Adopting a second dog

Adopting for the right reason

I have been stalking one particular dog online for about two years now.

I don’t think I’m alone here.

Most dog lovers have their eyes on a certain rescue dog that for whatever reason they really, really want to adopt. Usually the deterrent is another family member, but it could also be a lease agreement or perhaps the dynamics of the current animals in the house.

I’ve always wanted to adopt a German shepherd mix named Sasha. She has been featured on my blog many times – here, here, here and here are just a few 🙂 She is one cool dog still waiting to be adopted since the day I met her in July 2008.

But the fact that I want to adopt Sasha is not the point of this post. I’m writing this because I’ve finally let go of my obsession with adding this particular second dog to our home. It’s actually a bit of a relief for me to admit this.

The reason I can’t adopt Sasha is not because of Josh saying no or my landlord saying no or even my mutt Ace saying no. The reason I can’t adopt her is because I am emotionally attached to her. I want to adopt Sasha for the wrong reasons.

Emotional attachment to animals

Sasha the German shepherd mix up for adoption with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue FargoDog lovers have a few issues with emotional attachments, at least I do. The main reason I love dogs so much is because I have a hard time opening up and getting close to people. Likewise, people have a hard time getting close to me.

But dogs? They are all about invading my personal space. They want to be friends instantly, and most of them are very pushy about it!

The people in my life pretend they don’t need to be taken care of, and I do the same. But dogs? They are very, very needy. I really do need to take care of someone in order to feel special. Dogs give me this opportunity every single day.

And of course, dogs provide us with unconditional love. Sometimes I tell Ace, “Get over here and meet my emotional needs.” Then he places himself in front of me and waits for a big hug. What a good boy 🙂

This dog is meant to be mine!

We humans have the tendency to fall in love with an animal based on its picture. Maybe the dog reminds us of a previous or current dog. Maybe the dog has a certain look on its face.

Once we’re emotionally attached to a dog, it’s easy to forget about the other, slightly more important details such as the dog’s energy, age, personality, tolerance of other animals and level of training. We tend to set ourselves up for extra stress right along with our family members, pets and the new dog.

In his book “A Dog Year,” Jon Katz writes about how he goes to pick up a rescued border collie from the airport. Even though he’d agreed to adopt the dog, he specifically asked not to see its picture first. He didn’t want to make an adoption decision based on looks. That would be a bad reason, he said, to get a dog.

But people adopt dogs based on looks all the time.

Humans also have the ability to attach specific events to a particular animal and draw outlandish conclusions that this dog is meant to be theirs.

Sasha was officially the first dog I took on a running session after I started my dog running business, Run That Mutt. This is what lead to my emotional attachment. On top of that, she was a rescue dog desperately in need of exercise and attention. She was very needy.

Over the next year and a half, I took Sasha on many, many runnings sessions. I took her to obedience classes and adoption events. There was lots of time for car rides and walks. Lots of time for bonding. She even spent an afternoon hanging out with Ace, and they got along great despite Sasha’s supposed dog-aggression issues.

Sasha was adopted and returned at least four times, further reinforcing the idea in my head that she was meant to be my dog. If no one wanted her, if no one could train her, perhaps I could.

What are the wrong reasons to adopt another dog?

Sasha the German shepherd mix up for adoption with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue Fargo

Foster owners are faced with the temptation to adopt their foster dogs simply because it’s been more than a year and no one seems to want the dogs. I’d say that’s a bad reason to get an animal.

Dog lovers, and especially those of us highly involved in rescue, need to ask ourselves why we want a second (or third, or fourth …) dog. If it’s to temporarily fill some kind of emotional need, then we probably shouldn’t be adopting that dog.

It gives us emotional satisfaction to rescue an animal no one else wants. This is why I want to adopt Sasha, and it’s the same reason people want to adopt dogs with some kind of horrible, abusive past.

I worked at the information table at 4 Luv of Dog Rescue’s silent auction in October. People came up to me asking for more info on the puppies recently pulled from a Western North Dakota puppy mill. The rescue had a binder with pictures of each dog up for adoption, and people kept asking, “Is this one from the puppy mill? How about this one?”

They wanted a puppy mill dog or no dog at all!

What are the right reasons to adopt another dog?

Maybe you can tell me?

