Jumping back in
July 30, 2012 11:57 PM   Subscribe

Going to look at a "Used" dog tomorrow, don't know if I'm ready again but would like some pointers. (On preview... wow am I long winded, sorry)

Hi there,

So... it's been about a month since my buddy died. I really appreciated the help you guys gave me WRT picking a photo for my vet. It's been an extraordinarily difficult month without him. I'm working from home every day this summer since May and lasting until September so I was with him 24/7, literally every room in my house has some awesome memory of him and I. This has severely impacted my ability to "get over it" so to speak, the loss still feels overwhelmingly raw a lot of the time and I spend a disproportionate amount of time being really upset. My wife is working outside the home 5 days a week so she gets to step away from it all which has really helped her.

To the point... We've talked about another dog previously (usually when prompted by well-meaning relatives and friends who say "You should get another dog") but both decided it was too soon. That said, last weekend I started "just looking" at online classifieds of dogs for sale, one thing led to another and I found this girl. I pointed her out to my wife who instantly suggested we go have a look.

I called the owner and asked a few questions. The dog is being given up because she has two small children and is just finding it all to be overwhelming. She's spayed and up-to-date on shots. Housetrained and Kennel trained with lots of time at the leash free park so good with other dogs and kids.

After a lot of discussion tonight we've decided we're going to have a look tomorrow and see how it goes. Mrs Inbound is very certain that she is ready to think about another dog, and that it would be really good for me since I'm home by myself for the next 6 weeks.

On one hand... I'm not so sure, I REALLY miss my old buddy and part of me feels like I haven't had time to mourn him properly and that a new dog so soon would be callous and disrespectful to his memory. We still haven't decided what to do with his ashes.

On the other hand, I also miss just having a canine presence in the house. As Mrs. Inbound pointed out, a new to us dog could bring some much needed joy into our home and maybe help me finally say goodbye to Snip. Taking emotions out of it, right now is probably the best time for a dog like this to join our lives. With 6 weeks of being at home she could settle in quite nicely while I'm there to keep an eye on her, the weather is nice so we can get out and walk, hike, and bike lots. My hanging on to memories of Snip are really the biggest argument against this dog.

So, my questions are:
1) The touchy-feely one... is it realistic or foolish to go tomorrow and just think that once I spend some time with this dog I'll know whether I'm ready or not? I'm having a very hard time reconciling a desire to have a dog in the house with my feelings of guilt over "replacing" Snip so quickly.

2) More practically... IF I decide to to take this dog, is there anything special to look for and ask about in a 10 month old that I wouldn't consider looking for in a puppy? I know there COULD be behavioural issues, but at only 10 months I think the risk is quite small. Obviously we will insist on a veterinary inspection and all her medical records to date. I was going to insist on my veterinarian in my city, but It's a 2 hour drive to go see this dog so I think I'll ask them to book an appointment with their vet (my expense) next week and meet them there. That way if Shelby passes I can take her home directly.

3) Cats: My wife (and I) have two indoor only cats. I broached this with the dogs current owner and was told that Shelby has never had any real contact with cats so she has no idea how she would react. I know that the only way to really tell is to put them together (carefully) and see what happens. To that end, I was considering asking for a "trial" of one week with Shelby to see how it goes (providing we decide we're interested). Is this something that's done? I know breeders and shelters will give you a trial period, but this is just a regular person. Any tips on how to ask? Any tips on how to introduce them (they adored Snip)?

4) What am I missing/not asking that I should be?
posted by Beacon Inbound to Pets & Animals (25 answers total)
1) The touchy-feely one... is it realistic or foolish to go tomorrow and just think that once I spend some time with this dog I'll know whether I'm ready or not? I'm having a very hard time reconciling a desire to have a dog in the house with my feelings of guilt over "replacing" Snip so quickly.

I'm not sure that you would know right away. When my older dog died, he had required so much daily care (15 years old w/ cancer) that I knew I wasn't ready for another dog but just needed something to care for because I didn't know what to do with all the extra time I'd used for that. So I got two rescues within 3 weeks of his death and told myself I was just improving their health and training and getting them ready for adoption. It took me a good 3 months to come out of denial and come around to the idea of having them permanently. I didn't even start bonding with them at all until that.

