For the past almost-eight years our cat has watched in horror as we have, on a nearly every-two-year cycle, added babies to our family.
He was annoyed after David was born, incredulous when Mary was born, apoplectic after Thomas, and after Anna’s arrival he’s been trying to blend in with the furniture as he silently plots our demise.
Being a cat in a family with four small children is not always easy.
We’re planning to add another member to the family. We just started doing some research on adopting a dog. (Sorry for that click-bait title, Mama’s gotta get those page views!)
Tom and I have always wanted a dog, but we’re incredibly cautious about adding to our tower of responsibilities that is already dangerously teetering on the edge of collapse.
We have always loved dogs and wanted our kids to grow up with dogs, but we’ve got enough to do, thank you very much. Whenever our kids ask why we don’t have a dog we answer completely honestly, “because we got a sister instead.”
Another one of my hesitations is that I don’t really know how to take care of a dog. I grew up with dogs, my family always had at least one dog. But I also grew up in a rural area where dog-ownership looked very different than it does in the suburbs. We didn’t walk our dog or have to pick up poop. There were no leash laws, and our dog (we mostly had Labs) literally never came inside. Ever. The only exception was when my mom and dad left us alone and we’d let the dog inside as an act of rebellion.
But it’s 2019 and I live in the suburbs, where dogs aren’t allowed to stay outside because they are much more delicate than dogs were during the mid-90s in the country. Dogs must be kept inside where they won’t get dirty and can monitor their Instagram accounts.
I’m only 25 percent joking. The remaining percentage is completely serious.
We’ve always wanted to get a rescue dog, and assumed that the best dog for our family would be a mixed breed. Then we started researching and we think we have found the perfect breed. [DRUMROLL…] We’re pretty sure we’re going to get a Greyhound.
If you’re furrowing your brow right now, hear me out. From all of our research and YouTube-watching, Greyhounds seem like the perfect breed.
They don’t shed, they don’t bark, and they’re gentle. They like to lounge around all day, but they also love to play and fetch. They do require sweaters in the winter, and a warm, cozy bed, but that’s ok because dogs in 2019 can’t stay outside all day anyway!
Don’t tell our future greyhound this, but at first Tom and I were kind of like, “Well, they seem like the perfect dog…but they do look odd.”
Maybe you’re thinking that, too? If so, might I suggest you spend a few nights this week looking at YouTube videos of greyhounds and reading greyhound fun facts, like this one: Did you know that greyhounds can run up to 45 miles per hour? And they get up to speed IN THREE BOUNDS! Also, did you know that greyhounds can see BEHIND THEIR HEADS?
This is our favorite video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc8Hno4M0Qs&t=13s
And this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwO1vF2GWkM
They’re super-cool dogs, and after we learned about them Tom and I both agree that they’re beautiful dogs, too.
Mary isn’t completely convinced. We got a couple of dog care books from the library and she keeps finding pictures of adorable fluffy puppies (The Bernese mountain dog! The Lhasa Apso!) and showing us, “Look this cute one! Don’t you like this one?”
Is it a greyhound? No? Then we’re not interested.
She made a list of the cutest puppies and walked them around the house asking for votes. Tom and I voted greyhound, and guess what, kids? Mom and Dad are the only ones who are legally old enough to vote!
Brigham is oblivious, but he should be paying attention. The only requirement the hospital had when they sent us home with our babies was that we had a car seat. Dog adoptions, though, don’t happen without a home visit, three references, and a CAT TEST. If Brigham is as smart as we think he is, he’ll start a sabotage campaign right now.
But we hope he doesn’t. Even a grumpy old cat can benefit from having a dog.
How cute! I am a dog person, but you made a good case for a cat!
I love your sense of humor!!! I was nervous about getting a dog too, but once we got one we ended up with two. I think it was the best thing we did for our family and daughter. Good luck with your Greyhound they do look like a good breed.