I have a hard time distinguishing my own feelings between wanting a dog for the right reasons and wanting a dog for the wrong reasons. I am not one of those people who falls in love with every dog she sees. Sasha is the only dog I’ve seriously considered adopting, and I work with rescue dogs constantly. I am very realistic and realize that no matter what, there will always be more dogs to rescue. There will always be dogs stuck in the pounds.

Perhaps the biggest red flag for me is that I am only interested in adopting Sasha when there are dozens of more suitable dogs for my current lifestyle. I am not much different than the people who come flocking to adopt the latest shelter dog with a media story attached to it (think, the “Vick dogs” or the “Katrina dogs” or more locally, Star the shepherd mix who had her throat slit).

It takes a lot of time, discipline, money and energy to adopt another dog. It also takes a lot of discipline to say no to the wrong dogs and wait for that “perfect” dog to come along.

For me, the right reason to adopt another dog is because all family members are on board to open up our love to another living creature. It’s another chance to grow, challenge ourselves and have fun. It’s a chance to bring ourselves and our other animals more companionship.

A few years down the road, maybe Josh and I will be ready to adopt a second dog similar to Sasha.

Who knows, maybe the right dog will come along sooner than I think.

Tell me about the rescue dog you’re currently “stocking.” Leave a link in the comments if you’d like.

If you are interested in adopting Sasha, fill out an application with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue. Maybe 2011 will be her year.

Edit: Sasha was adopted in 2011!

Sasha the German shepherd mix up for adoption with 4 Luv of Dog Rescue Fargo

58 thoughts on “Adopting a second dog”

  1. Good blog Lyndsey, it’s so true, I often times find myself surfing petfinder and gravitate to dogs I think are “so cute!”, or pull on my emotional hearstrings, it’s hard not to get caught up in that…

  2. I stalked our second dog Belle. I loved her picture and my boyfriend finally agreed to another dog. I think he was hoping for a puppy but I wanted her. He went and saw her and said yes. I think the only reason it worked was because he grew up with a sled dog team in AK and knew dogs. Year and a half later and he doesn’t know what he would do without his “Tinks.” 🙂

      1. Actually its the six of us. The Boyfriend, DOG (his dog), Belle, Peta and Image (my two horses) and me. Besides Belle’s anxiety around horses its been wonderful! She cuddled with me yesterday, not something she’s in a habit of doing even after a year and a half.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Haha! Oh! Well you have quite the family, and I’m glad it’s going well with the dogs and horses for the most part 🙂

  3. I have 3 rescues and though I adopted them for various reasons, I definitely have no regrets. Taffy, who is definitely my favourite, Was my first one. I had to euthanize my older dog in the spring and we ended up buying a house in September of that year. It had everything I needed for a dog. I actually wanted to get two and went searching on Petfinder for a pair. Taffy and her brother were listed, 5 months old, picked up off the Indian reservation near Detroit Lakes. When I called the male had been adopted. I said thanks and moved on. So I thought… after going back to her profile over and over, I made arrangements to meet her. She wasn’t an easy dog at first. She’d never been in a house or a car or walked on a leash, but our journey together has been great! I found out that bringing a dog out of it’s shell is my strength. My patience and calm confidence definitely did wonders for her and I think it was a great match for both of us. She even got her Delta Therapy dog certification! Angel, who is my problem child, was dumped at the Fargo Dog park. She was severely underweight and had had a litter of puppies. Was I a sucker of course I was, but I couldn’t let them just release her into the street. She’s half Cocker Spaniel and half Beagle. She’s confident, pushy and always testing me to see if she can get away with anything, but she’s actually become a very good dog. Again, I’m consistent and have firm rules that she has to follow. I established early that she was not the one in charge and that growling at me would not get her what she wants. I could see her being an aggressive, nippy dog if she was in the wrong home. And finally Ruby, who was a 4 luv of dog foster, joined my pack after 6 months in the home. She fit in very well with my other two dogs, I lived alone in my house, so I had no one else to compromise with and she was another one of those dogs that was shy and needed to be drawn out. I have no regrets, I love them all and I do not feel like I have 3 dogs traipsing through the house. I get more compliments on their good behaviour and I am proud that I have been able to help all three.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Awww, your three dogs are so lucky to have you! I’m glad that you have been able to give them a good life. They all sound like wonderful dogs!