A year on, I am REALLY happy that I kept them and don't feel guilty at all. So I think even if you feel iffy and conflicted at first, if all it is is just guilt over "moving on" rather than actual problems caused by the dogs, that will diminish.
posted by cairdeas at 12:23 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you should give this a fair chance.

Won't bore you with the details, but it's actually quite wonderful when the right new friend joins the family after a recent passing.

No one will ever replace King in my life. No one. But it's kinda funny how Kitty seems to "channel" him all the freakin' time - even 8 years later. It's like a 2 for 1 deal. (Yes, I still cry sometimes. In a very good way, though!)

Go ahead. Be blessed. And bless another who needs a great new home like yours.

(PS - This particular pup might not be the right one, but the right fit for you and an unknown new pup is sure to materialize. You've got space in your heart and your home. It's OK to fill it up with another that needs what you've got to offer.)

Thanks for this question.
posted by jbenben at 12:41 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

When Samson, my Akita of blessed memory, died, I was traumatized. I could barely manage to think about him without bursting into tears. Like you, I thought getting a new dog was a bad idea. And I did take some time. But then this beautiful little bundle of fluffy love appeared and for an entirely silly reason that still matters to me, I kind of felt she had been blessed by Samson --- I know, I know. I feel like an idiot even say it.

My point is, once I allowed myself to have another dog, I found it very healing. She helped transform my sadness over Samson's death into joy over having shared a very good life with a wonderful dog. YM, of course, MV.

Make sure your dog is well socialized. Does he come when encouraged? Does he look to a human for affection and play? Is he cuddly? Does he like to be petted? When you raise your hand quickly, does he cringe. Fear aggression is really hard to work around. Make sure he does not have it.

Dogs and cats. Oy. I suggest that you introduce the dog to the scent of the cats by having them on a towel or something and putting that towel on the dog's bed. Do this for a bit and then introduce a cat (one!) in a very controlled environment. DON'T be nervous. Your dog will notice and reflect that in his approach to the cat. Everyone will get their hackles up andit will get bad. If you can, just have the cat in the room, bring the dog in the room. Let the dog notice the cat in a way that implies you could care less. Hopefully, the dog will as well. That said, have a leash, treats and toys ready to divert dog from cat if needed.

Good luck.
posted by driley at 12:43 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

"I'm not so sure, I REALLY miss my old buddy and part of me feels like I haven't had time to mourn him properly and that a new dog so soon would be callous and disrespectful to his memory."

Dogs hate to see their humans unhappy and grieving, Snip would want you to go forward and share all that love, making another dog as happy has he was in your home.

We lost our beloved Meg over ten years ago but in all the grieving I couldn't bear to be without a dog so we adopted 2 rescues within a month of her passing. It was absolutely the best way to heal. Not a day goes by without me thinking of Meg but her legacy is the ability to love our dogs wholeheartedly and enjoy them in the (way too short!) time we have with them.
posted by humph at 12:47 AM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

When I was sixteen my dog got ran over. I was devastated.
My mum really wanted to get a new one for the family and they did while I was still grieving.
Almost thirteen years later, that very wonderful dog is still around and I still don't *quite* love him.
posted by mkdirusername at 1:18 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

You shouldn't think of Shelby as a replacement for your buddy. No dog will ever replace your buddy. Instead, think of her as a gift from your buddy, because if he did not die, you never would have found her.

If you are at the point in your grieving process where you can look at another dog and think this is the one, I think you are ready for a new buddy in your life and you should go for it! Shelby is a beautiful dog and it sounds like she was raised in a loving home. I hope it works out. Good luck!
posted by wherever, whatever at 1:46 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think your idea of a trial period, both for you and for the cat's sake, is a great idea. In terms of your statement "a new dog so soon would be callous and disrespectful to his memory"...set that aside, I understand where that thought comes from, but, no, "memories" don't feel you being callous.

