had bred her own dog Sandy with her daughter’s dog Sooty, just so they could add another dog to their family. They would keep one and the three others would be homed elsewhere. The breeder had named the dogs, but obviously, we could rename if we were to take her. There was Nelly, Kizzy, Henry and Winnie. We were there to look at Winnie, the last little puppy looking for a home. Well, we both fell in love with this little girl, my husband especially. So 10 minutes after leaving Kate and the puppies, I text her to confirm we wanted her and so we waited to collect her.

Collection of Winnie happened on my birthday in September, and from there on we trained her and watched our little girl grow. Being crossed with a poodle she has managed to gain long legs, so our shihpoo is a good size and absolutely adores to run. We basically found our perfect dog, who loved a cuddle but also enjoyed playtime. One thing I will say if you’re here looking for advice on getting a dog, do your research on your breed first. Different breeds bring different traits and have different needs, for example, a border collie for someone in a flat who doesn’t exercise much is not a good match, because that kind of breed needs lots of space and plenty of exercises! Take a look at Petplan’s Most Popular Dog Breeds for more information. If you get a crossbreed as I did, you’ll obviously get traits from both breeds so do your investigations before you buy or adopt.

walking the dog in autumn
Getting your dog sorted

Getting your puppy settled is huge and it took a good few months for Winnie so it does take patience. Even though some people don’t, I would suggest looking into pet insurance, as you never know and vets bills can get expensive. I’ve had that drilled into me with all the problems our previous dogs had, always get pet insurance! You can have a read about the Petplan Pet Insurance on that website too.

My advice

Train your dog early! That is my takeaway from getting Winnie, as it has truly paid off. She automatically sits at curbs and looks to get the all-clear to cross, she comes back when you call her, she is happy to sit in pubs, walk through busy streets, and more importantly, she is kind. If you tell her to give you kisses she licks you, and if you tell her to go fetch a toy, for example, her favourite toy lamby, she will go find that specific toy and bring it to you. I could gush about my girl all day! Getting a dog has completed our family.

Petplan encourages pet owners to share their pethood stories, so make sure you go tell the world about your animal family addition. How has your pet changed your family?

*Post in collaboration with Petplan