      1. See, I agree completely with what you said, Lindsay. I work at a dog spa and see people all the time who I just KNOW got their dog without having the proper knowledge or wherewithal to realize that it was not right for them. (It doesn’t help that I live in a city where people prefer little, yippy dogs because it’s fashionable)
        But I found what Karen had to say equally valid. While her methods don’t necessarily agree with yours, it ended up working out for her and her lucky dogs. What is sad is when people who DON’T know how to handle dogs adopt ones who are cute, but not very well behaved. I am completely for all dogs being able to be rehabilitated, no matter how traumatized they’ve been, it just takes the right behavior around them. I am so angry and frustrated when I see so many bad or otherwise uninformed dog owners out there… 🙁

  4. I always find myself browing for dogs on petfinder, but in the end I always decide Angus is too easy. I like fostering because it gives me a taste of having a 2nd dog without the commitment. The funny thing is that my family gets more attached to the fosters than I do. They always warn me not to fall in love with them and then try to convince me to adopt them. It is a lot easier to convince someone else to take on the commitment….Great Post! PS. I ate a pudding cup the other day and thought of you.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Fostering dogs is a good way to have another dog around with out longterm commitment, I agree! All of my foster dogs end up being a ton of work, but since it’s temporary, it’s not so bad to put up with. I never get attached to my foster dogs, either. 🙂 I could go for a pudding cup about now. I have the worst sweet tooth. I haven’t had one of those MPFC pudding cups in years. 🙂

  5. Yeah, we have totally look at other dogs online and wanted to rescue them. Heck, before we got Gus we couldn’t get him out of our heads. We were totally in love from the first moment we saw him. It’s worked out great with him though. Honestly, he really needs to be an only dog. That’s been what is deterring me from getting a second dog.

    This is a really great post and really made me think.

  6. Though I totally understand and agree with you,(I’m like you in that I have a hard time opening up to people too) I can’t help but feel bad for Sasha. She deserves someone like you in her life. It is so sad to think that she still doesn’t have a home all this time. She looks like a wonderful dog. I pray someone takes her in soon & gives her a wonderful life.

    1. Ugh… I know, I know. I feel bad for her as well. It sounds like she is doing well in a wonderful foster home, though. I’m hoping they decide to keep her.

  7. Hmm, but maybe the fact that you only want Sasha is simply because of the kinship and affinity you feel toward her? If you used a dog to meet your own emotional needs while giving her the loving and stable home she needed, is that such a bad thing?

    I think it’s sick to specifically want a puppy from a puppy mill (plus, did those people consider the extra difficulties of housetraining?) but that is such a different situation from yours. You just have one particular dog you haven’t been able to get out of your head for three years.

    Maybe the right reasons to adopt a dog are kind of like the right reasons to have a child, and sometimes it comes down to an unforseen situation where maybe you just say a prayer and go with your gut. (I sincerely hope that comparison doesn’t raise anyone’s hackles.)

    I adopted my first dog because a friend had just had a baby, and holding this tiny newborn gave me such an intense and priceless feeling, like the feeling of being a dog’s leader but amplified, which I now would name as pride and love combined, and I felt beyond any doubt that I should keep that kind of feeling in myself because surely it was the most important thing in the world.

    I’ll get another dog, when I’m ready, because I want Sylvie to have a playmate and because there are hundreds of thousands of dogs who need homes. I don’t think the second reason is self-serving, or if it is then the outcome of giving a dog the stable & loving home he deserves is much more important than my own motives for doing so. I wouldn’t go out of my way to find a dog that was horribly mistreated, or one with awful medical issues, but I don’t think you’re doing that, Lindsay. It sounds like you’re just really attached to Sasha over the years, and she’s also sort of your lucky dog as the first dog you ran with your new business.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments. I will always love Sasha. 🙂 Although I know she has a lot of issues I could eventually work through, it’s not really fair to put my boyfriend, cats, dog, neighbors and customers’ dogs through that right now. I do a lot of pet sitting and would have to give that up if I bring a dog-aggressive dog into my home. Who knows, maybe as my life changes a bit and Sasha is STILL looking for a home, it will work out. I do feel very guilty that it’s been more than two years and I still haven’t been able to adopt her. That poor girl has been without a home for way too long.