Given your life situation, and your obvious love for pups, this appears to be a pretty good choice at the time.
posted by HuronBob at 2:18 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Agreed, the trial run thought is a great idea; maybe bring Shelby over for an afternoon or two, and if that goes well, try a couple days.

As for a new dog being disrespectful to Snip's memory:
Instead of it being disrespectful, turn it around: Snip was such a great dog, someone who brought so much love and joy into your world, that you really want that back in your life --- I see it as more of a COMPLIMENT to Snip than anything else.
posted by easily confused at 4:04 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

Anoth thought, if you're not sure you are ready for another dog... Look into fostering a rescue dog through breed-specific recue groups in your area. This way you get a doggy presence and something to shift your focus without it being permanent.
posted by smalls at 5:36 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Trial runs are always a good idea.

Instead of thinking about what this dog will do for you, think about what you will bring to this dog. You are providing the dog a home and companionship. You are going to be making a huge difference in the life of another living being and this other being needs your (or someone's) help.

If only we helped our fellow humans as much as we help these furry "strangers" the world might be a much better place.
posted by dgeiser13 at 5:57 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Two things: calling animals you may be about to adopt "used" is in very poor taste; don't look at this new dog as being a replacement for the one you lost. I think you should wait and give yourself some more time to grieve.
posted by Hello Darling at 7:02 AM on July 31, 2012

I just had a look at some of the photos of you and your wife with your dog, and anyone can see the love you had for him shining out of your eyes.

The best advice I've heard on this subject is "You'll know you're ready for a new dog when you stop thinking 'I want my dog back" and start thinking 'I want another dog.'"
posted by HotToddy at 7:16 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

"You'll know you're ready for a new dog when you stop thinking 'I want my dog back" and start thinking 'I want another dog.'"

I would modify that first part, as odds are probably good that you'll never stop wanting Snip back. Over two years on I still miss my first dog tremendously, to the point of tears at times - I still want my Bandit back. That's an ache that won't ever go away. BUT, she was such an amazing dog that being dog-less was painful; like easily confused said, having a great dog makes it hard to be without one.

So don't wait until you stop thinking you want your dog back; you'll know you're ready when you CAN'T stop thinking, "Wow, being dog-less sucks!" Only a few weeks after I lost Bandit, I had to start making regular visits to our local shelter just to get in some doggy time - because it sucks to not have a wagging beast in your life. On one of those shelter visits just three months after my dog had died, my partner and I found a dog we knew had to be part of our family; that was two years ago and I have been so very happy every single day that we got our Mozilla when we did (she's sitting here next to me as I type this ... even being at your computer is better when you have doggy company!).

As others have said, adopting a new dog so soon isn't disrespectful - anybody who has ever had a great dog (or cat, or rabbit, etc) will understand that it speaks to how much you loved Snip.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:43 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

(and to the 'used dog' phrasing being in poor taste, I have no doubt you were being facetious there. We call our shelter dog a 'scratch and dent' model but she doesn't seem to take it personally. And of course nobody could ever replace your buddy - but that's not the point, is it? A completely different dog will occupy a completely different space in your heart, but one that is no less wonderful than the space Snip has that won't ever belong to anybody but him.)
posted by DingoMutt at 7:56 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would modify that first part, as odds are probably good that you'll never stop wanting Snip back.

Yes, of course you'll never stop wanting him back! I actually interpret the advice to be more like "When you stop thinking 'I don't want another dog, I want Snip!" and start thinking "I'll always want Snip back but maybe I could love another dog too." And I fully agree that loving another dog is the best way to honor Snip's memory.
posted by HotToddy at 8:18 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are not replacing the dog that passed on. You are opening your home and life to a new friend. The new dog won't behave like the old dog. It will have different quirks and habits. The situation will be new for both of you and it may take more adjusting than you realize. Good luck!
posted by cass at 8:19 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

When my husband and I lost our second beloved dog to cancer, we decided to take a little break and just love on our kitty who was also missing her big buddy. But, as the months passed we came to realize that we are and will always be "pet" people, always phrasing memories in a time frame of "that was when we had female dog--that was when we had male dog--or was that female dog?" Our lives and best memories are intertwined with our pets.

