Should we rescue a dog? Sounds like an easy question. For our family, it’s not that easy.
You see, my husband and I were both raised in families without dogs. We felt free to take off anytime and go skiing, hiking, or visiting friends. Thinking back to our thoughts about adding a dog to our family, I have to laugh. Imagine this….
- dogs are dirty
- they don’t walk well
- they chew up your house and house contents
- they jump on people
- they sniff crotches
- they shed
- my brother was bitten by a dog on his paper route
- they bark all the time
- our house will smell
- my customers might be afraid
- they cost a lot of money
Why would even consider getting a dog with all these negative aspects?….
….Because we had two children who kept asking for a dog. Was it fair to share our fears and trepidation with our children? Were these facts or fiction?
Since we are very logical, analytical people, we developed a new game plan. As a family, we tuned in to the National Geographic channel to view Cesar Millan, “The Dog Whisperer.” We taped and watched several shows together. We all learned quite a bit about breeds of dogs and how Cesar is always called into rehabilitate dogs and train people. Our entire family was on the common ground, learning about dog psychology and how Cesar trains the owners to benefit not only the living situation at home, but helping the dog to enjoy every moment of his life too.
My husband, Rob, bought two books, A Member of the Family by Cesar Millan and The Loved Dog by Tamar Geller. We both read both books. The philosophy of positive reinforcement was clearly shown in both books.
Now here’s our list of things we learned…
- Each family has a certain energy. We need to look for a dog with a similar energy.
- Dogs live in packs. When people adopt a dog, the dog joins the family pack. It’s important not to let the dog lead the pack, but find his or her place within the pack.
- We learned that a happy dog has a calm, submissive behavior.
- One member of the family cannot adopt a dog. It must be a family decision. If not, it will only lead to problems.
- Our body language is interpreted by the dogs.
- We learned to read a dog’s tail.
- Every dog needs exercise, discipline and affection every day and in that order.
Armed with new knowledge of dog psychology, we investigate the dogs at Baypath Humane Society online. The guys in our family want a “manly” dog. The ladies want a Sheltie-size dog. We venture to the Baypath facility in Hopkinton. It was April school vacation 2009. It was a beautiful, Thursday afternoon. All the dogs are barking. The place smells like “dog.” There’s one dog just looking at me. His ankles are a little crooked, but his face is so cute. I ask if he has a birth defect in his legs. The worker smiles and tells me he is a mix between a shepherd and a basset hound. His legs are basset legs and his ears, tail and body are shepherd-like. We take “Rocky” out for a walk and he is sweet. Now I’m worried that this may become a reality. We may convert from a dog-less household to dog owners. My husband meets us at Baypath Humane Society and greets Rocky. We put the two of them in the back of my SUV to see if Rob has an allergic reaction. Thankfully he does not.
We welcomed Rocky into our family eight months ago. Now, not only have our long list of fears been debunked, but I have discovered a new growth of my heart. I now mow the lawn and garden with a four-legged companion at my side. I sit at my sewing machine with my new friend at my feet. I do not feel confined to our home. I am welcomed home several times a day with a helicopter tail. I have walked almost every day in my neighborhood. Since I now walk with Rocky, I have met lots of new people. Rocky looks so unique and behaves so well, people inquire as to his pedigree.
Should we have rescued a dog? It’s still early, but so far so good. Here’s a quilted image of Rocky.
If your children are hounding you to rescue a dog, due to clever tv commercials or peer pressure, whatever the reason, I recommend watching “The Dog Whisperer” and perhaps dispelling some negative perspectives. Education and training of people can lead to a successful adoption of a new member of the family.