10 Things I’ve Learned in My First Year with a Dog

Happy Monday, Penny Darlings!

It’s a beautiful day here in the Darling HQ. Preston & I opened our play last week – so I apologize for being a bit off the grid last week! We were rehearsing like crazy! I have some exciting things that I can’t wait to announce (not pregnant!) so stay tuned on your tippy-toes!

Let me just sneak the boring stuff so we can get to the goods! Check me out on Instagram here!  I also have a selling Instagram page where I sell some of my old clothes/styles so that I don’t drown in my own wardrobe.

The days are getting cooler and crisper, the nights are chilly, and I am LIVING for the fall vibes!

As we approach the end of September, we’re nearing Charlie’s ‘gotcha’ day – or rather the day that we adopted him from the rescue! He’s my little schmoo and the second I met him, I totally fell in love.

He’s a Morkie Poo Mix (maltese/yorkie/poodle mutt), weighs about eight pounds, loves wearing sweaters and costumes, is a totally cuddle bug, is a little yippee, and loves swimming in his shark life jacket.

When we adopted him, I had no idea how novice we were at having a dog – but we’ve learned a lot this year! Today, I teamed up with my friends at West Paw to share what Preston & I have learned!


West Paw is a company based in Montana! They create adorable, ethical, sustainable, and durable pet products of all kinds! There’s everything from toys, to collars & leashes, to dog beds and everything in between!

I love the idea that West Paw have a program to recycle dog toys and leashes to keep reusable materials out of landfills, are a small community oriented business, and above all care about the DOGS!

*Another adorable feature on the West Paw website is that the chew toys are all rated by durability for longer play for even the toughest chewers!*


1.) Dogs are truly good for the soul.

There’s a tiny creature who wants nothing more than to love you. They want to snuggle, play, give kisses, and are so excited to see you when you come home that their butts wiggle out of control.

It’s a type of unconditional love that’s tough to match. Charlie has literally licked tears off my cheeks on bad days, I love that he snuggles every night with Preston & I, and he is quick to jump on anyone’s lap! He’s even melted my dad’s crabby exterior!




2.) They have their own personalities.

My grandfather use to describe his dogs as “clever” and “wise” and I always was sitting there thinking, “Dudley is a cockapoo that eats rocks…he is NOT wise.”.

One year later, I totally can tell & predict Charlie’s personality and I can see it in other dogs too! One of Charlie’s besties is a little Frenchie who we always describe as a “Queen” who is a little aloof, independent, and demanding of attention. Another neighbor pup is a Border Collie who wants to constantly play, pet, with boundless energy, and a big old smile-y face. Charlie will just jump up on your lap and force his friendship on you and loves to get carried around. He’s friendly & loud!

Dogs have such unique personalities & I used to think people who talked about their pets like that were nuts…but I was wrong!





3.) You learn your dog’s behavior.

Charlie is a literal baby about being tired. If he’s disturbed while he’s sleeping or tired, he’ll snip or snarl. Not to be mean, he just doesn’t like to be woken up!

He’ll bark and bark at strangers – until you reach down and pet him. He is such a little attention diva.

If he gets a ‘bad dog’ with a wagging finger, he’ll run to the other parent and sit on their feet with his ears back.

Charlie has learned how to pull the blankets off the bed if he’s ready to get up and we’re still asleep (luckily, he’ll stay in bed mostly as long as we want to!).

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4.) Always plan for the unpleasantly unexpected.

So far in having Charlie, here’s a few gems we’ve had happen.

Charlie has thrown up ON me three different times. Two of those times were in the SAME car trip.

I ran to the gas station (only gone 10 minutes) and I came back and he had ripped open a bakery box and had eaten three HUGE Christmas cupcakes, then proceeded to throw up and poop very festively for the next four hours and shake from a sugar overload.

He pulled an entire trashcan over and dragged all the contents all over the house, mostly consisting of used feminine products.

There was a hole in the dog park fence, and Charlie is teeny-tiny and snuck through it.

Charlie has literally fear-pooped twice. One time, he barked at a big (super nice & gentle) Rottie, she barked back at him, and he pooped himself. Second time, he got underfoot while some friends were moving a mattress, it started to fall, and instead of running away – he just pooped.




5.) Dogs are good for depression.

As a person who has struggled on and off with depression, having a dog is a totally a relief.

Some depression days, it can seem impossible to get up or get dressed or to eat. But even on those dark days, I still had to get up & get ready to take Charlie for a walk and figured if I fed him that I should feed myself. He was a creature that depended on me to exist.

Obviously, I’m not a doctor, but having a creature with unconditional love is pretty top notch in my book.




6.) Sometimes…he’s just a dog.

We tend to personalize dogs and constantly expect perfect behavior.

He’s a dog. We can’t be mad at him that he doesn’t understand that he can’t stand too close to a pan with bacon that might be sizzling with grease splashes. He’s a dog…he wants to be near the bacon. We can’t expect him to understand drive-thru etiquette when we have him in the car and are grabbing coffee…he’s a dog.

Sometimes he jumps up, barks, gets annoying, eats your snacks, whimpers for no reason, nips, scratches, pulls on the leash…etc.




7.) Dogs are HILARIOUS!

I cannot get over how funny I think dogs are.

They’re so wholesome and I cannot control my giggling when they trip, run funny, get tangled up in their leash, fall asleep in their food bowl,





8.) Getting a dog changes EVERYTHING.

Literally, when people ask Preston & I what married life is like, I usually answer, “the same as unmarried life, except we have a dog now.”…because that’s the biggest change.

Having a dog is another expense to add to the budget, from grooming to vet visits, to food, supplies, to dog walkers, boarding, etc.

There’s no more spontaneous trips, staying out way too late, or deciding to stay somewhere last minute.

Taking Charlie out before bed and when we wake up has become ingrained as part of our daily ritual and feels weird the few mornings that he wasn’t with us.

There’s an extra aisle of the grocery store that we need to traverse now to look for treats, food, doggie bags, toys, toothbrushes.


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9.) Dogs love you unconditionally

I’ve mentioned this a few times up above – but it’s so true. So true.

Charlie wiggles his entire body when we come home. He sleeps snuggled up with Preston & I. He loves to ride in my lap in the car. He’s a cuddle bug, for sure.

Even if we’re mad, or we scold him, or we’re really busy for a day – he’s always excited to see us. The few nights that he has slept over at my parents’ house, he would lay at the foot of their bed, facing the door, whimpering for us to come home.

And the best part is, I love him pretty darn unconditionally too.





10.) Dogs keep you moving!

Having Charlie is a great motivation to stay active! Between walks, visits to the dog park, nightly zoomies, and plenty of toys to throw!

Whenever it’s rainy, snowy, too hot, too humid – it’s easy to want to skip those walks, but now I’m guaranteed an extra mile even when the weather is less than perfect.

I love getting to take him out on walks with my cute leash & collar combo from West Paw! Shop it here! And his current toy obsession is his West Paw Montana Moose plush that he literally snuggles with at night! He loves a good squeaky and it’s been tough and durable against him dragging it around!




But the moral of the story is:

Charlie is the best, and having a dog has definitely improved our life!


Check out West Paw!





This post is sponsored by West Paw!\However, all thoughts & opinions are my own!


If you are at all interested in doing a collab or working with me – please feel free to check out my new Contact Me! page! I also do social media consulting and photography, so please reach out! Let’s work together!

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Thank you for all that you do. You are truly extraordinary.

Love all you wonderful ladies (and gents!) out there!

How Very,



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