FINDING YOUR CANINE BFF by ELLIN CURLEY

Our 16-year-old dog died a month ago. We still have our seven-year old dog, Lexi, but we have decided we’d like to be a two dog household again. So we’re now on the ‘market’ for another dog.

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My husband hates the idea of ‘shopping’ for a dog. Luckily for him, he’s never had to do it. He has had many, many dogs in his life. But by some bizarre twist of fate, all his dogs basically appeared on his doorstep, fortuitously. A puppy was hanging out alone on the beach just outside his apartment building as a hurricane hit the area.

To protect the dog from the storm, he put it in his car as he evacuated. He named the dog Hurricane and they were together for 15 years. A professor friend found out that a puppy was being stowed away in a college student’s dorm room. She knew Tom was a dog lover so she brought the puppy to him and asked him to find it a good home. The home turned out to be his for the next 16 years. These are not the only examples.

Rescued!

Rescued!

This sort of thing has never happened to me. I doubt that it ever will. I know I have to actively look for a dog if I want another one. I have become a pro at searching the websites of the local rescue groups. I met my husband on an online dating site, so why not find my new canine BFF that way too?

I have a different problem. All you see online is a photo or two and a very short, often generic ‘character sketch’ of each dog. You don’t get to exchange emails with the dog for a week before deciding to go on to the next step in the relationship. So how do you decide which dog to meet based on so little information? I go by gut feelings. But I don’t totally trust my gut.

Then you meet the dog. You only get to spend maybe 10 minutes with him or her at the rescue offices. Based on that, you’re supposed to make a decision. That’s it. To me, that’s like having coffee with my online dating acquaintance and having to decide on the spot if I want to spend the rest of my life with him, or, in the case of the dog, the next 12-15 years.

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It’s not fair to the dogs either. Some dogs are shy with new people and need time to warm up. Others, like my Lexi, get overly excited with new people and need time to calm down. So how do you know if you’re seeing the new dog’s true personality?

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Our situation is further complicated because the new dog has to get along with Lexi as well as with us. That’s a whole other dynamic that’s crucial for the well-being and peace of mind of everyone in the family. The rescue groups have the dogs meet before any final decision can be made. But, again, how do you make a major life decision based on 10-15 minutes? Add to that the fact that the dogs are over stimulated, in a strange environment and dealing with strange people. I’m not sure how Lexi will do in that situation. How can you tell how everyone will get along in our home under normal circumstances?

Danger Dogs

My husband and I are both losing sleep over this. We’re agonizing over choosing the right dog. We’re feeling guilty about the dogs we considered and ‘rejected’. We’re worrying about how we are changing the wonderful inter-personal and inter-species dynamic in our home forever. We’ve been spoiled by living with two dogs who got along well with each other and related differently, but well with us too. We don’t want to live in a household defined by canine tension and hostility.


THIS JUST IN!

Meet Remmy!

Meet Remy!

It is now two weeks after I wrote this blog and we have found our new canine BFF. Lexi loves her and we are ecstatic. I will write a separate blog about how we found our new puppy and how she adjusted to her new life with us. For now, just know that this blog has a happy ending!

18 thoughts on “FINDING YOUR CANINE BFF by ELLIN CURLEY

    • Tom likes to think that our dogs pick us in some way. This dog sat right up against Tom the minute she saw him and that was it for him! I hope it is some form of Karma. We are seeing several traits from our recently deceased dog in our new puppy. So maybe he helped guide our choice in some way.

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      • I have seen animals apparently pass traits on. It’s weird and if I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t believe it. I’ve seen it more with cats than dogs, but when Mao died, Manx started to do all the same odd things that Mao had done before, like check all the beds for invisible monsters every night and patrol the property perimeter. And I am absolutely sure that dogs and cats communicate silently with each other (though I’m not sure this crosses species). We’ve all seen it. You can’t miss it in a multi pet household. We just can’t PROVE it.

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    • I will be writing about my dog life more than usual because even an 8 month old puppy takes up a lot of time and energy. And besides, we are besotted!

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  1. I was just going to respond and say, give it time, the right dog will happen. We get cats the same way. Wait long enough, and one shows up on the doorstep, or a friend calls and says, “do you have room for another cat…” and we are off and rolling.
    Bravo, and Remy looks like a true keeper. What a lovely face.

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    • Tom has always found dogs by chance, like you mention. He wanted to wait till one just showed up in our life. But I didn’t want to wait. Nothing like that has happened to us in the past 11 years, since Lucky was dumped on our doorstep. It seems to happen to some people, but not to me.

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  2. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your 16 year old and know how that is but oh my what a wonderful post. We share in common our love of dogs and you know how involved I am in dog rescue. I just love Remy and can’t wait to see more. What a beautiful way to start the holidays. Happy Holidays to your and yours. Love, Paulette ❤

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    • I was so impressed with the dog rescue groups I worked with to find our new dog! I may volunteer with one after we finish training our current obsession. I’m just afraid I’ll get too attached to the dogs I work with and end up bringing more home with me.

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    • Remy is a sweetheart. But like most rescues, she has her issues. She is very fearful of noises and sudden movements. She is terrified of the doggie door and won’t go near the crate. So we have our work cut out for us!

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      • I was warned when we got Gibbs NOT to crate him because rescue dogs tend to be terrified of being confined. We never did. Fortunately, Gibbs pretty much housebroke himself. But because he housebroke himself, he does it for his own reasons, not ours … so he can decide to NOT be housebroken. He is really really smart, the smartest dog we’ve had in a very long time, maybe ever. However, he’s got missing pieces and it’s easy to underestimate him. For example, he’s limited in the number of words he recognizes (I think he finally knows his own name) because for so long, he had almost no contact with people. The little had was scary. It’s 9 months since we got him and he’s definitely become a family dog. With bits of remaining weirdness. It takes time and patience. The good news is that they tend to make progress in leaps. not baby steps. You think nothing is happening, then one day, they decide OKAY, that’s not so scary and suddenly, there’s one less problem.

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