Both of our dogs' ashes are on my bureau, and when the time comes I hope that somebody will see to it that those ashes are scattered with ours. I know that it is probably fantasy to think someone would actually do that, but for now, that's where I'm at.

Both of our dogs were Rottweilers; very intelligent dogs, but also very headstrong. With patient training, they both learned to guard (not eat!) our other pets (cats, rats & chickens).

There a just too many good pets who need good people. We adopted an eight year old shelter pup last August and just last week she found the confidence to actually bark a warning when a car came in the driveway (wagging her tail the whole time!) She's nothing like our previous gems, but she is an unbelievable treasure. And kitty loves her, too!

Allow yourself be that good person for Shelby (or maybe a different dog) you will find a new love and will be loved for it!
posted by blista at 10:37 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some really great and helpful responses so far. I think I favourited most of them. I do miss having a dog around, a LOT. As DingoMutt mentioned, just having that presence lying on the mattress beside my computer chair and farting while I'm trying to work is priceless.

"When you stop thinking 'I don't want another dog, I want Snip!" and start thinking "I'll always want Snip back but maybe I could love another dog too." This was worded perfectly and I think is very close to how I'm feeling.

So, after reading all these great stories and comments and sleeping on it overnight I am pretty confident that I can go and meet this dog and if we click, I don't have to feel guilty about it. Please do keep responses coming, especially now to my other questions. I'm particularly fixating right this instant on the logistics of the vet check (provided the meet goes well). It feels like it might be awkward simply because of the distances involved. We wouldn't be able to take her home for good/trial until after this weekend. So, as I mentioned in the OP I could just have them arrange a checkup with their vet of choice that I show up to and either take the dog home or not. Alternatively, at ten months old I would imagine that she was JUST in a few months ago to be spayed. Part of me is tempted to just phone up the vet in question and ask if there's anything I should be aware of. It would save some time and $60, plus part of me feels that a half hour cursory examination might not really reveal anything meaningful outside of skin conditions, ear infections, etc. The really serious stuff that would prevent us from adopting would need a much more thorough examination and bloodwork to reveal wouldn't it? Thoughts on this?

Another potential sticky point is going to be the trial; again because of the distances involved. It'd be nice if they could bring her over for an afternoon, and then a day or two, etc. But at a 2 hour one way drive that likely won't happen. That leaves me with trying to talk them into a 1 week trial without giving them all or part of the money (as incentive to honour the terms of the trial). From their perspective though, I can see that giving the dog away to someone from another town without full payment is going to be problematic. After all, I'm an internet stranger too so what's to stop me from taking the dog and running.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 11:41 AM on July 31, 2012

What would Snip want for you? He knows he was well-loved, and he knows you will mourn, but I'd put money on the fact he would not want to see you continue to miss the companionship of the kind he shared with you. By adopting a dog, you will only be honoring Snip and the love you knew together. There's no replacing our companions when they pass, but opening your heart to a new companion is a good path. The pup you're planning to meet looks like a very sweet dog, and I for one will hope she suits you and that you find you can take the time to really get to know her.

Snip would want to see you happy, and a new dog happy with you, too. It would likely be his bequest had he been able to make one.
posted by vers at 2:46 PM on July 31, 2012

Remember that a shelter dog will be frightened and may not seem very affectionate or bond quickly. It took a few months for each of our three rescue dogs to feel close - each one took a while to trust us and to seek out our company.
After we lost our first dog, I was devastated and also not sure if I wanted another dog. Eventually, it was just the lack of that quiet (and yes, farty) shadow that prompted me to look for another. When we first adopted her, she was *so* scared. She would not leave the front porch - even in our fenced yard - for weeks. She was frenetic and would chew, howl, and hide. There were times in the first few weeks when I really thought we had made a mistake (like when she left a perfect half-circle, complete with tooth-marks, chewed out of the wooden futon frame). The only thing that made me hesitate was that - even scared and frightened - she lit up our lives. She cheered us both up so much, after three months without a dog.
Then something "clicked." She bonded with us and stopped freaking when we left the house. She was a little bundle of joy when we got up in the morning and suddenly started listening to training commands. I have never regretted adopting her (she has an adoptive "brother" now who also took a while to bond).

