I have the worst job in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I sincerely love helping to find homes for our dogs. Building this community, planning and executing events, and writing grants seem to be what I was born to do. Maybe it’s growing up Catholic, but seeing dogs no go to new homes at lightning speed makes me feel guilty. Like I could have done more to find them homes.
We bring in over seventy dogs a month from our partner shelter in Kentucky. Some months we bring in more. A high-kill shelter means that if someone doesn’t take them to a shelter out of state there is a high probability that they will die. I can’t candy coat the situation.
At NEW PAWSibilities we never euthanize a dog simply because no one has yet to adopt them. We love them and give them excellent care. And we wait. This week one of our long-term dogs went home! Isn’t that great news?
So back to why I have the worst job in the world. I get to know these dogs and write bios and promotional pieces and then I want to give them all a home. I know that’s unrealistic, but I’m not the only one who feels that way. Right?
I remember the decision to have a second baby. I hated pregnancy so much with the eight months of 24/7 morning sickness that I knew if I didn’t get pregnant right away I would never do it. I’ve known some wonderful human beings who were only children. I knew more singles who were less than wonderful. I wanted at least two and that’s why my boys were born so close together. The longer I waited the less likely I’d be to willingly be that sick again. And, yes, it was even worse the second time around. It was also not the best reason to have a child though it worked out really well.
Adding a dog to your family is a lot like deciding when or if to add another child. How do you decide if a second dog is right for you? Or a third or a fourth?
For the last few months, these are the questions my husband and I have been asking ourselves.
1. How will Coconut react to no longer being the only spoiled pooch in the house? When we got him, I was not working and four or five thirty-minute walks was the norm. He doesn’t seem to like change and my working was a real challenge. We got over the hump, he loves his crate and is good at amusing himself as long as I’m in the room, and so the timing feels right.
2. Can we afford a second dog? Dogs are costly. Food, toys, bones, veterinarian care, a stash of money for emergencies, pet insurance, pet sitters, daycare, grooming, beds, and more all need to be considered. I don’t have any qualms about the added cost though I do feel the need to trim a few things off the budget. As long as my husband and I are both okay with fewer movies and meals out and we’ll be fine.
3. Does my lifestyle allow me to go through the adjustments that will be a part of adding a dog to my home? In my case working from home, availability to affordable and safe daycare and boarding, and knowing my schedule far in advance will make it easier.
4. Is everyone on board? My husband was the dog lover of the household. At first, he didn’t want to consider a second dog which surprised me. I’d show him pictures and read my carefully constructed bios and witty Facebook posts only to have him say no. Then the weather changed and it was obvious our dog was bored because he is the most social animal on earth. We went to pick up Coconut from daycare and asked one of the staff who was Coconut’s favorite playmate of the currently available dogs. Without hesitation, he suggested a dog I had not even considered. We did a meet and greet that day and my husband is not only on board but he is driving the second doggy train.
There are lots of reasons NOT to get a second dog. I’ve heard people list reasons that are more behavioral problems with their current dog rather than reasons to add a pet. Maybe their dog is fearful, or aggressive with other dogs or afraid of being alone. Those are all things that can be helped by a good trainer and, once those are no longer issues, the idea can be revisited. Adding another dog into the mix doesn’t typically fix existing problems and eventually could make them worse. We don’t get many dogs returned to us but when we do they often stem from looking for a quick fix for a pet. Training is more effective, quicker, and in the long run much less expensive.
“But I’ll walk him. I promise, he’ll be good!” These and other pleas from children to their exhausted parents often result in getting a dog. Kids know how to push buttons and wear parents down. That’s how we got our first dog years ago and I still regret letting them talk me into something for which I knew we were ill-prepared to handle. Dogs take work. It is work that has been worth it and then some but unless the adults are equally ready and willing to assume that work, as well as all the financial responsibility, a second dog isn’t a good reason.
But here’s the good news! Lots of you are ready to add a dog. You are ready in every way. We found a home for one of our sweet smaller dogs yesterday and she was ecstatic to have found the perfect dog. Her previous dog had passed away and it was quite a while until she was ready. She went through the process and asked herself could she love another dog as much? Would another dog cause her too much pain? Was she going to be able to say goodbye again? Eventually, she knew the time was right.
There are many great reasons to add another dog into the mix. If you’ve asked yourself the questions and worked out the details, if you know your dog is willing to share and ready for a doggy-sibling, then we have dogs who need homes.
What matters most is that the dog you currently have will be an even happier dog after you bring the new pooch home than before. I won’t happen overnight but if your reasons for getting a second, or third, or fourth dog are the right reasons you’ll be thrilled.
I know that adding a second dog into our family is not going to save every dog who comes into NEW PAWSibilities. But I know that this dog needs a home and that we have the power to change this one dog’s whole world. I never thought I could love any baby as much as I did my first son. Love is a funny thing. I love both of my sons just as much but in different ways. I’m a better person because each son gave me something I needed. I have a feeling it will be that with our new dog.
When you and your dog are ready for a new friend we’ll be happy to help you find your next dog. It’s what we do.