  8. Gypsy. I can’t get over gypsy. unfortunately she is the worst dog to add to our house, everything about her just wouldn’t fit in at all… but I’m attached. And not going to lie, I thought about kidnapping Jack and Jill and running away with them and Charlie. A pack of little terriers:P

    1. A pack of little terriers! haha! I haven’t met Gypsy. I will have to meet her sometime. It also sounded like Jack and Jill were very nice, little dogs.

      1. Gypsy’s pictures don’t even show how cute she is and she’s been at the kennel way to long.
        Today we were running and I stopped to take a break and she stopped and stuck her head in the snow for a good minute. I got my phone out of my pocket, got a picture then put my phone back into my pocket. I still stood there for a few seconds before she took her head out of the snow:)

  9. I look on Petfinder all the time for dogs! I’m always looking for dogs that would be a good match for my dog, preferably a female dog that is calmer than mine, yet playful and around 4+ years old :). I get a little obsessive about it, if I see a dog that matches the description, I agonize over it constantly going “I wish I could adopt/foster that dog!” and check the site repeatedly to find out anything new about the dog.

    Here’s a link to a dog that I’ve been watching:
    I’m sure you can see why I like her!

    Maybe it’s the fact that I know I can’t adopt another dog due to my rental agreement (and my boyfriend) that I obsessively look. I think knowing I can’t have something makes me want it more.

    By the way, Sasha is an awesome dog, I love the middle picture of her! She must be doing well in her foster since she has been there for quite awhile 🙂

    1. Yeah, I think Sasha is doing well at her foster home, too. Hopefully they will eventually adopt her! I’m sure there will be a second dog added to your home within the next couple of years 🙂

  10. Hi Lindsay,

    I applaud you for searching your soul so as not to be adopting for the wrong reasons. And like Jon Katz, I think it’s wonderful that we should not adopt a dog base on looks/ cutey quotient etc… but as you may have already know, we humans are weak! lol!
    The point is that being true dog lovers has already put us on step closer to getting a-pat-on-the-back from God; but i am sure that’s not why we love dogs. We, dog lovers, strive to love these waggly tails unconditionally as they love us.
    I have never ‘stalk’ a dog before, and despite your claim that you might have the wrong intentions when ‘stalking’ sasha, I believe that your heart is pure & loving. It’s not that you wana show the world that you alone can ‘tame’ that wildness in Sasha, but that you believe that you can tame her into reciprocating the love & patience you are ready to pour unto her.
    For me, living in an apartment; i have to consider the space (so big/ medium/ small dogs?). The management of my building, the fussiness of my neighbours… and it’s sometimes heartbreaking because I can’t open my home up to a dog though my entitlement to dog licences is still available for 1 (a law in Singapore – max of 3 license per private home).
    Guess whatever drives us to taking a new family member in, it just mean one more poor soul finding a reason to smile everyday for the rest of it’s life 🙂

    Bless all of you doggy-lovers!

  11. A few years ago when I was looking for a dog there was a GSD mix (I’m pretty sure she is mixed with Afghan Hound) at the FMHS, her name was Gypsy. I met her and fell in love with her looks and personality, she was so sweet and would have been a wonderful dog. But I couldnt adopt her due to breed restrictions at my townhouse. (I bought a house a year and a half ago) For the last 3ish years not a week goes by where I haven’t thought about “the one that got away”.
    I also have a huge issue with looking at petfinder and I was on there a week or so ago and saw a dog in the GFHS. She was a female GSD mix, about the right age, same color, same tale, same Afghan Hound characteristics and oh did I mention her name was GYPSY!!!! I am certain this is the same dog. I thought, “wow, this is my chance, it was meant to be!” I talked to my husband about her and he was honest with me. He said that he wasnt ready for a third dog and didnt want one right now. I was crushed, afterall this was “the one that got away”! But the more I thought about it the more I understood his position. He is graduating college in December and is facing a year long deployment soon and this would leave me with the responsibility of three dogs all by myself. Although I put in an interest form for Gypsy I have not heard anything back from the Grand Forks HS. I have not called either since we have decided that now is not the time for us. Gypsy is still available in Grand Forks and I check on her occasionally, I wish her the best and hope she knows nothing but love from here on out.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Wow that is quite the story. Sounds a lot like Sasha and I 🙁 My boyfriend is not too thrilled about adding a second dog to our house. Although I can talk him into it, I would rather wait until he actually wants a second dog. It should be a group decision. I hope Gypsy finds a good home soon, both Gypsies!

