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!

20 thoughts on “ONE DOG OR TWO? by ELLIN CURLEY

      • Ellin, this is “tomorrow”. Please let us know how the brief encounter went. Fingers crossed here. Bonnie and Gibbs are also interested.

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        • We have a new dog in the house on a 48 hour trial. They didn’t get off to a great start but seem to be adjusting to one another after a few hours. It’s going to be a rough two days for all of us! Thanks for your interest!

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    • We are hoping that Lexi will be happier and healthier running around with a young dog playmate. She’s been with an old dog for a long time now.

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  1. Hope you get another dog. My oldest dog was relentlessly pursued and nipped at by my younger dog, who wanted to play. He literally wore the older dog out, who was always looking for escape. Then an even younger dog came into our life and made a wonderful companion for the middle dog. They’ll sort their differences out. Go for it.

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    • Thanks for your encouragement! We are intorducing Lexi to another dog tomorrow. If they don’t get along, we’ll keep looking. If nothing else, Lexi needs some exercise. She’s become a couch potato like us! She even needs to lose some weight!

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      • Frida lost weight when I adopted Diego. He drove her like a sheep dog drives sheep, but it ended up being good for her. All sorts of problems disappeared that appeared again when I got Morrie, who took her place by driving Diego the way he once drove Frida!

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  2. I can understand your concerns. My dog, Cindy, enjoys playing with other dogs when we go out but she’s always been an only dog and because she is very people oriented I do wonder if she would be jealous of another dog. She’s ten so like you I would not like to rock the boat. It is nice for a dog to have a companion when they have to be left at home though. I hope you find the right dog.

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    • SInce Lucky died, we have noticed that Lexi is particularly hysterical when we come home after being out for a while. I think that being alone may freak her out. We hope that giving her a ‘pack’ again will calm her down.

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    • Apparently there are some dogs that need to be only dogs for a variety of reasons. But Lexi has never been an only dog so, while I’m sure she could adjust, I think she’d be happier with another canine in the house. We’ll see. She has been fairly subdued since Lucky’s death so we should be able to tell if she perks up a bit.

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    • I wish we knew what they were thinking. But from what scientists have figured out, they don’t think like us. We attribute anthropomorphic thoughts to them that they simply are not capable of having. So we still might not understand them even if we knew what they were thinking. Kind of like men and women!

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    • Lexi has to make the choice because if she doesn’t get along peacably with a new dog, noone is happy. A trainer brings the new dog to our house and watches Lexi’s reaction. He can tell the difference in dog growls between a minor correction and a declaration of war. If he feels the dogs will fight or not work things out, he won’t let the new dog stay. If it works out, we get to keep her! It’s tomorrow!

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