Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting ready for a new puppy

Even before we went to England we knew we would get a new dog soon. My sensitive middle son was very attached to our dog who died in March, and is also attached to our neighbor's 15-year old dog. We feel like getting a new puppy is almost a necessity.

Before we went to England we visited a local breeder who I know a little bit who has two litters of black Portuguese Water Dog (PWD) puppies. (Because of my allergies we're looking at purebreds with non-shedding coats.) We were pretty sure we would be bringing one home at the end of October. But when we came home from our trip and the weight of my household and family responsibilities hit my shoulders like a ton of bricks, I began to rethink that decision. For one thing, these puppies are very expensive. And for another, I could see that even though the rest of the family would love the dog, the work would fall to me. A big dog can really only be walked by an adult, and PWDs need intellectual stimulation and exercise and training. I had time to do agility with Jake when he was young; I think I'd just feel guilty I couldn't do the same with this new dog.

I'd thought of a smaller dog earlier in the process, but when I asked my family, particularly dh, they preferred a larger dog. Really, I think, we just wanted a new Jake. And the PWDs we looked at looked just like Jake. But I remembered something an older friend said to me recently "In the end, you're only responsible for your own happiness," and I wasn't sure that getting a bigger dog was taking care of myself.

I asked my family to write me a letter telling me how they would help me out both with the dog and with other work I do when we got a puppy. They didn't write anything. So I started to think about a compromise that both gets my middle boy a puppy and doesn't make me much crazier than I already am. I came up with a smaller dog that costs less, makes smaller poops, and doesn't need it's own seat to travel in a car (we bought a mini-van to in part to travel with Jake). We're getting a Bichon Frise that the boys will be able to walk, even when it's full grown. The boys are fully converted after seeing some pictures. They sound fabulous although some say they're hard to house train -- I hope they're wrong!

I felt sad today when I told the PWD breeder we had decided on another breed, but maybe that's just the end of saying goodbye to Jake. We're working on names for our new puffball (who I plan to keep in a puppy cut)! My hope is that a smaller dog will need less training (maybe I'm wrong there!) and will be easier to exercise. I know the crate will fit into our house better!

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