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Why owning puppies turns your 'brain to mush'




Washed Up column by Sarah Juggins (Award-winning author of The History Makers and Under An Orange Sky)

As someone who hasn’t had children myself I have always had limited sympathy for women who claim their brains have gone to mush while they are raising young children.

How can the natural act of child-rearing turn normally perfectly intelligent women into such helpless creatures? It’s just an excuse for letting standards slip, I thought.

Washed Up, by Sarah Juggins. Pictures: SUBMITTED
Washed Up, by Sarah Juggins. Pictures: SUBMITTED

But I am now publicly offering a contrite apology. Even as I retrieve the pepper pot from the fridge, I can only say I am so very sorry for doubting the whole baby = brain mush thing.

Because, and I know it’s not quite the same thing, I have two eight-week-old puppies and my brain has fallen into a befuddling morass.

The puppies have been part of our household for five days and I have never been more tired.

Chester and Pepper have been keeping Lynn News columnist Sarah Juggins' hands full
Chester and Pepper have been keeping Lynn News columnist Sarah Juggins' hands full

It’s all about getting them into a routine I am told by the very informative Kennel Club website. The problem is that little Chester and Pepper don’t quite get that principle.

The day starts well enough. I go downstairs and instantly carry both pups outside to carry out their toiletry requirements. Then it’s breakfast. Then it’s mayhem.

Just as you are praising one of the puppies for asking to go outside, the other one will find a quiet corner to wee in.

As you try to clear that up, you will have a puppy hanging off the cloth or mop. The play pen is an open invitation to turn into a Houdini hound and anything that is left within reach – shoes, socks, belts, mats and cushions – all get dragged outside.

The Kennel Club advises that you don’t over-exercise them. But these dogs are so full of energy that if you kept them to the recommended five minutes twice a day, they would tear the house down.

Back to the idea of routine. To get the dogs to sleep through the night, it is essential that they don’t sleep in the evening.

It’s been five days and not once have I been able to keep the dogs awake past seven o’clock. They sleep soundly for three hours and at 10pm they are ready to play.

They also only sleep for short periods, about three or four hours at most. I have seen parts of the early morning that I last saw during my wilder 20s. I had forgotten what 2am, 3am and 4am looked like and felt like.

Still, it does give me a valid excuse if there are any typos or errors in this text – simply blame my puppy-mushed-brain.


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