Puppy Love At First Sight… Or Not?

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Meeting your dog for the first time is unforgettable.

And if you love dogs, you probably loved your dog very much when you met them. And you likely realized that your life was about to change.

But we can’t ever prepare ourselves for the lifetime of love ahead.

Even when you love that dog, because they’re a cute dog and they’re coming home with you – you don’t yet know what makes them special, and you have no idea what they’re about to bring into your life. It takes years for that love to grow.

I Finally Realized Why This Topic Has Been On My Mind

For a long time, I’ve been wanting to write about whether we fall in love with our dogs at first sight, or if it’s normal to not quite love them right away. And whether our dogs love us right away, or if it takes a while for them to get to know us and truly love us.

I’ve been really thinking about how to approach this topic, and why it means so much to me.

When I finally started writing about it, I realized why this is such a special topic for me.

It’s because I didn’t really love any of my dogs when I first met them.

For none of them was there ever a special Charlie Brown meets Snoopy moment.

And I’ve been obsessed with dogs since I was about five years old. Dogs are monumental in my life, and meeting a dog for the first time, that was going to be mine, should have been beautiful Disney moments, but none of them were.

When my parents surprised me and took me to the Westie breeder when I was 10 years old to bring home my childhood dog Nicky… I was confused, in shock, and didn’t know how to feel. I cried at night because of a sense of guilt. Maybe I felt I didn’t deserve a puppy, or I felt guilty about taking him away from his family. He was nervous and skittish, and even though I was happy to finally have a dog, I wasn’t … in love at first sight.

When I moved to California to meet Matilda, my tiny chihuahua-minpin mix, who had been set aside for me by a friend of a friend… this is a story I need to tell another day. In essence, she was born in a place of incredible neglect. She was dirty and unsafe and skittish, and she didn’t want anything to do with me.

Which is fair, because humans had never done anything for her before. I was excited to get my first dog of my own, as a 20-year old, but it wasn’t until we overcame so much together that the love really happened.

Matilda and Cow starting to get along at about eight months old

When I met Cow a few weeks later, I was still adjusting to Matilda, trying to keep her safe from all of the bad things around us. One of those things was dogs much bigger than her. Cow was neglected by my neighbor, so every time I took Matilda outside, I had to try to keep this big, hyper, annoying puppy from jumping all over her. I didn’t have the resources to help her, and I didn’t want to get attached to her. I actually didn’t want her near us at all.

But she didn’t listen. She followed us everywhere. She kept Matilda safe from bigger dogs in the neighborhood. She forced me to stretch my love and my resources and to find a way. And the three of us, well, we found a way.

Your Meet-Cutes and Puppy Love-At-First Sights (Or not)

I wanted to know if other dog parents had also had mixed feelings when they met their dogs for the first time, or if everyone else was just had special memories filled with pure joy.

I enjoyed reading both love-at-first sight stories and those that were a bit different than the expected Disney-magical-moment.

Thank you so much to those who contributed!

Gail and Roxie’s Story

“Roxie our long haired chihuahua was rehomed to us at the age of 4 ½ years. We knew her previous owner and had met Roxie several times when she travelled for a visit to our city. 

Roxie was from a household of 3 dogs in total. As the dogs grew to become 3 to 4 years old fighting started. The owner said it was Roxie who caused the issues and after trying to stagger crate times, it was determined that she should go to a new home. Our household of 3 adults and a young teen wanted her.”

Lindsay/LDT: Was it love at first sight?

Gail: Yes, I wanted Roxie from the first time I held her at age 4 months. However, After seeing the chaos presented by all 3 dogs during subsequent visits, I didn’t hold the same feelings. She was an untrained yappy chihuahua…..albeit adorable.

Did your dog fall in love with you right away?

G: Roxie was confused being with us after she was rehomed, however, she was very sweet and we all fell in love with her and showered her with attention.  Did she take a while to warm up to her new people?, I’m sure yes, but she’s such an affectionate girl, she showed us we were special and more importantly, she knew she was safe and comfortable.

Question#3:  at 4 ½ years old, Roxie was not house trained, did not walk on a leash, and barked at everything that moved.  But with patience, perseverance and most importantly, understanding that this was all new to her, she has blossomed into the most perfect dog for this family. 

I think the pivotal moment happened a couple months after she came to us.  She had been sleeping on the couch beside me while I watched television and realizing she should go outside to potty, I presented what seemed like the never ending statement ‘Roxie, let’s go outside…..do you need to pee???’ – she hopped off the couch did a little stretch and a cute couple of spins, wagging excitedly, and followed me to the door, right out to do her business and quickly back inside after to receive her treat. 

I remember thinking that this dog is the love of our lives and could not believe that she was ours.  The timing to have her was perfect, we accepted her as she was and the bonus is her connection to us and her understanding of us.   She is perfectly house trained and we couldn’t ask for a better companion.  And, she is perfect on her leash walks.

Did you choose your dog – or did they choose you? I guess we chose her, however, it was Roxie who made the decision to really and truly join us, so you could say she chose us. 

