Each of my previous dogs came from the shelter. And each was older (in Shadow’s case, much older) than Honey was when we brought her home.
Mixed breeds, it was a guessing game to figure out their parentage much less their grandparentage. We brought them home, loved them to death, and coped with whatever issues and characteristics cropped up.
Agatha and Christie were our starter pups. They were 4 months when we adopted them so had missed their most critical socialization period. Of course, we made lots of mistakes–didn’t invest in crates, didn’t get them used to other dogs, never got a handle on their separation anxiety. When Christie died at 14 years old, Agatha finally blossomed into a perfect dog. For the final two years of her life, Agatha was secure and happy. Our choice to adopt the two littermates was probably our biggest mistake.
After Agatha died, we found 9 year old Shadow at the SPCA.
In the house, Shadow was a perfect dog. She never barked, was calm and trustworthy when people visited, and was just a joy to have around. Outside was a different matter.
I suspect her previous family exercised her in a back yard and didn’t take her for leash walks. It soon became apparent that Shadow had probably not spent too many hours riding calmly in the car either.
Shadow pulled so hard on leash that I’d get back from a walk with my hands bleeding. And her calm demeanor didn’t last when she met another dog. Although we eventually taught her not to pull on leash, her dog reactivity meant that passing within 20 feet of another dog without Shadow going ballistic was a major victory.
When we lost Shadow to cancer last December, we started thinking about our next dog.
I wanted to be sure we were never without a dog again so it was crucial to find one that would like having a doggie playmate. We loved that Shadow was not a watchdog and wanted to find another dog that would be friendly to anyone who came to the door. Living in the city, it would be crucial for our dog to tolerate noise, crowds, and strange dogs. And we like to take our dogs on outings with us–kayaking, swimming, camping, hiking–and needed a dog that would enjoy those activities.
The trick was finding the right dog while still being open to all the surprises a new dog could bring.
To Be Continued…