I am currently owned by my 7th and 8th Golden, and 1 lab mix. 2 are much easier than 1 in terms of care. My 7th Golden will be 11 in May. The vet recommended about 2 years ago, that we look for another dog so our younger dog, the mix, wouldn’t crash, so last June, we rescued a puppy. The lab mix was acquired due to the same situation 3.5 years ago. Friends at home had neighbors who felt their newborn needed a puppy. Frankly, I’m shocked that with 4 children you missed this necessity. I thought puppy was on everyone’s gift registry, after crib, and before diapers. Needless to say, the dog was tied out, with no shelter, in all kinds of weather. The neighbors had started to look for a new home, and while I wanted another Golden, I felt God wanted us to take this little girl, and we wouldn’t have been able to live with ourselves if we had left her. She is the sweetest most mild little girl. We named her Emma Grace because, like kids, they need a middle name to use when you are angry. But, we’ve never needed to use her middle name. Now that she is the lone girl, sandwiched between 2 rambunctious males, I told my husband we need to call her Emma Rose, because she is the rose between two thorns.
I can’t say that I find their shedding unmanageable. Feeding a good food helps tremendously. We like Merrick, because it is made with all US products. Don’t let the price give you sticker shock. Our dogs get one cup twice a day, which is less than what the bag recommends, but is what our vet suggested. But, I also add a tablespoon or so of canned to change the flavor daily, and I also cook for them. They love baked potatoes, so when we have them, I make extra. This puppy likes Clementines, watermelon, and all forms of veggies, which means no anal gland problems.
I would NEVER recommend a puppy to a family with children under 10, simply because puppies are WORK. I’ve had 3 puppies. My first Golden, who made it to 15.5 years, and the 7th and 8th Goldens. The 7th had been a present for a family with 5 kids who lived in a single wide trailer. I don’t know where there is room for that many people, let alone a puppy, and when he reached the chewing stage, he was gone, because there was no room for a crate. The 8th was from a family who didn’t realize the time commitment. I wanted a puppy, because a puppy forces one to walk and not be a couch potato. We hadn’t realized quite how sedentary we’d become until the puppy joined our household. On the other hand, he also forced the 10 year old to be more active, which is a good thing.
But, older dogs generally come housetrained and with some manners, and they are over the puppy energy. Two tend to play with each other, and keep each other company.
Start looking now on Craig’s list for crates, which can often be had for a fraction of the price. My husband thought crating appalling when we first met, but then, he saw how the dogs went inside by themselves. We have metal ones, and we have the nice furniture ones that look like end tables. The other reason is a practical one. People didn’t evacuate during Katrina because they refused to leave pets not welcomed at shelters. So, now, as long as people have crates, animals are accepted at shelters, generally in another part separate from housing. God forbid one has to ever evacuate, but between weather, gas line breaks, etc., it is possible. But, make a list of things you will need, and get them as you see them for sale cheap somewhere.
PetCo has a great program. Take in the adoption papers, and you get a booklet with all kinds of great deals, including free food. We feed Merrick, because it is made entirely in the US, but I redeemed the free offers and donated them to the shelter.
You might also want to consider health insurance. Yes, really. Vet medicine uses all the same things people medicine uses, so it is just as expensive. And, you don’t want to have to euthanize a dog, or give it to a rescue because you can’t afford care. We went with Nationwide, because they are a real insurance company. It is around $250, year. Don’t get a plan that includes the yearly well visit, as it is a known expense. You want something that covers emergencies, MRIs, cancer, etc.
Also, call your county extension office. 4H offers various programs for kids and dogs, and David might really like doing something with it. They learn to care for the dog, obedience, etc., and they can progress to pet therapy programs, and showing the dog in obedience. AKC allows both purebred and mixes to participate in dog shows in obedience, agility, etc., as long as they are spayed/neutered.
