Sunday, 7 June 2015

The long road to getting a second dog--spoiler we aren't there yet

This guy loves being around other dogs and now the urge for a second dog has come bounding out of nowhere. 
Maybe because now that he is two (and a bit), we've realized we have raised a pretty great dog. What's better than one dog...two together. I'd love to get a female (to prevent any fighting) Cocker Spaniel. 

Why another purebred dog?
 I have nothing against mutts, I grew up with them. However, even though each dog is different some personality traits and mannerisms shine through in breeds time after time. This is important to me because owning a dog when you work 9-5 can be a pretty selfish thing. To offset that I want a dog I can train and make comfortable, so there is no separation anxiety, who like Boomer will happily sleep for the day while we work but be ready to go adventure in our time off. I know cocker spaniels and knowing a dogs tendencies and being able to read them makes training easier. If I was at home all day I'd get any breed/mix/mutt.

There are two main considerations for us:
Money: if anyone ever tells you dogs are cheap just get one, they LIE! A puppy costs money upfront (from a reputable breeder $700-1000, from a shelter here $300-400). Then a puppy needs to see a vet every 2-3 weeks until it is 4 months old, at a minimum of $40 a visit (if you are lucky). Then it needs to be be neutered or spayed (anywhere from $20-subsidized to $500). Now that Boomer is grown he still probably costs us on average $100 per month. The love you get in return is priceless but you make a lifelong commitment to an animal so it best to go in with your eyes open. 

Time and changes: Boomer was a crazy puppy. We had to watch him every second of the day. No corner was left unturned, no cable, sofa or rug unchewed. Getting up 2-3 times a night for the first month or two was not so fun either. Travelling would also be affected with a puppy as I wouldn't board it overnight while young but it's difficult to travel with one until they've finished all their shots. That beach trip to the Keys (planning for Oct) might be a bit less adventurous as a result. Even an older dog will need time to adjust and involve a lot of training.

I'm looking at two main avenues:
 1.) Obviously buying a puppy. However, now after my first dog I realize what an industry exists around puppy breeding and not always with the dogs interest in mind. A good breeder rarely makes money off dogs when you take all the expenses into account, hence the steep price tag. Those puppies that are so cute and cheap probably come from a puppy mill, as corners will be cut to produce a puppy at that price. We've found a breeder that, rarely breeds, health tests all her dogs and breeds for quality. While I'm not so worried about a champion pedigree, I am about how the breeder treats all her animals and then the health of the puppy I might buy. Yes it's expensive but that price tag comes with peace of mind.

2.) Adopting a slightly older dog. This reduces the expense--no puppy shots or spaying. Then it's also lovely to be able give an abandoned animal a second chance.  However, an older dog is not as mouldable and may suffer side-effects of having been abused. When I see dogs like this I'm looking for a confident easy going personality. That is easier to work with than a very timid dog, plus Boomer really does not get along with submissive dogs.

 We've seen two dogs now (one even breaking the female rule). They both were cute, of course, but came with serious health issues. One was likely to die within two years due to serious heart problems. Not good when we want to have Boomer bond with this dog. 
The most recent, Alanis, was heart worm positive, something we didn't know until we met her. The rescue pays for the very expensive treatment but for the 3-4 months she'd be getting the treatment her heart rate would have to be kept low. No running, playing or anxiety of any sort. So playing with Boomer would be out and so would travel. In the long term the worms may have damaged her heart so running (with me) and hiking would probably be out for life. It was very hard to say no to her as she had the exact personality we are looking for. She is even a bit of a talker like Boomer. But our household is not the best environment for her recovery and long-term we wouldn't be able to be very active with both dogs.
Alanis is at Pawmetto Lifeline in SC if anyone would like to adopt or sponser her

It's going to be a long road to find a cocker in a rescue that does not have temperament or health issues. It feels selfish to not take the sicker dogs but someone will adopt them. Maybe when I'm older and my lifestyle has changed a little I'll take the sicker ones. Both times we've looked at rescue dogs has been honestly heartbreaking. I've carried around a cloud of depression for days after saying no. I'd take them all if I could but it's got to be a good fit for us and them.

It seems like the process of getting a second dog is going to take forever but maybe that's the way it's meant to be, they aren't disposable toys. So until a puppy is produced by a good breeder (may be waiting a year or more on this) or we see a good fit with a rescue dog we are playing a waiting game. We'll  get there eventually!

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