Cat person needs help considering a puppy
September 25, 2012 8:09 AM   Subscribe

I've been a cat person all my life. I don't like dogs in general--most strike me as bothersome. I've come across the occasional dog I like, but I've never had to care for one longer than four days, at its own house. Now I'm in the unexpected position of considering getting a dog.

I'm in the midst of a divorce, have two exuberant kids under 8yo, will be moving to a neighboring town, and would like a loving companion for them, and someone other than an adult human with whom I can have a rapport of trust, companionship, and dependability. I know I don't have to get a dog. And above all, I don't want to get a token puppy as a happy distraction for the kids, but which I end up resenting as its main caregiver. The part of me that is a mother to two young kids buckles at the thought of much more responsibility. The part of me that wants a dog is surprised and exploring the idea slowly. It's a dog I can love and be committed to, or none at all. After a lot of breed research, I'm considering one that sounds like a good fit for my family's needs, practical considerations, and (especially) my personality. My plan is to meet a couple of litters and adult dogs of the breed over the next year with a local breeder, and continue feeling out the idea and reality of puppy ownership.

Part of this is that I need Dogs 101- How do I get up to speed on basics like training, where I can and can't bring dogs, how much ownership really costs, the time commitment, what to do if we're traveling, etc. That is, what sort of lifestyle changes and demands will any dog bring with it? I want a good picture of that and don't know how to get it. Things seem so particular to breed that I'm not sure what I can assume about general dog ownership.

But the rest of it is how to figure out if I'm daydreaming about being able to get over the hump of caring for another creature. I considered offering to take care of some friends' dogs, but I already know I don't care about those dogs. I'm skeptical of my motivations. This divorce has shaken my belief in basic human decency. If I go all out on this dog and it's a creature that doesn't care for me back, it may knock the stuffing out of me all over again. Am I setting this dog up for failure? How can I test that?
posted by Yoshimi Battles to Pets & Animals (55 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You sound like a good candidate for a more mature dog, rather than a puppy. Get a crossbreed or mutt, see which ones at the shelter or wherever take to you quickly.
posted by MangyCarface at 8:18 AM on September 25, 2012 [10 favorites]

I think that you need to think long and hard on whether you really, REALLY, want a dog. This is a HUGE responsibility, because we are talking about a living creature. They are a LOT of work!

If, after thinking long and hard on this, you still decide that you want to get a dog, can I please strongly suggest that you rescue an adult dog from a shelter?

If you have never had dogs before you are going to be overwhelmed by the needs of a puppy. They need CONSTANT attention in the first couple of years! Most adult dogs up for adoption will already be house-broken, probably up to date on their shots, neutered or spade, and quite possibly know a lot of commands.

And believe me, these little guys know that they are being rescued! We adopted our "Teddy" four years ago, and he is the sweetest, most loving dog you can imagine!

Good luck in however this turns out...
posted by Hanuman1960 at 8:19 AM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

My plan is to meet a couple of litters and adult dogs of the breed over the next year with a local breeder, and continue feeling out the idea and reality of puppy ownership.

I am a HUGE dog person, and I just have to tell you that puppies can sometimes do your head in. They are a black hole of need, albeit cute, fluffy need.

So, my suggestion is to visit a few shelters and see if they have any mellow adult dogs for you to adopt. Not only will you be giving a dog the home it needs and deserves, but you will get one with its personality fully-formed, so to speak; and you won't have to deal with the demanding 24/7 nature of a puppy. Adult dogs are just as capable of being loving companions to adults and children if not more. There is no need to limit your search for an animal "to love and be committed to" to puppies only. Horrible grammar but you see what I am getting at I hope.

You have come to the right place for advice though, because I've had my own dog-related queries in the past and AskMeFi is full of people who have really good advice about dog ownership. I applaud you for giving yourself a year to feel it out. A dog is for life and the surer you are that you really want a dog, the better.
posted by Ziggy500 at 8:19 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding the idea of getting an adult dog. It sounds like you don't need another adorable headache at this point, but rather a point of stability & love for you and the kids.
posted by Aquaman at 8:22 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

No offense intended but a dog needs a lot of love to be happy and thrive. I don't feel it coming from you. I wouldn't want to be your dog as you are expecting too much (to satisfy all your and your families needs) and I think the results would be disasterous for him or her.