      Here’s a link to the German shepherd mix at the Grand Forks Humane Society if anyone is interested in adopting her:

  12. Ahh, I’m soooo guilty of this. I volunteer at a shelter so it’s easy to get attached.

    I had one in particular who really pulled on my heartstrings. She was an adorable deaf mixed breed (probably poodle/jack russell) named Annie. I was totally in love with her. The problem was that my condo only allows one dog per unit. Even if I was able to get another dog, she probably wouldn’t be the right dog for me. She was 9 months old and a mix of two smart and active breeds. I don’t think I would have had enough time and energy for her. But…wow…she was an absolute sweetheart.

    I am happy to say that she’s been adopted into a loving home! 🙂

  13. I agree many people do adopt, or buy, based on a dog’s looks only. This should not be surprising in our “looks obsessed” society. People often want a dog they can show off and somehow make themselves appear better, more hip or whatever. Certain dogs represent status too. This is a good post reminding people to adopt (or not adopt) for the right reasons.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Before I adopted Ace, I was looking for a dog that resembled a golden retriever. Not necessarily a golden retriever, but a light-haired, long-coated dog. I’m glad I chose a dog based on temperament and personality rather than looks. And now I prefer black, smooth-coated dogs anyway 🙂

  14. Lindsay, you have described my predicament so well!

    I have one dog now, an eight-year-old male Weimaraner. I have had up to three dogs at once in the past and always thought two was the perfect number. When I lost my Cocker Spaniel several years ago I told myself I would get another Weimaraner someday, when the time is right. Well, it is starting to look like the time is right and of course I found the perfect four-year-old female Weimaraner on PetFinder!

    I live alone and my current dog and I are very attached. It has been just the two of us for several years so I am concerned I subconsciously want to adopt for the wrong reasons. I mentioned it to my mother and asked for her feedback. My worst fears came true when she told me she thought I was crazy to even consider it.

    So, I am still pondering. I can logically justify going through with it, but I can’t shake these doubts. Hopefully one day soon the right answer will come to me. It is nice to know I am not alone!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yeah I totally understand your situation. I struggle with knowing whether I’m making the right choice or if I want another dog for the wrong reasons. Either way, I will always want more dogs!

  15. I’m constantly looking for a second dog to be a companion to Jackson! He loves other dogs and always lived with one until my moms dog passed away. But I have to think to myself: Am *I* ready for a second. My life with Jackson is so perfect right now and I’m worried to screw it up.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh I know exactly what you mean. I don’t want to get another dog for fear of screwing up my quiet life with my current animals. We are all very laid back around here and a new dog would have a high likelihood of adding lots of stress!

  16. I am given new hope about the dog owning world when I see this post and the comments to it.
    As I mentioned above, I work at a dog spa and see a LOT of dogs who have ended up in obviously wrong homes. I never thought I would see so many neurotic dogs! It’s SO sad.
    But when I hear dog lovers talking about owning dogs in a clear, focused, and thoughtful way, I am newly refreshed on my view of the dog world. If more people took the time to consider why they want a dog and knew how to choose the right one for their homes, families, and lifestyles, I think there would be a lot more happy and healthy (not just physically but mentally!) dogs out there.
    I’m glad I found this article, and wish more people read it! Thanks, Lindsay!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, there are so many wonderful dog owners out there. But there are also so many dogs that are not living the best lives simply because their owners are uninformed. I see both sides all the time.

  17. Rubix, I am currently stalking Rubix… I grew up in a multi dog house hold I know I can take good care of multiple dogs, I would like to get a second dog but I’m scared that I am wanting to get a dog for my dog! Nikita is a very social young lady who loves other dogs, she makes dog friends fast! I feel bad for her when we are out for a walk and she will stop and stare down a laneway longingly refusing to budge simply because 6 months ago we ran into another dog in that alley and they played. There’s a house down the street her buddies used to live in, a year ago her buddies ( a Pitbull & a Daschund ) moved. she still leaves her calling card by the gate every day! if someone exits the house while we are walking by she plants her feet and waits and waits and waits… nothing = sad Nikita… I understand that for most people regular trips to the dog park could solve this problem but not where I’m from! We have a dog park but I’m the only one who is ever there! I have been stalking Rubix because I feel like he would be a good companion for my dog.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Well I hope that it works out for Rubix to become your dog! It sounds like you and your dog would both love another companion!

