The day after Christmas (2023), my wife and I rescued the newest member of our family. It was actually quite a sad story. Someone had dumped five puppies onto the side of the road who were picked up by some passersby on vacation. They reached out to the small Kentucky community we were living in via Facebook, asking for people to take some of the pups off their hands. My wife sent me a screenshot of the post, and 30 minutes later I picked up little Luna from a Walmart parking lot.

My wife, Amber, grew up around dogs. I did not. The only pet in our home prior to Luna was my 13-year-old cat named Ash, whom I also adore. So the next couple of weeks were certainly a daunting experience that taught me some important do's and don'ts of dog parenting. Some of them should have been more obvious to me than they were initially, but hey, we all live and learn. Here is what I've learned:

Jake Foster
Jake Foster

1 - Don't Feed Your Dog Taco Bell

Amber and I love Luna, or "Lou,"  as we have begun calling her. The day after we brought her home, we took her to the veterinarian for her initial shots and to get an idea of her overall condition. The veterinarian said she was in good health, and we then began feeding her Purina Puppy Chow. Over the next few weeks, we expanded that diet to include pup cups at Dairy Queen and even some plain burgers here and there.

One day, I decided to grab a quick bite at Taco Bell and took Lou with me. She knew as soon as we pulled up to the drive-thru what I was doing, and she wanted something from the window too. I ordered Lou what I thought was plain chicken, but apparently it was laced with some sort of spice. Let's just say I had a couple of messes to clean up over the next few days. Our house at the time also had WHITE carpet, so you can imagine how that went.

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2 - Don't Feed Your Dog From Your Plate

I'll be honest—I don't even own a kitchen table. I haven't bought one simply because it would never be used. My wife and I often eat our meals in front of the TV, which just so happens to be the same place that Lou likes to hang out around dinner time. I once gave her some dog-friendly human food off my plate, and she began whimpering and begging for more. Luckily, I caught this mistake early and haven't done it again since.

3 - Don't Treat Your Dog Like a Cat

Having mostly been around cats during my life, I was surprised at how much attention a puppy required. Cats are simple and require only a small amount of affection on their terms. Dogs are much different, and our new puppy showed me that very early on in our interactions.

Lou has a lot of energy and loves to play fetch, tug of war with her little rope, and run in circles around the house. When she wasn't getting attention, she would often chew on things to keep herself occupied. I learned within a matter of days that if I wanted to keep my couch intact, the puppy and I were going to have to spend some quality time together, which I now look forward to every day.

4 - Don't Use Your Dog Crate as Punishment

The first few weeks we had Lou, we kept her in a crate during the night, but that later became nearly impossible. My wife and I's work schedules were very different previously, so I would be home alone in the afternoons with the pup. When she made a mess or chewed on something she wasn't supposed to, I would give her a stern "no" and then a short timeout in the crate. It later became more and more difficult to get Lou to stay in the crate while we were asleep or out at dinner. She does better with the crate now since we stopped using it for timeouts, but it took a lot of repair work.

Jake Foster
Jake Foster

 5 - Don't Rush Boundry Training

As I live out in the country, I want Lou to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do. One of the things I knew we needed to do was train her to stay in the yard. We started by walking her on a leash around the yard, and she was doing so well that, after a week, I decided to let her off the leash. Big mistake. We lived next to a cattle field at the time, and Lou thought that was just the perfect place to go for a stroll. This left me with yet another mess to clean up.

Having a dog around hasn't been easy, but it's been a very rewarding experience. I've never seen so much personality in a dog. She's great with the cat and loves meeting new people. While we've still got some more work to do, I think she's worth every soiled paper towel and vet bill.

SEE: 15 Animals You Cannot Own in Evansville

I got the idea for this after seeing an article by Michelle Heart with our Townsquare Media sister-station, 107.9 Lite-FM in Boise, Idaho. She had discovered several animals residents in that city can't own based on city codes she found online which got me thinking about whether Evansville had any regulations that were similar. Obviously, they did or this article wouldn't exist. Chapter 14, Article 3, section 42 and 43 spell out a lengthy list of exotic animals you can get in trouble owning if local officials find out. You can see the entire list on the city's website. These are the 15 I found to be the most interesting.

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