My dog is sweet, adorable and wonderful but sometimes he pees where he shouldn't, poops there, too. Barks like a maniac, snapped at my best friend, has to be groomed every month (75.00,) sheds all over the place, rips furniture apart, etc. He's a lot of work but I love him warts and all.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 8:23 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Any particular reason you're getting a puppy over a mature dog? I'm not asking because I'm an animal rescue fanatic (though I support the method), but if you want a companion for your kids, not a project for yourself in a tough time, then get a mature dog that has experience being around kids, and one with an energy level compatible with your life. Some of them are already trained, though you'll still need to lay down the rules in your house, as far as dog penning, kennel, walking, and feeding, for everyone: dog, kids, and you.

Adult dogs, once they're part of your pack, can handle your routine, can take additional training for behavior fixing.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:27 AM on September 25, 2012

If you are a cat person, and your kids want a loving companion, why not get loving, indoor cats? My mother was emphatically not a dog person, I grew up in a house seemingly full of loving, playful cats, and I turned out fine. Now I have a (sort of cat-like) dog and I don't really see how they foster more responsibility than cats.
posted by muddgirl at 8:27 AM on September 25, 2012 [8 favorites]

If you are already a cat person and not a dog person, why are you not considering a cat as a family pet?
posted by elizardbits at 8:29 AM on September 25, 2012 [12 favorites]

I'm not sure where you're located but I'd really recommend skipping breeders and going to your local humane society and looking at some dogs over 1.

2 reasons. First its really hard to understand future temperament of puppies. Mature dogs are more settled in and your local SPCA staff will usually have a pretty good understanding of the dogs you look at's personalities. They can help push you to a dog which will fit both your kids and your lifestyle. (Also a good chunk of these dogs are already housebroken, bonus!)

Second many SPCA's actually provide classes as part of your adoption package which will provide some free basic training.

w/r/t cost, we feed our dogs with Costco (Kirkland brand) food, we get a 40lb bag for ~$25 bucks its actually good food and should last about 5 or 6 weeks. Its about half the price of other store bought foods and is pretty good quality to boot. Then there's toys, leashes etc. This is pretty inexpensive, maybe about $100 a year or so.

The biggest X-factors for cost is for trainings/walking/boarding. Training is up to you but if you are willing to put in the time yourself, frankly books and dvd's are almost as good as classes and pretty cheap. Boarding in SF usually costs between $40 and $60 per night so your vacations get a bit more expensive (you can always have a friend or neighbor help out too). Unfortunately my wife and I are kind of busy so we pay to have someone walk our dogs its about $17 a walk, this is a pretty hefty expense, but if you have time for morning and evening walks its not one you need to make. Also dog choice comes in here, there a lot of breeds who don't need to be as active as the dogs we have (we have a lab and a border collie mutt, they're both high energy dogs and need to get out every day)

Hope this helps.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:31 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh my SPCA adoptions cost me about $250 each.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:32 AM on September 25, 2012

Seconding checking into an adult or senior dog when you are ready. My little rescue dog passed away just a few weeks ago, but caring for her and bonding with her made a positive impact on me. She was toothless, deaf, a tiny bit senile, and very nearly blind, but despite all that, she was a happy little walker, a voracious eater, and a first class cuddler. Seeing the positive, loving reactions people had to this sweet creature helped me remember that people are kind, in general. I wasn't 100% sure about a dog at first, but she won me over.
posted by mochapickle at 8:34 AM on September 25, 2012

I'd like to echo elizardbits here. I am so totally NOT a cat person, but if you know you already like cats, get a cat! There's a lot of MeFi talk about Maine Coons being tremendously awesome and more "dog-like" kitties whenever the subject comes up. Don't nix a cat just because you think you'll get more love from a dog.

That said, if you do get a dog, you should either get an adult shelter dog or a puppy from a very good breeder (and it sounds like you're ready to do the research). I'm a first-time dog owner, and I'm really, really glad I got a purebred pup from a top-rate breeder. A lot more of the "unknowns" of having a puppy were expected based on my breeder's experience of the breed, and I was a lot more prepared for my particular puppy's needs than friends of mine who have gotten shelter puppies.

Not that there's anything wrong with a shelter pup, of course--I just would caution against it for a first-time dog owner.

