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To Add or Not to Add (a dog), That is the Question

Author: Nicole Stewart | Date: September 21, 2012

I’m a planner.  Anyone who has ever met me knows that I like to have a plan.  Whether it works out or not, I work better with one in place.  So, when my beloved Golden Retriever, Denver, was around 5 or 6 years old, I began to look at the plan for the next five years.

I had just gotten married.

Kids were in the plan, assuming I was blessed with them.

From all my training experience, I knew that having a new baby and a puppy would be my downfall.

So, here was the plan:

Get puppy.

Socialize and train him.

When he’s about 18 months, get pregnant.

This way, when the baby was born, the dog would be past the age of maturity in canine development.

You see?  I’m a planner.

Now there’s something to say for plans, and I have to admit, this one worked out pretty much as I set out.  What I didn’t anticipate was how my Golden would feel about this new addition.  She basically pretended that the puppy didn’t exist for the first three months.  Seriously, she acted like it was all a bad dream.  Every time he got too wild or took her toy, she’d look at me as if to say, “So, when is he going back?”   Luckily, she was willing to roll with it and ignore the little guy’s intrusion—in that, I was blessed.   Almost exactly on the last day of his third month with us, she started to play with him in the yard.  Maybe she finally realized that he was a permanent fixture and she better be the one to initiate the relationship rules, I don’t know. Regardless, they did begin to build a friendship and in the end.  I think Denver did like him.  He, on the other hand, was obsessed with her.  For good and for bad.  He had to be where she was at all times and anything she wanted, he took from her, but he adored her.  He was lost after she passed away.

The thing I wonder about was this:  Was the relationship as beneficial for Denver as it was for Finlay and my husband and I?

Finlay was our way of making sure we weren’t dogless at a time when we would be knee-deep in the beginnings of parenthood.

For Denver, however, was her life better?  Would she have been better off to have lived her whole life being able to chew what she wanted when she wanted?  I like to think that his companionship was good for her overall.

What I do know for sure is that as Finlay approaches 6 years old, I’m starting to feel the urge to add to our canine family, but this time, I’m keeping Finlay in mind as we think this through.

A couple things that I keep in mind while weighing in on this decision:

  • Just because I bring a new dog into the family does not mean that they will bond.
  • Bad behaviors in the older dog will most definitely be taught to an incoming puppy or younger dog.  (Finlay resource guards certain items and that can be passed down to a puppy)
  • Does Finlay thrive as an “only” better?
  • Am I getting a second dog so we don’t have to suffer the quietness of a dogless house one day?
  • Of course the doubling of my overall pet care bill is on the list as well.

So, I don’t know what our family will do, but I know that I will think about what’s best for everyone including our current furry family member.

How about you?  What was your thought process when you did or did not add a second dog to your family?





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