  18. I’ve been stalking a dog for a couple of weeks now. My husband and I adopted a dog a year ago from a shelter and we can’t imagine what we did before her. We went back to the shelter recently to volunteer. That’s when we met the sweetest little dog, rescued from a puppy mill. She was used to make puppies and that’s it. Although she’s not in great shape, she’s still got that sparkle in her eye.

    Here’s the clincher. I’m pregnant with our first child, due in November. Is this the right time to take on another dog? We can give her so much love but I’ve never done this baby thing before… I’m afraid I’d be adopting her selfish reasons.

  19. Lindsay Stordahl

    Well, it’s not selfish to adopt a second dog if you understand the work and commitment involved, which I know you do. So only you know whether or not now is an appropriate time for a second dog, and it has to be the right dog. Does this particular dog come with a lot of issues? Separation anxiety, for example? Is the dog completely housebroken? A lot of puppy mill dogs have no problem peeing and pooping right in their kennels and then sleeping right in it.

    You’d have the whole summer and fall to prepare for the new baby and help your dog through the initial adjustment period. But it may take a lot of work! Better make sure your husband is 100 percent in favor of the idea as you will want his extra help with the baby and dogs! 🙂

  20. Victoria Sweeney

    Reading this story was actually a huge relief to me. I’ve wanted another dog for YEARS and had been researching dog breeds, brands of dog food, different medicines, grooming supplies, and longingly surfing Petfinder for 4 years in college in a “no pets” apartment, waiting for the day I could get my own dog.

    Finally, after graduation and leaving my “no pets” policy apartment behind, my mom supported the idea of us getting a companion for our family dog.

    I had these huge expectations of what the “right dog” would be like and what I thought the perfect dog looked like, as if my dog would be fated to be MY dog. I thought I would feel some kind of special feeling or attachment to a particular dog, and from then on it would be love at first sight – yada yada yada – happily ever after, right?

    Well, I met many sweet, mellow, friendly dogs at the pound and at rescue events, but they were always up for adoption at the wrong time or were adopted out before I could put in an application. I felt that “fated” feeling with many dogs, and watching them all go to good home after good home, I wondered if I would ever find the dog that was right for me and my good home.

    I finally found a dog that was everything I was looking for – in a package that I wasn’t really looking for – at a rescue event. He’s a medium energy, sweet and mellow mutt, and when I met him, I didn’t get that “feeling” I had been so obsessed with all along. I was worried that this was the WRONG dog. He didn’t feel like my destined dog. I always thought I wanted a 60-80 pound dog – he’s barely 40 pounds. I wanted a big German shepherd or a German shepherd mix – he’s a medium collie/aussie mix. I like short fur – his is long. But he’s house trained, good with kids/dogs/cats, loves to ride in the car, and is genuinely an all around sweetheart. Why didn’t I feel that feeling?!

    I realize now that it’s not about some superficial feeling of what is right or destined, it’s what will fit with you and your family for the rest of this dog’s life – which is the next 10-15 years. He’s so perfect for me and friendly enough that I can take him nearly anywhere. And he’ll be great for living in apartments with me for the next few years since he’s not a restricted breed like German shepherds can be and he doesn’t need as much room/exercise as they dog. And even with his long fur, he sheds less than our pug!

    I’ve realized that the attachment to him will come later because of how well he’ll fit into our family because of the research I’ve done to ensure he’s the best fit. His personality, his energy, his friendliness, his trainability, and his house manners are better than I could ask for or dream of.

    Thank you so much for helping me see that I’m not weird or wrong for wanting a dog that I didn’t feel some kind of magic with. Tomorrow night, the rescue is coming to do my home check for the collie/aussie mix – Rusty. Hopefully, I’ll soon be the proud owner of a dog that is perfect for my family because of who he is, not because he is a dog that looks the way I think he should, or fulfills my emotional needs to rescue an animal.