But don't pooh-pooh a cat just yet. Do some research on cat breeds and see if you might find a companion more in line with your personality.
posted by phunniemee at 8:36 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should have clarified about cats. We have cats already that will be staying at their dad's house. We all love and care for those cats, so getting other cats seems...not right.

Any particular reason you're getting a puppy over a mature dog?
I guess because I thought bringing up a puppy would be more enjoyable and result in better fit with our family and training, rather than getting an adult set in its ways whom we hadn't "grown up with." Maybe that's a misconception I have?

sometimes he pees where he shouldn't, poops there, too. Barks like a maniac, snapped at my best friend, has to be groomed every month (75.00,) sheds all over the place, rips furniture apart,
This is part of what I need to know about dogs in general, but also why I'm considering the timing and breed I am. My goal would be that both my kids would be "self-sufficient" (i.e., out of strollers, diapers, able to dress themselves, walk themselves the distances we do, able to contribute to caring for the dog--my 7yo is there already). But I agree, I'm looking at a breed that isn't barky, isn't snappy, has regular but not overwhelming grooming, has exercise needs that fit with our lifestyle, sheds little (though I'm used to that with the cats). I know some peeing and pooping will come with the territory of a puppy, but will a well-trained dog also pee and poop wherever (barring illness)?
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 8:43 AM on September 25, 2012

Honey, just get another cat. It's not disloyal to the original kitties. You have enough on your plate as it is.

You already probably know cats have differing personalities. My parents have a cat that is absolutely doglike in its adoration of my father in particular. Not aloof whatsoever. That's what you want. I have also heard a lot about Maine Coons being good in this regard.

I am also not a dog person, and putting myself in your shoes a bit, wondering if you are also looking for a dog for home security purposes, i.e. barks when a stranger comes in the yard? If that is part of what you are looking for, that does change the question a bit but if yourself a favor and get a cat.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:49 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, and I've been looking at my state's SPCA shelters over the last six months. 95% of the dogs are pit bulls, which is a breed I really don't want to take on.
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 8:49 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you've done good research on a breed that will fit your needs, and you may well find one very similar at the shelter. But the breed you've chosen likely has a rescue group near your area, and as an added bonus they often have a better idea about a specific animal's temperament. (Any reason you're not telling us what breed? I know some folks have strong opinions on this topic so maybe you just don't want to get into it!)

I suspect you will grow to love the dog, and the kids as well. But a neglected dog will quickly begin to display a host of behavioral problems. I suggest finding a dog walker before you even get the dog. Someone to take the dog out for a nice long walk once a day. This may give you a little piece of mind, because the dog will get some stimulation and a break from the house, and you will get a break from the dog. Hopefully you will learn to enjoy walking the dog and won't have to keep the dog walker after a while.

But don't get a puppy. It's a much larger time commitment, and will cause much more aggravation! Find a dog that's already trained for your first dog! And it can still be a younger adult and you will still be its "real" family. Yes, you will need to do some training so the dog knows what you expect. You should be able to easily find a 6 or 8 week training class in your area, which will be good for both you and the dog. One or both of your kids may enjoy it as well.

Provided the dog has not experienced serious trauma (and sometimes even if it has) it will love you. It may take a little time. Will you have the patience for it?

but will a well-trained dog also pee and poop wherever (barring illness)?
Rarely if at all, but accidents happen.
posted by Glinn at 8:53 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My kids desperately wanted a puppy. I did not. If I wanted to care for another infant, I thought, I'll just have another baby; oh, and by the way, I do NOT want to care for another infant. I agreed to look for an young dog rather than a puppy.

So we started looking at rescue groups, the ones who foster dogs in their homes before adopting them out. The fosterers know these dogs inside and out. They know if they're housebroken, they know how they are with kids, they know if they can be around other animals. The rescue group we eventually settled on actually "pulls" their animals from the local shelters. So there's an additional layer of security, if you will.

When we found our dog, his fosterer told us he was about 2 years old, housebroken, crate trained, and had been living with cats for the last few months without problems. We've had him for almost a year now and he has never, not once, had an accident in the house. He LOVES his crate (his "house"). He is best friends with our youngest cat and has never, ever bothered the others.