Oh, make sure you let your insurance company know you’ve acquired a dog. Then, you are covered, but there are some breeds increase your homeowner’s premiums, and some breeds they won’t cover if there is an incident. I remember when we moved here, and I said “Golden Retriever,” the agent kind of snickered and sarcastically commented that the dog would probably lick a burglar to death. For a treat, the burglar would definitely be let in the house, amd for two, they might help carry the valuables out.
I have to agree with Mary that Bernese Mountain dogs are great. And, they are born calm. Every time we’ve been in the market for a dog, I’ve considered one, but a Golden always is available, or, Miss Emma. I love the way they are trained to pull wagons, though I’ve worked with mine to pull our wagon.
My response is longer than your post. I hope you find some helpful information in it. I obtained my first Golden from a backyard breeder, before I knew the correct questions to ask. It was my first job after college, and was in a small rural town. If single, one’s choices for entertainment were drugs, drinking or dogs. I bought a Golden, and joined the local kennel club. 2 weeks later, the vet asked if I’d take a 3 year old. He was being abused, by an owner who told me the dog was “so affectionate it is disgusting.” He bought home because he thought he’d look nicer chasing tennis balls across the lawn than the German Shepherd he had owned. He couldn’t wait to get rid of the dog to get a German Shepherd. I’ve always had at least 2 Goldens ever since, with the exception of 3.5 years of a Golden and Miss Emma.
We really work to socialize them, and we travel with them, because it is cheaper than boarding, where they always get sick. It is like sending your kids to school. They will get whatever goes around. Also, I think their life shouldn’t be confined to the house and yard.
And, each day, I try to be as good of a person as my dog is. Forgiving of mistakes, compassionate, non-judgemental, helpful, even when help isn’t needed. Non-critical. Welcoming.
Haha love this post! And that whole dog thing in the suburbs… so true! We always had country dogs, but now we have an in town dog and yeah.. I am worried that I will be called in for letting her outside.. in her own fenced yard. Dogs are fun and your kiddos will end up loving him/her.
I love that you are thinking about your cat in all of this! When I met my husband, his dog came along with the package and my cat (of only a few months) detested the idea. He now lives with my parents and loves his new life. I am more of a dog person anyways I just didn’t have the time for a dog when I got him. Also, I grew up with outside dogs too and love you that you mention the spoiled dogs of today in “Dogs must be kept inside where they won’t get dirty and can monitor their Instagram accounts.” I laughed out loud!
I love that you are thinking about the cat – so sweet!
Haha! The part about your cat blending into the furniture and planning your demise was funny. I grew up in the country too where everybody’s dogs and cats ran loose outside and nobody cared. Now everybody has perfectly manicured yards and like you said, dogs have to keep up appearance for their Instagram accounts. LOL Several years ago, my kids wanted a dog, but owning a bigger outside dog is (like you said) a lot more trouble than it used to be. It can actually be a liability because everybody can sue you over just about anything and heaven forbid your dog bark past 8pm. We finally decided on a small poodle. This was different for us because we had never had anything but big outside-dogs. The poodle was a great choice for us. He is such a sweet family dog. He doesn’t shed which was a HUGE decision for me – but I wasn’t thinking about having to get him groomed every month or two which can get expensive. Poor little guy – sometimes my husband just shaves him and he looks like a big wet rat until his pretty white curls grow back – but it’s free! LOL He’s nine now and still the center of my family’s attention. I hope your family enjoys your new dog. Oh, and I hope your cat will adjust better to the dog than he did to your babies. 🙂
I loved reading this. But I have to cast my vote in Mary’s favor and say look at an Aussiedoodle. We got ours in December. We have always had boxers, who in fact are the most spastic, super-shedding lovers there are. We had to put our last boxer down due to old age. My heart finally healed enough for a dog. We too have a snooty cat who skillfully rules the roost. She is very angry at us for bringing Jack home. She has been sulking and hissing since early December. I am like, “Nahla, let it go.” Jack is like, Hey, Hey you..play with me!” Jack has been the best gift to our family! Good luck to you and the cat.