I send a lot of time surfing pet adoption sites, like the omnipresent Petfinder and Adopt-a-pet, Petango as well as the websites of individual rescue and shelter organizations within 10, 25, sometimes 50 miles of me.
Because well, I can be obsessive like that.
Rational me says this is okay since the advance research will help me figure out what I am want in my next pet animal (okay 99% probably a dog) and choose wisely. Besides research comes naturally to me. In second grade, I wanted to be a librarian. After getting downsized three times back in the 90’s, I took a toehold into being a consultant/information broker as the “Knowledge Economy” was in full swing.
I did not become a librarian.
Or buy those information broker business cards.
But I did stay in marketing where research is a large part of my everyday job. It’s my catnip (having owned a couple of cats, I’m allowed this analogy lol). So, I justify all this pet adoption site web surfing by telling myself (and anyone who will listen) that I WILL NOT make a choice about my next pet based solely on my first emotional “wants.” That a strong dose of rationality or levelheadedness WILL GO into my choosing too.
Which leads to paying close attention to a dog’s breed as a big part of that process.
Because oft times it’s our mistakes which teach us the most. And one of mine was in the choice of my first dog, Augie, a Samoyed Husky. Augie with his cute, coal black rimmed eyes and oh, all that fluffy white hair (a combination that also sets off my dopamine receptors LOL). Don’t get me wrong, I adored that dog. But left-brain was M.I.A. in that choice.
Augie was a bundle of energy. That was obvious in the pet store. But heck, what 3 month old puppy isn’t, right?
And let me say right off, that NO I didn’t crate him. My childhood dogs had been confined to a 4 feett by 3 feet space in our kitchen. I thought that cruel, so I decided that no dog of mine would ever have to endure being cooped up. Bored. In fact, my dog will have the run of the house. Yeah, even though both of us were gone 8-10 hours a day for work.
Augie gnawed up part of my staircase of my brand new six-month old home, molding, a couple of couches, and a bunch of other things I can no longer recount. Yeah I read from cover-to-cover the book I bought on Samoyeds. Right AFTER bringing my new pet home. And obviously, I missed what one key characteristic of the breed meant:
Samoyeds are large working dogs. They have HUGE exercise needs.
So to save my house–and my marriage–when I got home from my one hour and a half commute from work, out we went out for a very long walk/run. My daughter would also take Augie to the school park where he could run (we didn’t have a fenced yard) and chase after tennis balls or Frisbees. Truthfully, he didn’t entirely stop the chewing, but making sure he had enough exercise helped until he grew out of puppyhood.
After Augie passed away, I vowed to ALWAYS take a dog breed’s key characteristics into account BEFORE I committed. Which means my next choice, Cody, the Bichon Frise, was deliberate. And mostly a good one.
On the emotional appeal side, Cody had cute, coal black rimmed eyes and a huge bundle of fluffy, white hair (are you seeing the neural pathway pattern being set here? 😉 On the rational side, I could choose to take Cody out on walks (like in the woof & meow header photo) or when I could do no more than crash after work, just let him zoom around the house for a minute in-between his penchant for jumping off beds.
Like I said, getting a Bichon Frise was a choice that worked out very well , though what they say about being difficult to potty train and being crated are true.
So while doing my own zoomies around pet finder sites, I’m always filtering for small and medium dogs and doing a deep dive into breeds whenever it is a breed or some combo thereof in which that I am unfamiliar.
So I’m thinking that I know what I want and that’s what I’ll choose…
Until I break my own rules.
Because when I take a deep dive into individual organizations “inventory” of animals, inevitably, I’ll see some dog (or cat) that I have an instant attraction to that does NOT fit my so-called criteria. Which is the case when I come across what seems to be the ideal breed: a retired, racing greyhound.
Greyhounds are smart, affectionate, gentle, not big barkers…a bit on the larger scale for sure, but LEAN. So no big food costs as they don’t need a lot of food, but this seemed like the path to breaking my very bad habit of plying my pets with treats (usually as bribes). Being overweight is not good for any animal’s health, but for a greyhound, it could be very bad news health wise.
I loved the idea that greyhounds make a great exercise buddy, though they they don’t NEED to run. So I figured that I could let him or her out in my very long backyard and that would fulfill the activity needs. But then I kept reading words like “no small animals” and “not good with children.” Not on every bio (Petango is good about printing this on their bio summaries) but a number of them.
Why is that, I thought (and thank goodness for the internet which means you can research stuff like this easy peasy rather than run out to the library or to buy a book or magazine about the breed like you had to do back in the day).
Yeah, sometimes the obvious completely escapes me. Greyhounds chase tiny rabbits around a track. They do this because they have high prey drive or aggression. I have lots of tiny animals running around my backyard. Like chipmunks, squirrels, and yes, wild rabbits.
I learned that prey drive could also be activated by other dogs. And two small dogs live next door. Cody’s old pals. Each morning they would come to the back patio door to “call on him” to come outside to play. Cute, right?
We definitely were NOT going to subject any of my wildlife friends or dog neighbors to the possibility of being “preyed upon.” So hunting and coursing dogs (which means reluctantly whippets and the Italian greyhound were out of the picture, too).
Lesson Learned: Okay, you can’t always get what you want.
Because in my mind even when you fall deeply in love with an individual animal or breed (AND YOU WILL), it might not make sense for your situation nor be fair to the animal. Be compassionate!
So I went back to cruising the animal adoption sites. But now I’m telling myself to stick to them for research and “window shopping.” Rational side back in control admonishes me to stick to the original plan– wait on adopting a new dog.