    Thanks again – wish me luck! 🙂

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank you, Victoria. Your story is a good reminder for me as well. I see so many rescue dogs, and it’s easy to get attached to one based on its photo or a one-paragraph description. I didn’t feel that connection with my dog Ace right away. I just picked him because I new it would work out well. There were several others I liked, but he was housebroken, kennel trained and got along with all different kinds of people and animals. It took about a month of having him at home with me before I truly bonded with him and realized he was the one – now I call him a “one in a million” dog. Maybe every dog has that potential.

      Good luck with your Rusty. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

  21. Although my husband and I grew up with dogs, neither of us dreamed of actually adopting one. We had 2 cats and were happy. Then one day, I saw a German Shepherd running around in a main street. He had a collar, but no tags, and I stopped to pick him up. It turns out, someone else had found him prior to me and cleaned him up and put a collar on him. After an exhaustive search for his true owner, I came to the realization that he was probably dumped. I fell in love with him and decided to keep him.

    The months following this decision were hell. Neither of us had grown up with big dogs, and a German Shepherd required training, exercise, and tons of attention. However, we hired a trainer, learned how to interact with Zeke, and now he is part of our happy family. I can’t imagine life without him.

    The reason I am commenting is that I fell prey to the petfinder website. It has been a year since we decided to keep Zeke who loves other dogs. I feel bad he doesn’t have a companion and have thought about getting a second dog. I saw Nola online and fell in love….yes, I did it, I fell in love with her pictures and story. Not only that, but it says she is due to be euthanized in a week. The reason I fell in love with her is that she is smaller than Zeke, but mixed with a boxer so is probably a great wrestling buddy. She is also mixed with Collie, which means she is probably smart, which would also be good for Zeke.

    However, I am going to grad school full time and my husband works full time. Do I have time to train her? Also, one of my cats is afraid of Zeke even though he is never aggressive to her. Would a second dog be too much for her? Finally, my husband will take on the second dog because I want to, not because we both want to. Should I wait until both of us are 100% sure about this decision? People always are telling me there is never a “right” time to have children. Is there ever going to be a “right” time to get a second dog? I am struggling because I am stalking this dog online, but I’m not sure if it’s the right decision. I’m so glad I found your blog because it definitley made me think! Here is Nola:

    1. All I can say is a boxer/border collie mix is going to be full of crazy energy. Nola is also a young dog who will need a lot of training and direction. The fact that she is about to be euthanized is not a reason for you to adopt her. I suggest you take your time, meet several dogs and make a decision after a set period of time, say three months. It’s never a good thing to fall in love with a dog and decide to adopt her based on her photos and two-paragraph bio.

      Then again, she just might be “perfect” for you. There is no such thing as a perfect dog, as you know! If you do adopt her, she will be one lucky dog! But that is also the case with any dog you choose to adopt.

  22. I agree with you. I am currently fostering a lab mix, who I saved from euthanasia. I am an animal lover and very involved with various dogs and cats rescues. At Christmas, I received pictures of dogs awaiting to be pulled before being euthanized at a pound. I immediately fell in love with Tommy, however, I was wrongly informed that he had been rescued. While, I’d love another dog, at this point I cannot, my complex’s rules won’t allow another dog. About 2 weeks after new years, I received other pictures and found out Tommy was out of time, he was scheduled for PTS in a couple days. I could not imagine this happening to him (he had you tube video- he seemed so friendly and scared), I contacted various rescues, no one was interested as not pure breed. I finally contacted another rescue and asked if I was to foster him and pay for his vetting, would they pull him and post him for adoption. It was agreed, so a month ago, I went to pick him up from transport. As soon as he got out of crate and got in my car, I was already attached emotionally, I wanted to care for him, make him feel loved. Like you are saying, I believe I fell for him because I feel obligated to care for any creature that suffered. I didn’t have a very good childhood, so I empathize and perhaps feel that I cannot turn my back on an abused dog, otherwise it likes me turning my back on myself. So, within first week, I was already convinced, I must adopt Tommy. Truth is he is not a fit, while I want to love him and he gets along great with my dog, Curley he isn’t the right dog for my family. After going to an adoption event with him 2 weeks in, I fell once more compelled to adopt him, as I saw how everyone wanted to adopt a puppy but not him, because he was bigger and not a puppy. Though he is just a little over 1 year old. So, as you described, in pained me to watch him been rejected over and over. This month of fostering, it’s been 4 weeks yesterday that I still have him, has been challenging. There are moments where I know he is not a fit and I am doing the right thing, training and caring for him, while we await to find him his permanent loving home. And there are other moments, where I cannot imagine him leaving us, as I wonder if he’ll ever find another home where he’ll be loved and cared for as he is with us.
    Like you described it, some of us feel the need to care for others, while it may be for various reasons, it seems that we get emotionally attached to many of these dogs, for a little something. I rescued two kitten last winter, in a snow storm, they were 3 weeks old at most, I was told they wouldn’t make it, but I fought with them. While I am more of a dog person, I felt compelled to keep them. It was hard to give them up (they got adopted together as they were siblings), but I knew that it was better this way. Same here with Tommy, while it seems that he is one of these special dogs, for whom I instantly felt something for, I need to realize I am too emotionally connected, and not really wanting him. The struggle is I feel that if I don’t adopt him, I am rejecting him. But I am not, like other rescue friends keep reminding me, I saved his life. Thank you for writing about how difficult it can be for some of us to distinguish or rather discern between what we want and what feels right. Again, the question to ask ourselves is why? BTW, I love your blog.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It’s so hard. I want to adopt many, many dogs. Usually I get attached for the wrong reasons: No one else will foster them, they look just like my dog, they are a certain color or a certain breed, etc. None of these are reasons to adopt a dog. However, when and if I do come across the dog that is a good match for my lifestyle and a good match for my other pets, I hope I will recognize it.