I cannot recommend rescue groups enough. You can find breed-specific groups, groups that deal with mostly mutts (which ours did), etc. If you tell us what state you're in, we might be able to help you find a good local group.

I will say this: with what you've told us, I would actively steer you away from getting a puppy. They're awesome and cute and wonderful but you're going to be a single mom. The last thing you need right now is a baby.
posted by cooker girl at 8:58 AM on September 25, 2012 [11 favorites]

I ended up with a rescue Pom this year due to my daughter's pleas. He was going to a kill shelter and she was worried he would be euthanized because of a history of barking, peeing on clothes,etc... I did not consider myself a dog person, even though I grew up with them. He has been absolutely wonderful, only two "accidents", one at my house and ,eek, one at a friends. I love him to bits BUT he is a huge responsibility per pound. I cannot just leave the house without him for more than 5 hours, overnight time requires often paying a friend to house/dog sit, good dog food is not cheap on my tight budget, vets are not cheap,etc...

Think hard about this. You are taking on the responsibility of a creature who will basically adore you, but in return you have all of the responsibility of his/her life. It truly is not that different than deciding to have another child.

I think that your divorce is going to be a huge change on its own, in fact I know from experience it will, and that you might want to work through that first before adding on a dog. Why not wait a year or two and then see if you still have this feeling of dog need?
Oh- and as far as dog-like cat breeds-I vote for Manx.
posted by Isadorady at 9:00 AM on September 25, 2012

Hi. I am a person who got their first dog at age 26 and never considered myself a major "dog person". I had cats growing up. Now I love our dog, so I think "cat people" and "dog people" are often overblown categories.

The biggest change for me was the necessary planning. Don't get me wrong, you get used to it, and since you have kids it's not like you can drop everything anyway. But even an overnight trip requires planning for the dog. Holiday trips require (for us) deciding if we should drive and bring the dog (and impose her on our hosts) or fly and board our dog. Someone needs to let your dog pee every 6 hours at least. They need a walk every day, and more than just around the block. Etc. When you do training, you should be prepared to spend at least 15 minutes a day "practicing" so they really get it. With kids, you also need to make sure your kids practice with the dog and that you all use the same commands and rules. If one person lets the dog on the couch, don't blame the dog when she's confused about whether or not that's OK.

I'm sure you will get tons of people advising you to look at shelter dogs, but I'll add to that anyway. And yes, look at a teenager or young adult... they will be calmer and you'll get a better feel for their personality. And still very trainable. We got our dog when she was between 6 months to a year. You would never know we hadn't raised her since birth - that dog is inseparable from us (even if my fiancee is home and I'm not, she mopes until we're ALL home together).

How much ownership really costs? Well, we probably pay about $50 a month for good food and treats. Depending on how many trips you take, it'll be $30 a day on the low end to board your dog. A training class at Petsmart is about $100 for a 6 week session. We did all 3 levels and it was well worth the money. Yearly shots I think are about $150 for us. A puppy will need a lot of startup money for vaccines and spay/neuter (another advantage of shelter dogs is that they usually do this for much cheaper than a vet). Our dog cost $150 to adopt and that included all her shots and spaying. We probably spend about $20 a month on toys for her, but she's spoiled.

Where you can bring your dog will depend on the dog. Our dog loves to be in the car, so that even for short errands we'll bring her just because. We bring ours to the farmers market, outside festivals, picnics etc. but some dogs would be nervous in a crowd. You really just figure it out as you go, and keep trying to expose your dog to new people and situations.

The biggest piece of advice I would give you is to be realistic about your energy level. I love that our dog is OK if we very occasionally don't have time to walk her. Some dogs would destroy your house if they don't get 2 hours of exercise every day.

I'm trying to remember what I was nervous about when we first got our dog. I was worried she would like my fiancee more than me (nope, she loves us both). I was nervous about training her to pee outside (we had a few accidents, but she got it within a week - and it was easier than I thought it'd be).

