Getting a Dog

I love dogs — animals of all shapes and sizes, for that matter.  I always pictured myself having several dogs and cats once I settled down, owned a home, had kids, and slowed down the travel schedule a bit.

I was devastated, however, when I met my husband and learned that he couldn’t stand dogs.  Not only did he dislike them, but he put his foot down and said that he would never get a dog.  I was hurt and shocked.  I couldn’t believe that this man with whom I was compatible in every important way could have such an obvious character flaw… or, at least that’s how I saw it at the time.  I later learned that, although he adores most other animals, his aversion to dogs was based on growing up in rural Massachusetts where he was chased by packs of local dogs while riding his bike home from school.  This, of course, was more the result of irresponsible dog owners who did not bother with fences, training or supervision of their pet pooches.  Though I was sensitive to his plight, I had my own childhood memories of growing up with a loving and loyal dog, and I wanted our children to be able to have that sort of companionship.

For those of you who know me either personally or through this blog, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m not one to easily admit defeat.  Let’s just say that after several years of cajoling, persuading, and giving birth to our two children, my now-almost-perfect husband finally came around to my way of thinking.  Well, at least he’s willing to let the girls and I get a dog without too much griping.  He even went so far as to spend the entire day yesterday installing the underground electric dog fence around our yard without my even having to ask!

Another step of the process was to have my five-year-old allergy tested.  Although my three-year-old shows no allergic symptoms, my oldest daughter struggles with both allergies and asthma.  She’s highly allergic to cats, and it goes without saying that I didn’t want to introduce a new pet into our home that would result in any kind of health problems for her.  She was so eager about the prospect of getting a new pet that she patiently and without complaint went through the allergy testing process.  She received 35 scratch tests on her back, and asked for extra ones for guinea pigs, turtles, and frogs.  (The doctor said that she probably didn’t need to test for the amphibians.)  We were both elated to learn that she is not allergic to dogs.

We’ll be travelling for much of the next month, but we’ll return in time for the girls to start first grade and preschool.  That will likely be the time we start seriously looking to adopt the newest furry member of our family.

Any recommendations about the dog adoption process or particular breeds or mixes that you’d recommend?  I’ve had an Irish Setter, a Chow Chow, and a Boxer.  We’ll probably lean towards something that sheds a little less or is known for being particularly good with children and reluctant husbands.

14 comments

  1. shelties and golden retrievers are both EXCELLENT family dogs. and if you can get qualities of both dogs in a mix-breed, even better. both are big shedders though.

    any that you’re leaning toward? i’m a big fan of rescued mutts. with the girls you may want to lean toward dogs that are smaller and known for more affectionate and docile personalities. unless they are totally willing and able to do the run around the neighborhood/yard, throw ball/stick repeatedly thing.

    if you’re thinking of sticking with what you’ve had before, i’ve heard chow-chows can snap at kids pretty easy, even when they’re loyal to them. and i’ve witnessed boxers trying to alpha little kids in playful ways, but if they succeed, then they might not be as playful about it after. i’ve never heard a bad thing about an irish setter, but the one that lived down the street from me as a kid, while beautiful, was, stinky, to put it mildly. beautiful lon gcoats, especially in the nether regions..

    even if your allergy girl doesn’t flare on the tests, i would rec a short hair/low shed dog. just less dust and dander in the house in general. standard poodles, portuguese water dogs are good low allergy family dogs if you want a medium to larger breed. any other q’s? lol!

    i’m totally an animal person. wish i could have more here, but mil is allergic with 1 cat and 1 little dog in the home.

  2. One consideration you need to take into account is what type of dog will stay contained in an electric fence. Many dogs (as I’m sure you already know) were bred with intense prey drives to chase, retrieve, hunt, etc. In the case of electric fences, a dog with a strong desire to go after something on the other side of the fence will charge through the fence ignoring the pain, but then will be outside the yard afraid –or unwilling– to come back in, which isn’t safe. Also, you have to also consider that a dog inside an electric fence is not protected from other animals that might come into your yard. I own two Westies, and I will tell you that terriers can not be contained in an electric fence. Their prey drive is too strong, and they dig. A poodle is hypoallergenic, and were bred as water retrievers, so they might be a good option as they don’t hunt moving objects.

  3. Wanted to add–I grew up with poodles. Very smart, VERY tolerant dogs. Lady, the toy poodle, let me dress her in doll clothes and push her around in a baby carriage. Bridget, the miniature poodle, would carry messages to the various family members and taught me to walk. I’d dig my hands into her fur and use her as a “walker”. Nothing more than a whimper on her end.

  4. so that’s 2 recs for poodles. i like the standards myself, big lovemuffins. just don’t get the pouf haircut. they are much more dignified in an all over even look.

  5. oops, and i agree with brittany, terriers love to run, esp oput of confinement of any kind. at least that’s my terrier mix’s m.o. she got out today. no one even knows how she managed it.

  6. Lady loved her pouf look (not the brightest dog that ever lived) and especially liked to have her toenails polished and bows in her hair. She’d come back from the groomer’s and dance for us to show off. This is unrelated, but if you’dblow on her nose, she’d run laps through the living room, dining room, and kitchen. This always terribly amused me.

    Lady also saved my grandparents’ lives. They took her camping with them in their RV one time and their electric blanket caught on fire while they were sleeping. She clawed at them and barked until they were awake. Again, a good dog.:-)

  7. Thanks for the great advice!

    Agreed, I wouldn’t choose another Chow Chow again, particularly around small children. They’re cute as teddy bears, but terribly territorial.

    I hadn’t thought about the fact that some breeds will blow through an electric fence barrier due to strong prey instincts. Definitely something to take into consideration.

    We’d definitely prefer a low-shed breed, but we’d like to adopt from an animal rescue shelter, so we aren’t necessarily talking purebreds. I’d probably lean towards a medium-sized dog, but would be open to any individual dog who happened to be good with kids and preferably not a shedder. It sounds like a poodle or schnauzer mix would probably suit us just fine, if we can find one.

  8. Invisible Dog Fences have evolved over the past 25 years. The expensive and somewhat ugly chain link dog fences have fallen by the wayside in favor of the new electronic dog fences, which use invisible radio waves. Dogs have a habit of jumping over or digging under chain link dog fences or other solid barrier dog fences. An Invisible Fence is a good idea if you want to keep your dog safe.
    A wireless dog fence is great because you never have to worry about fixing broken wires. A Wireless Pet Fence is a good option for pet containment.

  9. I had a dog and 3 cats that we had to give to family and friends when I was diagnosed with allergies when I was a kid. I am still extremely allergic to cats but now I only notice problems with dogs that shed a lot.

    My wife is a huge dog lover and we finally got a puppy about a month ago. We got a female miniature schnauzer and I have not had any allergy problems and she does not shed at all. We live in an apartment and had to get a smaller dog. She is perfect and adorable! She LOVES all dogs and all people and is very smart, gentle, and very affectionate. She also does not bark like some schnauzers do. The only problem we have so far is she gets very excited when she sees people and dogs on her walks. She thinks everyone is there to play with her and just gets too excited. With training and age I’m told she will get better though. With a few tugs on her leash she moves on reluctantly though.

    Our next dog is going to be a rescue for sure. We both love mutts! Good luck!

  10. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Betty

    http://smallpet.info

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