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Choosing a second dog

All dog lovers want to adopt more dogs. Our significant others and family members have learned this the hard way.

I know that at some point there will be a second dog in our household. This very day, week or month is not the right time, but that could easily change.

My problem is not whether or not to adopt a second dog, my problem is deciding on “the right” dog.

I know the correct way to adopt a dog – take my time, set my emotions aside and find a dog that will compliment the energy in our house. That’s exactly what I did with my mutt Ace when I adopted him almost three years ago through a great rescue in Fargo called Adopt A Pet.

The second time around will be much harder for me because I’m more involved with dog rescue and it’s hard to set my emotions aside now that I spend time with so many dogs in need of homes. When I adopted Ace, I had no connections with any rescues in town and in many ways this made it easier to find “the perfect” dog.

‘The right’ dog

The dog I have always wanted to adopt does not fit that “ideal” profile for our household.

Ideally, a new dog should be more submissive and less energetic than the existing dog (and cats) so she can fit nicely into the order of the house. Most people make the mistake of adopting a hyper, young dog that ends up bringing chaos and stress to everyone.

I know from experience as a foster owner and Fargo pet sitter that the above advice should be taken very seriously. Higher energy, dominant dogs will create problems. Calmer, laid-back, submissive dogs will mold with the other animals almost seamlessly. It’s pretty amazing, yet it’s a very simple concept.

If anyone were to ask me for advice on adopting a second dog, I would highly advise them to choose a dog with less energy than their current dog. At the same time, I am going to have a hard time following my own advice.

Most dogs are more dominant than Ace. In case you forgot, my 9-pound cat will sit in an entryway blocking Ace just because he can. Ace will sit and cry until I come and “rescue” him.

The ranking in our house is very clear – humans, cats, dog.

The dog that I have always wanted to adopt is a dominant animal. Although she has no trouble following a consistent, knowledgeable human, there would naturally be a power struggle between her and my more dominant cat, Beamer. Not only that, but this particular dog has shown aggression with other animals.

Rescuing a dog

I’m writing this post because my conflict is one that every dog lover should think about.

At what point is it OK to adopt a more challenging dog?

That answer is different for everyone, and some people should never adopt certain dogs. It’s something I struggle with. I know how to properly choose a “perfect” dog, but I am also willing and capable of offering a great home to a dog with a few “issues.” We all know there is a lack of homes for these dogs.

I work with a lot of rescue dogs, and I can say that I am better than most as far as not getting too attached. I never want to keep my foster dogs. I don’t even want to foster a dog right now.

But … there has always been this one dog.

Am I “the one” for her? It’s easy to believe I am, but I know it’s mostly my emotional needs getting in the way again – a danger for every dog lover involved with rescue.

This dog doesn’t need me, as much as I want to believe she does. She needs someone – me or any other capable dog owner.  I imagine there must be hundreds of dog lovers out there who could be right for this dog. They just haven’t met her, at least not at the right time.

So … for now we are a one-dog home (with a lot of visiting and temporary dogs). Sooner or later though, there will be a second. The “right dog” for us is yet to be determined.

Why did you choose the dog/s you have?

Breed profile: Labradoodle
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