Oh, and in my experience, breed matters way less than individual personality. You really can't guarantee just by breed that a dog won't bark or snap. At our shelter you could volunteer to take dogs out to the park area or walk them. This was also excellent to see how they reacted to other people and dogs.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:00 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

It doesn't sound like a puppy is what you want. When people say they require a lot of attention, it's not just that they'll be unhappy if they don't get it, but also that they'll develop bad habits. Dogs find ways to amuse themselves, and unless their energy is regularly directed in constructive ways, they'll get destructive. Then you'll get upset that they are doing something instinctual, and they'll develop neuroses on top of the bad habits. I had a roommate with a somewhat neglected, very poorly-trained and incredibly neurotic dog for a period of time. I assure you, that is not a life you want.

I know some peeing and pooping will come with the territory of a puppy, but will a well-trained dog also pee and poop wherever (barring illness)?

It can happen, but it shouldn't happen regularly enough for it to be a problem. Our dog was adopted a little over a year ago (she was two) and she has gone in the house maybe six times, two of which were within a week of her adoption, and once when she got into some batter in the middle of the night.
posted by griphus at 9:02 AM on September 25, 2012

Oh and she pooped in the bank once, but we learned our lesson with that one: if she hasn't gone in a bit, we now wait until she poops before taking her to indoor places that aren't our home.
posted by griphus at 9:04 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I've been looking at my state's SPCA shelters over the last six months. 95% of the dogs are pit bulls, which is a breed I really don't want to take on.

A lot of dogs get moved out of major shelters to breed-specific rescues and foster homes. The ones that remain in the main shelters tend to be the ones that are largely unadoptable -- huge black dogs, pit bulls, etc.

You said you have a breed in mind, so look for the breed specific rescue groups for that breed. They are likely to have taken in any of your breed that showed up in a shelter.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:06 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love my husband's dog a great deal and I'd had dogs before I met him but I was mostly, and still am, a cat person.

Dogs are needy. Dogs cannot be left alone for extended periods of time. Dogs cannot take themselves to the bathroom. Dogs do not care if it's raining and cold and you have a fever, they still need to go outside and wander around to find the perfect poop spot.

To me, cats are far, far more easy and my cat is as affectionate as our dog and provides as much love and attention as the dog. However, cats typically don't go camping with you or go on long walks through the park. And as much as my husband loves my cat, he's a dog person. So we'll always be a family of four, with a cat and dog each. But honestly, dogs are a massive amount of work in training and daily care and a poorly trained, unhappy dog is waaaaaay more destructive than a poorly trained unhappy cat.

95% of the dogs are pit bulls, which is a breed I really don't want to take on.
This is really common, and but not always the whole truth. A lot of folks are scared of the idea of pits and humane societys either over identify a dog as a pit mix or under indentify depending on their level of concern. My husband's dog was called a border collie/lab mix in Tennessee. But in St. Louis, the vets considered her a pit bull mix. She's probably all of those things, but I have found some regions are quicker to call a dog a pit than others.
posted by teleri025 at 9:14 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

As a cat person who ended up only marginally having to care for the dog of a slacker boyfriend I was living with, dogs are so much more work than cats. I resented the amount of time I had to take to walk, corral, chase, groom, clean up after and otherwise interact with an energetic dog that was not trained at all because, well, see above re: slacker. The bulk of the dog care will fall on you. I would not have a dog again. I grew up with lots of cats of varying dispositions. Even the neediest cat is not as much work as a dog.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:17 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dogs cannot take themselves to the bathroom. Dogs do not care if it's raining and cold and you have a fever, they still need to go outside and wander around to find the perfect poop spot.

If you do end up getting a puppy (and if it is a small breed), litter train him. There are how-tos all over google. It has made my puppy-having life SO easy.
posted by phunniemee at 9:17 AM on September 25, 2012

I'm also a cat person and the only dog I have grown to love as an adult is a pit/boxer mix. She is sweet, intelligent, loves to play but also to lie in your lap. The only way she's ever hurt me is by wagging her giant tail too hard. She LOOKS terrifying, though. That's why a rescue could be better for you - breed can only tell you so much about what a puppy's personality will be when he or she is an adult.

I'm worried you're putting a little too much pressure on this potential dog - you want a lot of things from a dog but you don't seem to want to do much FOR the dog. Especially with a puppy, there is no way you aren't going to be this animal's main caregiver, considering how young your children are. Could you try fostering a calm, older dog to see how it goes before adopting, to see if it's really what you want? That could be rough on the kids, but not as rough as bringing a dog home to stay and then changing your mind later.
posted by chaiminda at 9:20 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding a dog that's been fostered. We got our last two via this route, and it was super helpful to have a detailed insights into their personalities. You're also less likely to end up saddled with a dog that isn't a good fit for your family -- rescues don't want a failed placement any more than you do.

