|Ruby with her "cousin," my aunt's dog, Hachi|
No, I haven't adopted another dog, although with fellow bloggers like Abby from Doggerel and Kimberly from Keep the Tail Wagging welcoming new four-footed family members into their homes in the new year, one can't help get a little swept away by puppy fever (except that I don't actually want a puppy...) I will openly admit that I've been thinking about it probably more than someone who has only had her current dog for five months should. Mine was a two-dog household for almost ten years, and when I had my foster Elkhound I was convinced that three was the perfect number!
This smaller dog thing is new and exciting, too, since I was once someone who didn't glance at anything under forty pounds, so when I peruse Petfinder I'm looking in a whole undiscovered category. Here are just a few that have caught my eye in recent weeks:
This happy little guy...
Rocco, whose name I wouldn't change
This older gentleman
Being an only child myself, there are a lot of things I appreciate about having an only dog, including being able to focus exclusively on her training, play one-on-one and of course developing a bond as Ruby's best pal, but her pure joy around her kin is hard to ignore. If there is another dog around, I'm definitely second fiddle, so in part it would be hard to give up being the apple of her eye. I'd feel less guilty about leaving her at home during my work day if she had company. It's true, though, that most things are easier with one: visiting family, dog walks, arranging care when I go out of town. Managing her reactivity alongside another dog is not something to be taken lightly either, but is something I've had experience with, and I would be carefully selective in choosing a second dog that would be a source of calm confidence for her, as some of the dogs in her life have proven to be. You can see that I've been doing a lot of talking myself into and back out of it, which all goes out the window when I see those sparkling eyes and inquisitive ears on the screen. The main thing holding me back is unimaginative, finger-shaking adult responsibility.
When I was younger I thought I would have all the animals! Parrots, rabbits, ponies, goats! I slowly worked my way up to my first dog in my last year of college, and while it was not the smartest time to do it, I made sure I was fully committed to her. I turned down my first job offer because I couldn't take her with me. When I adopted my second dog Freya after having Lasya for four years, I did so without a whole lot of planning, and she certainly was not the most compatible match for Lasya, but I think as a grown-up, I've always had a sense of the gravitas of each pet addition, because to me there is no option but forever. Having recently exhausted the cushion I had attempting to save Freya and experiencing last week's scary reminder with Ruby of how quickly expenses can mount when you walk through the door of the vet hospital or emergency clinic, I feel I have a more realistic outlook.
Even if one round of catastrophic vet expenses won't break the bank, when you have multiple pets the odds aren't "ever in our favor." By the time I started thinking about pet insurance, my previous dogs were old enough for it to have been cost-prohibitive. I got insurance for Ruby as soon as I adopted her, and I would not consider another dog currently without doing the same. I'll take this opportunity to say, since my day job is in the insurance industry, that if you don't have several thousand at the ready to part with, it's probably worth looking into pet insurance. I was so thankful that when I had to take Ruby to the emergency clinic last week for vomiting and suspected obstruction (all clear, thank goodness), I didn't have to immediately start questioning what I could afford and where I would get the money if she did require surgery. I've made some changes recently with more on the horizon that could allow me more wiggle room, but the financial responsibility of pet care-taking is a huge factor in the decision and not one I'll be rushing in to.
Another direction I've been seriously considering is fostering again. I've fostered two dogs in the past, a Norwegian Elkhound called Bjorn and a Chihuahua called Vlad. Vlad is the dog who changed my mind about small dogs! The rescue I got Ruby from is always looking for foster homes, and I'm also drawn to applying as a foster home for the local American Eskimo Rescue. I've only known one closely, but I do gravitate toward the Northern/Spitz breeds and Eskies happen to be a good size-match for Ruby.
There is a lot to weigh with either choice, especially since one could lead to the other. Although I've had no trouble letting my previous fosters move on to their permanent homes, there is always the infamous 'foster failure' and especially if the idea of an additional dog of ones own is not entirely out of the question as it was for me in the past - I had my hands full living on my own with two fifty-pound dogs.
Is anyone else considering a second (or third or fourth) dog this year, or thinking about fostering for the first time? If you've experienced both, what do you love about having one dog versus multiple dogs?