ONE DOG OR TWO? by ELLIN CURLEY

Since we’ve been married, my husband and I have had four dogs, three dogs and two dogs. A few weeks ago we lost our 16-year-old dog, Lucky. Now, for the first time, we are down to one.

Our one dog is a 40 pound, 7-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. She is smart, sweet, and the most people-oriented and communicative dog I’ve known. She is also fearful, skittish. and has anxiety issues. She is on medication. We have also worked with dog trainers to reduce her anxiety. She is better than she was. but is still a dog with ‘issues’.

We were sure that we would always want at least two dogs. We were sure that we would definitely get another rescue dog as soon as we had mourned appropriately for Lucky. Now we are not so sure. We have a wonderful thing going with Lexi. We’re a close-knit family and we all mesh perfectly with one another. Part of us is just afraid to rock the boat.

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We have read a lot about dogs and talked to canine experts. We understand that pack animals do better with other dogs around. Our trainer also told us that the ‘right’ dog could be wonderful for Lexi. Our older dog stopped playing with Lexi years ago. The trainer thinks that it would be good for Lexi if she could actually run around with and interact with a new roommate. It could make her less nervous, happier and less dependent on me, her primary person (who she feels she has to protect).

On the other hand, it might not be that easy to find a dog that would be a positive for Lexi. She is quirky and difficult in many ways. She loves to play with other dogs, but playing with another dog is not the same dynamic as living with one. They have to eat together, and share toys as well as human time and affection. Lexi has been jealous of our other dog in the past so this could be a delicate situation. If the dogs don’t ‘mesh’ well, we humans will become constant mediators for our small pack. We’re not sure we want to take that risk. (NOTE: We don’t believe in sending a dog back to a shelter because it doesn’t meet all our needs perfectly).

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I have an image in my head of two dogs playing ideally in the backyard and sleeping cuddled up together on the family room floor. I see them loving each other as much as they love us. We’ve had this ideal in the past. But we have friends who have had tense and difficult situations at home because of badly matched dogs.

We’ll have to decide if the reward is worth the risk. We will of course have Lexi meet potential dog rescues and see how she relates to them. Hopefully we will be able to minimize the uncertainty by being cautious and intelligent.

Maybe Lexi will find a way to tell us what she wants. As long as we’re dreaming about the future, we might as well add that to our wishful scenarios!

THE VIEW – BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY

The first photography —  the first landscape photography — I loved was in black and white. It was the work of Ansel Adams and it was pictures of our national parks. The mountains, The glories of the American west are forever in my mind in monochrome, not color. No color photography has ever touched me as deeply as those first Ansel Adams pictures.

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Dam over the Mumford River

I am not he, not even close. But he was one of the two of three most important influences on my love of photography. And, to a degree, the kind of photography at which I work hardest.

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Attean View, Jackman, Maine
BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY: LANDSCAPE