Help us fine the right dog for our son and family, who has a few specific requests and a few special needs.
posted by rumposinc to home & garden (39 answers total)
The dog our family had for 15 years passed away this last spring, and while my husband and I are still mourning (though in the 'let's tell funny Louise stories' part of mourning), our son talks to us daily about a dog for himself (Louise got on great with him, and so his impressions of dogs are very positive).
He's young, 5 1/2, though he is gifted identified and at school, has been placed in a first grade classroom which is going well (even socially). The last 6-9 months of Louise's life, our son had taken on a few of her chores--feeding, watering, taking her into our yard, etc., and we taught him as soon as he was toddling how to be gentle and assertive with animals. If we do decide to do this at his age, we'll also be enrolling both him and the dog in a kids' dog obedience class.
He also has a neuromuscular special need which means that physically, he can't manage a large dog on his own, and he REALLY wants to manage the dog as on his own as possible. We're also thinking that if he is managing an animal even 50% on his own, it will provide him some physical confidence to help mediate the difference he sees between himself and his peers.
We've talked a lot and read books about the responsibility involved--we're also not jumping in, we're exploring this as something to look closer to his 6th birthday. He does read independently, has done his own internet research about dogs, and is good with others' animals.
He wants to start with a puppy, and he wants the dog to stay small. He has been interested in miniature and toy breeds, but professes no particular preference. My husband and I have always had mutts, but as singles and a couple we were able to be more fearless about the ultimate personality outcome of the dog--in other words, if the dog we adopted ended up with some somewhat difficult to manage behavior issues, there wasn't our own or other kids to complicate our working with that.
This isn't to say that a shelter dog is off the table--at all. But do share your expertise at determining potential temperament with a shelter puppy of unknown origin and well as predicted size. Also, if you have experience adopting particular breeds or mixed breeds you think would be a good fit from some kind of shelter network, that would be good, too.
For particular breeds that would be a good fit, we're interested in those that are easy to to find (versus rarer breeds)--we'd want to support a small family breeder who keeps the breeding adults as pets and knows a lot about the animals the've sired. We would not use a pet store or family breeder far away (we live in central Ohio).
*Small breed suggestions that are affectionate, work well with children, and easy to find (and mixed breed suggestions, and how to figure out if a mutt will meet those considerations)
*Anything we haven't thought of
Our son's request are that
*The dog is a "cuddly" breed (our kid is affectionate, and his physical limitations mean he doesn't get to do hard physical play as much as other kids and so he sits and reads by himself more. He is offering a very willing lap to this future dog), is introduced to our home as a puppy, is female, is small, will like going to training class with him.
PS--he's not interested in the 'starter pet' genre (fish, guinea pigs, rats, etc.), though we've talked to him a lot about that. He talks about wanting to 'work' with his dog, so a lot of the appeal for him is the kind of give and take dog ownership provides. He did see, first hand, how much work it can be as our dog had A LOT of needs in the end. We know that this will be as much our responsibility as his. We have flexible work lives, as well. He's an only child.