It occurred to me the other day, while watching our two dogs play, that having two dogs, ages apart, is really a good thing. I mean when a family adopts dog siblings and raises them together, that is a fine option, they grow together and will have each other until the end, it's a wonderful thought.
But this is what got me thinking. Claire, our 6+ year old has been with us since she was just a little over a year old. She's learned our rules and the way we love her. She has learned our routine, and who is who around our house and has settled in as a member. She has always been a great dog, super intelligent, and so gentle, it didn't take much to train her. Claire is friendly (if not just shy) around other animals, people in general, she even likes cats. She has never chewed up the children's toys, she never put her paws on the bed, or table or couch. We prefer it that way, she may have done it once, but with knowing it is not acceptable to us, she's never done it again. She knows she has to go outside to bark, that standing in the kitchen while food is cooking is out of bounds (only because she's on the bigger side, its dangerous for her to stand in the middle while we carry hot food around, I don't want to trip, would you?) She knows when someone comes home we are going to lavish attention on her and talk to her the way we talk to each other. She knows that we want to take her for a walk, and will gently remind us by standing next to her leash.
So this year, we decided to get a second dog, for many reasons, but for the most part we wanted to expand our family. Having another human child is out of the question, so getting four-legged furry K9 child was the best option. We have Claire, and my Cat ( really, he's the family cat, but he's MY cat, I love MY cat) Sammy, whom Claire loves too. So the search was on to find the perfect fit. We spent months looking in shelters, scouring Petfiner.com and looking at the many SFBay Area Rescue groups. There was quite a lot of discussion on what kind of dog to get, age, size, color, temperament (no, breed never entered the list). We attended quite a few dog adoption events, but being four individuals with four different opinions, we just couldn't decide. Then one day I see an Event happening not to far from our home, I take my children over to have a look. My heart wasn't really in it, I thought because my husband choose not to attend, we would come home empty leashed, again. There were many lovely dogs, but the one we didn't look at, was our now Tucker. He had curled up, was non-engaging with anyone who attempted to pet him, and was plainly uninterested in being there. I had found one older dog that I liked, and my daughters naturally fell in love with a little puppy who was too young for me. So I called my hubby to come be the judge, bring Claire too in case she had some kind of sense. He showed up, met both of the dogs and as usual it was total disagreement. But then he surprised me, and walked over to Tucker, and asked to meet him. Tucker perked up a bit at my husband's attention, then suddenly nestled into our little circle, cozying up to Claire and jumped up on my leg as if to say, "Yeah, I was waiting for you!"
So, now we have two dogs, and our home life is quite content, if not loud. But here is the reason why I think having two dogs ages apart is the best option. Claire knows the ropes. When we got Tucker, he was fresh out of the gate. We have no idea what kind of background he had, he was rescued from a CA high kill shelter, and brought to this event after just a few nights after being fostered. Claire has been the best teacher, and we've hardly had to train Tucker at all. He has his own personality, but he mimics Claire 90% of the time. She has taught him to bark outside, stay off the furniture, and stay out of the kitchen during meal preparation time. It took him a little time to learn not to chew up the kids toys, but with patience on our part and him observing Claire, he only plays with the dog toys we provide. He gives Sammy cat space and actually wants to play with him sometimes. Tucker is the perfect fit, and I'm so glad we found him.
Someday when Claire passes, we will still have Tucker. I have no doubt that we will always have dogs, its part of our life. But I believe the cycle will live on, and Claire's gentle ways will be passed down from one four-legged furry member to the next. Each dog might teach the next dog member our ways, and we will always co-exist, peaceful and loving. I don't know what we were thinking 4 years ago when we said we didn't want any more animals, although , it could have been because our children were very young, and Claire was such a good girl. Getting more animals may have upset the balance. But today when I look at my entire family, my thoughts have completely changed, then it occurred to me, why didn't we do this sooner?