Friday, July 5, 2013

The "Third Dog" Debate

[Note:  This was supposed to be posted about a week ago, but I just discovered that apparently I forgot to click Publish.  Oops!]

After much thought and discussion, I’m more against the idea of adopting a third dog right now.   Well, let me rephrase that:  I’m more against the idea of adopting our third dog from an animal shelter without knowing anything about the dog first, like we did with Luke.  Don’t get me wrong, we hit the doggy JACKPOT when we adopted Luke, but we were extremely lucky.  Luke could have easily turned out to be an aggressive dog or have any number of other behavioral issues, which is the chance you take when you decide to adopt from an animal shelter.  

To further clarify, pound puppies are wonderful, loving, loyal dogs that need homes, and I strongly urge everyone to adopt from their local shelters if possible, but shelter dogs may not always the best choice for certain situations.  If mine and Justin’s current situation was different, I would not hesitate to adopt another dog from our local shelter. However, with two very energetic pups already in the house, I have developed a specific list of criteria that I would require from a third dog, if we ever do adopt one, which are as follows:

1.       Our third dog should be at least 3 to 5 years-old.  After losing Lexie, Jocie, and Sam in the span of less than a year, I swore I’d never have multiple dogs that were so close in age ever again.  Unfortunately, Luke did not turn out to be the 3 year-old dog that the shelter employee originally told us he was, and so now I have two puppies who are almost exactly the same age. 
2.       The third dog should have a lower-energy, more laid back type of personality.   I’m not saying that the dog should never play or get excited, but since I’ve already got two puppies who are constantly wrestling and chasing each other around the house, it would be nice if the third dog preferred to just watch their antics rather than join in.
3.       The dog has to be extremely socialized and not aggressive towards people or other animals under any circumstance.  I know this seems like a pretty standard, “no duh” type of criteria, but aggression is a personality trait that is sometimes difficult to see when you first adopt a dog from the shelter.  You might fall in love with a dog at the pound because he’s extremely friendly towards you, but then, after you’ve brought him home, you find out that your new dog tends to show aggression towards unfamiliar men or becomes aggressive at mealtimes.  
4.       Although this is not a deal-breaker, I would love it if the third dog was a cuddler so that Margot could have a new cuddle buddy to sleep with.

The way I see it, the only way Justin and I can be sure that a dog meets all of these criteria is to adopt one that has either been in a foster home for a while, or one who is looking for a new home because the current owner can no longer keep him/her.   That way, the previous owner or foster parent can tell us from firsthand experience what the dog’s personality is like.  A shelter dog’s true personality is usually only discovered after the dog has lived with you for a while, and I’m just not in a position right now to be able to work with a dog with any behavioral issues.   Plus, I’m afraid of bringing home a dog who might act aggressively towards Margot and/or Luke at some point.

With all of that said, I’m still not 100% certain that I even want a third dog right now.  Margot and Luke are so awesome together, and part of me is afraid that a third dog will change their relationship somehow.   What if Margot prefers the new dog over Luke or vice versa?  Or, what if Margot and Luke completely ignore the new dog or, even worse, are mean to him/her?  Any of those scenarios would break my heart. 

Furthermore, the biggest reason why we were considering adopting a third dog was because we felt sorry for Margot.  She obviously misses Sam, but the grieving seems to be improving lately.  In fact, I’ve even noticed that Margot seems to be acting a little bit sweeter lately than she did before Sam died.  This past week, she has actually taken breaks from chasing Luke around or playing with one of her toys just to come over and rest her head on my lap.  There’s also a sort of tenderness in her eyes that I’ve been seeing a lot more of lately.   Of course, the downside is that, if Justin or I are busy and don’t have time to snuggle or pet Margot right when she wants us to, she gets extremely whiney.   After also dealing with this type of behavior from Lexie, though, I’m convinced that the whining demands for attention are just a “Dobe thing.”  I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, though.  It’s actually kind of cute.  (Spoken like a true Doberman enthusiast.) 

As for my little Prince, Lukas (I recently gave him the middle name Prince, by the way), he has shown some improvements in his behavior this past week, as well.  A few nights ago, when Margot was acting a little sad before bedtime, Justin and I decided to leave Luke out of his crate, just to see how he’d do.  We were hoping (and still are hoping) that he would eventually start cuddling Margot if we left him out with her at night, but Luke also has a history of destroying things (shoes, remote controls, T-shirts, etc.) while we’re asleep, which is why we started crating him a few months ago.  However, so far, Luke has done pretty well sleeping out of his crate at night.  In fact, I think that having Luke on the couch with her these past few nights is part of the reason why Margot has seemed a little less sad lately.  

So, for all the reasons I just mentioned above (and one other very big reason that I will discuss another day), I’m kind of leaning towards holding off on adopting a third dog at this time.   For me, it all boils down to this:  If we get a third dog right now, it will definitely have to be an older dog, and, unfortunately, I’ve come to view a dog’s lifespan as being like an hourglass that is just constantly draining, until one day it eventually runs out.  And yes, smartass, I do realize that this metaphor also applies to humans, but a dog’s hourglass is much, much shorter and, as a result, I am much more aware of it.  After Lexie and Jocie died, all I could do was wonder when Sam’s time was going to run out, as well.   I tried not to focus on such a negative thought, but I simply couldn’t help it, and every time I looked at Sam, I just wanted to cry.  So, I’m afraid that if we adopt an older dog, especially so soon after losing our other three older dogs, I will always be wondering in the back of my mind, “How much time does this dog have left?”

The other option for getting a third dog is to wait a few years until Luke and Margot are a little older and then get a new puppy, which is the better option in my opinion.  You see, with puppies, I’m not as aware of their little hourglasses because they’ve still got so many good years ahead of them, and I’m way too focused on raising them and training them to even worry about the length of their lifespan. 

Unfortunately, Justin doesn’t totally agree with me about all of this and would love to adopt a dog right now, which makes me feel kind of bad.  However, I do think that he sees where I’m coming from, and of course he also loves puppies, so I’m hoping that he can just be patient for the next few years while we wait to add a third dog to our family.

1 comment:

  1. I wish you could have Nala. She gets along with all people and dogs and even cats. My sister was supposed to take her when she moved to Missouri but the place didnt allow dogs so I had to give her to my "friend" Timmy who lied to me for months saying he still had her but he actually had to give her to his friend until he can get a place. He never updates me on her or anything. So I'm trying to hurry and get a place to get her back. Bleh. She is like the smartest dog I have ever had. But she is only like a year old. Ugh I miss her. She used to lay at my feet and she would cuddle with my sister's dog and was a big sweetheart. My sister moved to a different place that allowed dogs but the military has a ban on german shepherds and pitbulls which she is mixed with. She also has lab in her. Man I was prepared to pay for the gas to go get her and everything. It sucks.