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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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!
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!