  23. Hi Lindsay! 🙂 I have been ‘stalking’ 😉 a pup on for the past several days and am glad I found your article/blog!

    My husband and I have a 1 1/2 y/o puggle, whom I adore to pieces, but have subconciously wondered if she was lonely feeling at at being the only pup. Then very recently I found out my Mom was getting a second dog (happens to be a puppy) as a companion for her almost 3 y/o pup and my friend also recently got 2 puppies at the same time. Thus, I began to check out Then low and behold found a sweet looking pup that reminds me of my own puggle, but with coarser fur and about 8-9 months old!

    I desperately have been wanting to be impulsive and submit an adoption application, but deep down fully know I’d be a complete fool if I did right now in my life, namely for financial reasons (which I know if a #1 reason why not to decide on a second pup).

    So, despite heart as it breaks knowing this pup is still available (and it has only been a short time that she’s been ‘ready for adoption’) I still have to come to terms and just try to ‘be okay’ with knowing she’ll likely find her forever home elsewhere.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me ‘vent’. Thank you!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      One thing you could do is pick a reasonable date in the future and give yourself permission to adopt a second dog at that point – a year down the road or 6 months or whatever it might be. Do your research and browse around some until that point, but no matter what, don’t get another dog until on or after that date. And, suddenly when you admit you are looking for a second dog, suddenly you will see “the perfect dog” everywhere you look!

      I’m sure the dog you are referring to will get adopted. Or if you truly think she’s right for you, I wont judge if you decide to go for it! 🙂

  24. Thanks! Appreciate your suggestions/advice! I’ll continue to browse for sure…and work on some soul searching for figuring out how/when a second pup works for us and how we can eventually find the ‘best’ one for our home. 🙂

    Thanks again!!!

  25. I know it’s late in the game for this, but I work with two rescue groups in Colorado. As a foster, I always try to be as realistic as possible with a potential adopter and be forthcoming with all the terrible things the foster dog has done in my home so they are under no illusion that this dog is “JUST SO PERFECT!” However, I like to follow that up with the dogs good qualities. Take Buddy, for instance. He has marked in my house a time or two. He has pooped on my carpet. He is pushy, rude, and has ripped apart every dog toy I have (they get to go with him when he leaves me, since he doesn’t seem to mind their de-stuffed nature). He refuses to like my parents or grandparents and barks at every stranger who crosses his path. HE is clingy and wants attention 100% of the time. However, he is a sweetheart and a cuddle bug and would make a wonderful companion in a single-animal home for someone who maybe works from home or in a part-time job.

    He has been stressful on my dog, since he won’t play with my dog at all. He is 100% human oriented. He is the last foster I will have for a while since my husband and I have decided to get a puppy to be raised with our dog as a companion for him and for us. My dog loves playing with other dogs, but he needs a dog around him who will not just vie for the human attention all the time. Plus, we both want another dog, and we want our chance to raise a dog from puppy to good canine citizen.

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