I used to be one of THOSE people.
Y’know, the ones who say “Why would anyone ever adopt a pure breed dog? There are plenty of wonderful dogs at shelters and rescues just waiting for homes.” I knew, because I had adopted 3 of them myself.
But when my last dog, Shadow, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her jaw back in April 2008 and given only a few months to live, I began to consider a new idea. Since we were lucky to keep Shadow with us for 2 years instead of 2 months (!), I had a lot of time to ponder.
Living with Agatha and Christie and now Shadow taught me that I loved being with dogs, that I didn’t ever want to be without dogs, and that I wanted the chance to work with dogs in a more serious way. During those 18 years, however, I had been prevented from taking advantage of everything the dog world was beginning to offer.
You see, Agatha and Shadow were both quite dog-reactive. I know some of you know what this means.
Every walk required careful attention and management so we didn’t get surprised by or come to close to another dog on a walk. Greeting neighbors walking their own dogs was impossible. Just sitting on the porch when another dog walked by sparked aggressive barking. And although Shadow improved quite a bit over the years, no walk was every casual or easy. (Sadly, I didn’t know enough when Agatha was with me to be able to help her in a meaningful way–it’s one of my greatest regrets.)
Oh yeah, and since we live in the city, we’re talking about every. time. we. leave. the. house.
I started to think about what I could do to “stack the deck” so my next dog would be more likely to accept other dogs and people easily.
First, I could wait for a puppy to come to the SPCA and do my best to start her out the right way. But I adopted Agatha and Christie at 3-4 months old so that’s no guarantee.
Second, I could try to identify a dog at the shelter with really good dog skills. But I saw no signs from Shadow that she had animosity toward other dogs when we picked her out. What I realized later was that she loved walking and sniffing so much that a dog could jump on her back and she wouldn’t notice if you were getting ready to walk her out the door. So we saw no signs of (negative or positive) interest in other dogs at the SPCA.
Third, I could research a breed that is likely to be friendly to other dogs and people and adopt a dog from a responsible breeder. And that’s what I decided to do. And was lucky to find Honey who is both friendly to people and other dogs.
So now I’ve gone against my life held commitment to adoption and Honey and I need to justify it by finding just the right job for us to pursue.
Honey turns 1 year old on January 26–a little maturity under her belt yet still willing to learn.
What should our job be? Accepting foster dogs? Raising service dogs? Pursuing nose work or agility or obedience? Becoming a therapy dog team?