Tuesday, March 09, 2010

thinking about dogs

I've been thinking a lot about dogs lately. As you probably know if you've been reading this for a while, the household has been dogless since mid-December, when Jessie died. Jessie was a Black Labrador who lived to be nearly 15. Her sister Nellie, a Yellow Labrador, had died a year beforehand. I'd had the same dogs for nearly half my life.

Mom and I have been kicking around the idea of getting another dog, but there are a lot of things to consider. I like dogs, when they are well behaved. I'm not wild on being jumped on or otherwise mauled by dogs (Yes, I willingly confess I am more of a cat person, but I do like dogs!). Puppies, though adorable, can be incredibly annoying and destructive. A dog that lives here HAS TO BE good with cats and chickens. That's a very black and white area, it simply cannot have an inclination to chase or kill either of those critters, or it won't stay here. Calm is good.

I don't want to a "buy" a dog. There are so many out there in shelters, I don't see that being a good option for someone who isn't looking for a purebred/show dog/something with papers/something from particular bloodlines or for a particular purpose (all of which are valid reasons to breed dogs, though I'm pretty down on backyard puppy-producers otherwise).

Yet, the idea of bringing an adult or young adult dog into this house, with no knowledge of its background, is pretty daunting. We have had dogs in the past who could not stay because they were much too predatory, and they were sent onward to homes without other pets, where they were a much better fit.

Jessie and Nellie were fabulous with the birds, at least in their older years. Jessie slipped a few times with the ducks when she was young, but I do think it was because she was an actively-used retriever for my duck-hunting brother at the time. We got those dogs when they were little puppies, and I took them right into the coops from the very start so they learned that chickens were not on the menu, and the cats were to be left alone. Probably the best way to ensure that kind of personality again is to start with a puppy. But that makes me go "aaaaack! Noooooo!"

Do I even want another dog? Yes, but there are a lot of things I'm potentially really not looking forward to. Next dog will be allowed in the house, which brings up all sorts of other training issues. The cats are neurotic enough already! Would there have to be baby gates all over the place? I can't take a chance on having a new (unknown, not trusted yet) dog in the studio unless I am there. (Ha ha, this same issue comes up as Mom is starting to babyproof the house for when my niece visits, I say "she can't come in here by herself! I can't babyproof this equipment!")

I dunno. Any advice, all you doggie people out there? I feel like bringing in an unknown adult dog may be a really bad thing (or it could be fine). I don't relish the idea of doing the puppy thing again, but I would if it's the best way to make sure the dog is ideally trained and suited to living with small furry and feathery things. Probably looking for another Lab or Lab mix. Mom will veto anything with Pit Bull in it.

I just want Jessie back. :-( Or Nellie. Or Gio (best dog ever, no offense to the others here). Or Annie. Or Aku. Or Duke.


Anonymous said...

Hey Katherine. There are a lot of nice dogs out there in different rescue groups or shelters - purebred or all American "loveables".

Many dogs are in those rescue groups or in shelter are the result of foreclosures. They are well trained, nice pets who are homeless. I have a friend who has a foreclosure dog. A really nice dog that fit very nicely into her household of smaller animals and horses.

You may have to look and ask questions about their background but there is bound to be a special dog out there waiting for you.

Another thing to consider along with chicken, duck, bird, cat and horse friendly is KID friendly. WIth your new Niece there sometimes, you want to make sure that your dog gets along with kids too.


Jan Blawat said...

Mitzi knows dogs. Maybe she could help you find one.

All I have to say, and I can't believe I finally have the opportunity, is can't you clicker train a dog not to eat chickens?

Anonymous said...

I want to know more about the clicker-training Jan! We may need that, although Cabela has not yet gotten her mouth aorund a chicken, you can tell she reallllly wants to.
I guess my best suggestion is to take your time to find the right dog, and look every where you can. Mitzi was right about needing one who is "kid friendly" as well! Some of the rescue groups can help you, but they often are over-zealous about those who adopt; they will have you fill out many applications and even inspect your home. If you decide that a dog you bring home is not the "right one", they really don't want them back, LOL. We had that experience once...I don't remember if you ever met Tonks. Nice dog at first, but she had an aggressive side. Part of the chance you take when you can't get details on a dog's background.

Anonymous said...

Okay, one solution is to get a dog that is smaller than the chickens. So taht might me just about any of the toy breeds, hmmm...yorkie in the coop! -BMC

Rose Re said...

Katherine, we do a bit of dog sitting for friends around here, and have managed even to teach a rescued track greyhound not to chase birds and rabbits, but it took a long while. Probably would be a shorter route to get a puppy and teach them to respect the critters, then you can turn your back later without wondering. We have a great mini Aussie now who herds the turkeys for us. If your going Lab again, a mix with Aussie was our best dog EVER!

My Two Bits!