You would think that my getting a second dog would be a simple thing. After all, I work at the shelter and see hundreds of dogs who need homes come through our door. How hard can it be to select one and adopt it? I see people all the time come in, fall in love with a dog and leave that same day with a new family member. Why is it such a big deal for me?
I lost one of my dogs over a year ago and haven’t found the right companion for my remaining dog yet. One of the holdups is that Brandy can be selective about his canine friends. Even though he’s a Golden Retriever, he’s not super dog friendly. He especially doesn’t like big males and that rules out a lot of the dogs that come through here. I think he’d do best with a female, no bigger than him. She’d have to be a bit submissive but able to stand her ground. He really wants a leader dog but she can’t try to dominate him. Poppy, the Sheltie we lost, fit this perfectly. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but we’ve had some negative introductions so I’m being cautious.
There’s not just him to consider too. I also have four cats and a small house rabbit that the newcomer will have to get along with. So it can’t be anyone with a strong prey drive! It has to be safe (and hopefully happy) for everyone! I would never want to put my other pets at risk, so I test candidates as well as possible with our shelter mascot cat. A few failed because of that.
Then there’s my husband, Scott. One of the dogs we had was afraid of him. It literally took a couple years before he could put a leash on Monty to take him for a walk. I know it hurt Scott’s feelings and it wasn’t because he didn’t try his best to win Monty over! We’ve had dogs with behavior issues and severe health problems and he asked if we could possibly adopt just a “normal” dog for once. I know it’s hard to resist some of the hard-luck cases that come in and I would love to rescue many of them – in fact, without his voice of reason I’d be at risk of being one of those crazy cat/dog ladies with too many pets! But most dogs have an issue (or two) – although we do occasionally get in just genuinely great dogs. Most of the time it's the fault of the owner who didn’t socialize/train when the dog was young but it’s hard to correct that after the fact. You can’t go back and fix it, which is a true shame and why we harp on the importance of early socializing and training.
I can’t put all the blame on Brandy and Scott though. I also have my preferences too. There are a few breeds I am partial to and would love to have. One is an Australian Shepherd but we almost never get that breed here. I’ve been searching Petfinders.com but have yet to find the right one and I’m realizing that holding out for just a particular breed is ridiculous. But I know I commit to an animal for life and have to find one that really clicks with me. I bring my dogs to work and they need to be both people and animal friendly (Brandy’s dog selectiveness is a real challenge – but he is perfect with children of all ages.)
There also is the question of timing. I’m realizing there’s never a perfect time to get a new animal. There are vacations, events, work schedules and more that have to be juggled. But that’s life and those things will always be an issue. I guess that I will have to just bite the bullet and commit to making it work – which is the advice I would give others! I’ll keep you posted as I continue my search. Can’t wait to share my new dog with you – when I find her!
BUNFEST, a celebration of everything rabbit! Sunday, April 29, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Burton Recreation Center. Free admission gets you some great speakers on rabbit health and care, lots of adorable rabbits to meet, bunny supplies to purchase and more! Check out information at sonomacountybunfest.com.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.