Having been married now for just over two years, I’ve finally worn Otto down with my winning ways, my wit, my charm, my irresistible smile, and—most importantly—my whining.
We’re getting a dog.
There are those who’ve known me a long time, and who know that in My Former Life™ I had a Very Bad Dog and, in fact, sent him away in a move that was deemed by my ex-husband to be the final nail in my I’m Such A Monster coffin. I was accused of hating animals and being uncaring. The reality is that I love animals, but our former dog was a neurotic mess, and as I was already somewhat overwhelmed with the two small (at the time) neurotic messes to whom I’d given birth, I couldn’t handle the dog, as well.
He went to a farm and lived out the rest of his life a lot happier, I think. Though his life was sadly cut short, and I still sometimes feel guilty about it.
I tell you this to demonstrate why I am now paralyzed with fear.
I want another dog. I work from home and most days, I’m here all day by myself. Dogs are excellent company and good foot-warmers. Chickadee has recently decided she might like to become a vet when she grows up. Monkey loves animals and is the kind of kid who simply can’t have too much unconditional adoration at his disposal. On the rare occasions when Otto goes out of town, I would feel more comfortable having a dog in the house in case someone decides it might be a good idea to break in and steal… ummm… our 10-year-old television.
What I learned from having Huckleberry, though, is that breed is everything. We unwittingly adopted a “working breed” and he was a poor fit for our family from the get-go. We used to joke that if only we could bring home a herd of sheep for him, he’d probably be fine. Now I know, at least, that I don’t want a high-energy working breed. Or a breed known for barking (hello, beagles).
Other requirements include:
* Monkey and I are actually allergic to fur, so we’re looking only at hair breeds (and mixes).
* I do not want a dog that barks and barks and barks.
* I want a dog smart enough to obey but not so smart that it chooses not to.
* I want neither a tiny yappy dog nor a giant dog who eats more than the kids.
* A dog who’d be equally happy laying around while I work and running around with the kids (or going on brisk walks with me) would be perfect.
* I have no interest whatsoever in rearing a puppy.
Right now I’m spending a lot of time on Petfinder, searching local rescues and shelters, looking for a 2-3 year old Schnauzer or Poodle mix. I’m still not sure what to look for when we start going out to meet dogs, though. Huckleberry seemed perfectly calm and sweet when we met him. How can you tell what a dog is REALLY like in a shelter setting or on a visit at an adoption day event?
I keep telling Otto: In some ways, I feel very Zen about it all. I believe I’ll KNOW our dog when I meet him/her. But I also feel pretty inexperienced with the whole thing. And I’m also fearful that the kids will fall in love with the first dog we see, and then I’ll be the one explaining (over and over) that we have to find the RIGHT dog, even though I’m guessing just as much as they are.
Also, if I get a rotten dog, I will never hear the end of it from Otto. He’s cute when he’s self-righteous, but still. I’d really like for this to be a successful family experience for all of us.
So. Anyone with more animal experience want to throw some tips my way?