The point of this story is - go with your instinct, but give the dog a chance to acclimatize. She will be scared and may not be at her best for the first few weeks. If she seems to be freaked out or does not interact much, let her settle in. I wouldn't part with our girl for anything - even though we still have that chunk missing from the futon frame ... :-)
posted by Susurration at 6:09 PM on July 31, 2012

Thought I'd follow up after visiting Shelby. After all that excitement and build-up, I don't think she's the one for us. She was very sweet but was only about half the size they told me she was. She also had broken her leg in the past and when I asked what the veterinarian said the long-term outlook on the leg was they got really quiet and mumbled something about knowing someone who was good with animals so I'm guessing their 'friend' set the leg, there was a large calcified lump on it already. Finally, this supposedly house-trained dog was sleeping on the kitchen table when we got there.

My heart truly went out to this girl as she was incredibly smart, incredibly sweet, and very much attached to this family that was unceremoniously trying to get rid of her to the first person that would pony up the dough. They had no interest in what kind of person I was, or what kind of home I could give their pet, just how quickly I would give them money for their dog. They kept telling me how much time this dog took and how difficult she could be to manage with the kids, I asked what kind of things they had tried and this woman just shrugged, lit her 4th cigarette of the hour and said "Husband works shifts, if he can't walk the dog I'm sure as hell not gonna" I am absolutely heartbroken for this dog. I guess that's something I will have to get used to if I'm looking at shelter dogs, or dogs that aren't at the shelter yet but in need of a good home. I know not everybody will have the same standard of care that I have, and I probably wouldn't measure up against some others, but I don't think giving a shit about an animal you supposedly make a lifetime commitment to should be too much to ask.

At the end of the day, she just wasn't for us. The size wasn't really a concrete deal-breaker, the manners could be worked on, but the leg looked to be really poorly set and the joint was hot to the touch. All combined, it just kept us from saying "We need this dog in our lives". As sweet as she was, we just knew she wasn't for us. I feel a little guilty about leaving her to fate, I know someone looking for a small dog will fall in love with her but still... if I was a millionaire and could adopt them all...

So, we'll keep looking. The positive side of this experience is that we got really excited driving up to see her so that really kind of confirms the idea that we're ready to take this plunge again. I think another positive thing, in a slightly twisted sense, is that Shelby was so far away from what we were looking for. I think if the first dog we looked at had been close to what we were after we could've talked ourselves into overlooking a LOT. As it stand, this was a great reminder that we need to try to keep the "Oh my god you're so cute" emotions to a minimum and consider the big picture with every dog.

We may look at puppies too, I like the idea of a young adult dog in that 6-24 month range... but puppies are awesome, just a lot of work!
posted by Beacon Inbound at 11:01 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thought I'd update on the off chance anybody is still following a 20 day old thread. After a lot of looking we finally found not one, but two Border Collie crosses through a rescue operation.

One (Tweed) is a B.Collie/Chesepeake retriever cross; Male ~2 years old and the friendliest goofiest dog you'd ever want to meet. The other (Layla) is a B.Collie/Akita cross; Female ~1 year old and is a shy loving little girl. Both were found as strays in Northern Alberta last winter (Who the F. dumps a dog out in -40 weather...) They are buddies at the rescue and we had been talking a little bit about a second dog to keep the other company so it all just sort of fell into place.

Picking them up tomorrow, can't wait!
posted by Beacon Inbound at 1:56 PM on August 20, 2012

Delighted for you -- but are you ever going to have your hands full with training and exercise. I hope your first days together are going well, and we need pictures!

Two dogs is a really good number. I always wish for more, but two is pretty much my minimum now.
posted by vers at 6:42 PM on August 22, 2012

Here's a Couple! of shots, so far so good but we have to work on NOT wrestling on the couch!
posted by Beacon Inbound at 10:10 PM on August 22, 2012

Awesome level of cute! Wishing you many happy years together!
posted by vers at 12:53 PM on August 23, 2012

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