Shari and Forest’s Story

Special thanks to Sheri from Wild Forest Adventures sled dog touring for sharing her story of her incredible BFF Forest.

Lindsay/LDT: Did you fall in love with your dog the moment you met him or her? Or was it NOT love at first sight?
Shari: Well, our situation was kind of special. I was working with sled dogs at the time. The owner of these dogs is now a really good friend of mine and he offered me a puppy from a litter that was not born yet. By the time the pups were born, I was not at this place anymore but I got to see the four pups every day on Skype, from the moment they were born. I knew I wanted a male and there were two of them, they looked exactly the same (still do), one was just a bit smaller.

While his siblings would run around, chase each other and be rowdy, he would just lay on the blanket and contently cuddle or chew on a toy. It was so peaceful to watch. In a nutshell, my love for Forest grew over the course of 3 months just by watching him every day.

LDT: Did your dog love you right away, or did he or she take a while to warm up to you?
I finally got to meet Forest in real life when he was 4 months old and we hit it off right away. Sled dogs are usually very well socialized and out going. From day one, we were inseparable.

Was there a pivotal moment in your relationship that made you realize, “Wow, I really love my dog!”?
There were so many! Forest and I raced all over Europe in skijoring (that’s me cross country skiing and him pulling in front of me), we even became German Champions. After every run I realize just how much he gives me, he always gives 120%, even in training. Another time, Forest protected me from four men trying to break into my RV by standing in the door and not giving an inch, giving them no room to walk by him.

Andrea & Rocco’s Story

Special thanks to Andrea, founder of the AllThingsChihuahua blog and parent to four Chihuahuas, for telling her story of how Rocco made her a fan and advocate of the breed!

Lindsay/LDT: Did you fall in love with your dog the moment you met him or her? Or was it NOT love at first sight?
Andrea: Ah…well…it wasn’t. I was a dog groomer, but had never actually owned or lived with a dog before. I had a list of breeds I definitely didn’t want to live with, and chihuahuas are on that list. Sooo, guess which breed my husband wanted? I was very displeased that he made that choice.

Did your dog love you right away, or did he or she take a while to warm up to you?
A: Rocco loved me instantly. He had a very warm personality, and was super adorable about everything he did. He also quickly learned basic commands, and didn’t do any of the more negative things chihuahuas are known for. It’s really hard to stay frosty when he’s bringing you toys, posing in ridiculous play bows, and showing you just how amazing he can be.

Was there a pivotal moment in your relationship that made you realize, “Wow, I really love my dog!”
A: I fell madly in loved with Rocco almost immediately after we got him. He didn’t bark or bite. He didn’t mind getting his nails done and would brush his own teeth! Pretty cool for a chihuahua. Because of him, I understood the breed a little better. The more I understood the breed, the easier it was to groom them at work. Suddenly, I was the chihuahua person 😛 It’s fine now though. I’m crazy about them! <3

We went on tons of glorious adventures together after I got him, as I quickly looked up what you could do with a dog and started trying things out. We went to sports together, participated in scientific studies on dog behavior, and traveled everywhere. He’s now 13, but still likes to ‘work’ by making little videos with me. This is the last one we did (watch now on YouTube: Rocco stars in The Christmas Bath) and we’re working on a noir mystery right now.

Lindsay: That’s amazing! The acting, the video editing, the ET homage! See you at the Oscars, Rocco!

Why did you choose your dog – or did he/she choose you?
Rocco needed help. He had worms so badly that he was just about ready to die. We took him directly from where we got him to the vet, and after pooping out an unreal amount of frightening, huge, AWFUL spaghetti like worms, he was just fine. I’m very glad we got him. <3 Chihuahuas are my first choice now.

Christina & Luca’s Story

Special thanks to Christina for sharing her homecoming story of tiny baby Luca – and the very precious photos that have us falling in love with him too!

Lindsay/LDT: Did you fall in love with your dog the moment you met him or her? Or was it NOT love at first sight?

I fell in love with Luca, my 16 month-old Chihuahua, immediately!  He was so tiny and he had this perfect little apple head and soulful eyes.  

Did your dog love you right away, or did he or she take a while to warm up to you?

Luca was a little apprehensive at first, but once I brought him home and he started walking around the canine wonderland I had turned my living room into, he was hooked.  Yes, I resorted to buying his affection and I’d do it again!  

Seriously, I knew he felt completely comfortable with me when he was about nine weeks old.  We’d just finished a training and play session and I was sitting cross-legged on the floor.  He just toddled over to me, rested his head on my leg and fell fast asleep. It was the cutest thing I’d ever seen (I attached the picture I took). 

Was there a pivotal moment in your relationship that made you realize, “Wow, I really love my dog!”?

Yes!  Luca was about the size of a large hamster when I brought him home.  Just a few days into our relationship, he crawled up my chest and onto my shoulder, nuzzled his tiny head into my neck and fell asleep.  It was one of the best feelings and I didn’t move until he woke up!

Why did you choose your dog – or did he/she choose you?

It was definitely Luca’s eyes.  I just knew immediately that he had the sweetest demeanor with a dash of mischief.  I was all in from the start!

Lindsay PevnyLindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You’ll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.


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