Just make sure your kids take it out for regular walkies! An exercised dog is a good dog.
posted by bunji at 9:20 AM on September 25, 2012

What about fostering a dog? That will give you the opportunity to see what living with a dog will be like without a life long commitment.

And don't be worried about an older dog being set in his ways. The best thing about older dogs as you can an idea of a personality where is a puppy is a complete crap shoot.

Plus puppies, dear God, the poop, the piddle, the chewing, the whining... They only get away with it because they're so gosh darn cute. But they are pure evil.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:24 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Nthing shelter dog. Nthing older dog. It doesn't have to be an "old" dog, just go with a 2-3 year old dog, they are still very young at heart and you will still have 10-15 years with them and feel like your family grew up with them, and it will be SO much easier on you, trust me. I feel very strongly that you would regret getting a puppy. I love dogs very very much and I always have, and I did not enjoy having a puppy and I regretted getting one.

I really don't think that you need to worry about the dog "not caring about you back". That's a cat problem. Dogs can't help themselves, the majority of them love their people (depending on the breed they may not love ALL people but they at least care for their main caregiver and usually their family). It's just the way they are. The dog may even love you more than you love it, I'd be more concerned about that problem based on what you've said in the question. If you meet a dog who is not a puppy you will know whether they are a loving dog, and loving you is -almost- a guarantee. Which is one of the reasons why us dog lovers love dogs.

I can understand your hesitation about bully breeds (I suspect few of the shelter dogs are actually "pit bulls" but people refer to numerous different "bully breeds" as "pit bulls" - try taking this quiz and you'll see!) However please consider the suggestions about breed-specific rescue groups. And if you're really in NY state, I bet we could recommend shelters where you would find other types of dogs, too. The right dog is worth waiting for and worth searching for!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:27 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

My mother the cat person decided that maybe she'd be okay with a dog. And -- well, she loves the dog, but she often resents him. She can't just go on vacation, she has to figure out where to leave the dog instead of pouring out extra cat food for a weekend, or having a neighbour come in every other day for longer. They have to pay someone to walk him at lunch time on weekdays. He eats everything in sight. They've spent a fortune on training him. He farts constantly. (It's gross. He's over a hundred pounds! That's a lot of fart.) It's just a lot of work and thought and energy and, yes, he loves them, but no, she will never live with another dog.

You sound like you feel you should want a dog, not like you actually do want a dog. If you do get a dog, don't get a puppy. Puppies are adorable agents of complete destruction, making kittens look like they've never done anything bad in their lives.

Your other cats aren't going to be jealous if you get a cat as well.
posted by jeather at 9:27 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

By the way, the needs of a dog are somewhat breed specific - why not share with us the breed you want so we could tell you more about what to expect?
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:30 AM on September 25, 2012

If you don't like dogs in general, are you sure that a dog will provide the rapport and companionship you're looking for? Many people find dogs to be great companions, but this is highly subjective.

I like dogs a lot, but I tend to like big dogs. I find that being around a small dog generally does nothing for me, it just doesn't have the same enjoyable feel of companionship for whatever reason. Same with many cats (depending on personality.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:33 AM on September 25, 2012

I'd look at some rescue groups not fosters, I am willing to bet money that the breed you like has it's own specific rescue somewhere. Most rescue dogs are in foster situations in that they are kept in private homes with families so the groups have a really good idea of temperament. Also a lot of rescues will let you try out a dog to make sure it fits in with your family.

Dogs can learn to fit in with pretty much any family, the saying you can't teach an old dogs new tricks is completely wrong. Also if you get a dog that's around a year or 2 old they still have a lot of that puppy energy and silliness but can be left alone and are less work in general.

Having said that if you want a dog but love cats get a Siamese cat. I was lucky enough to own an oriental cat and it acted more like a dog than my dog at the time did. He would fetch, follow me on walks, talk to me, greet me at the door and mostly obey basic commands.

I am willing to bet that most of those "pitbulls" are anything but, pitbulls are one of the most misidentified dogs out there.
posted by wwax at 9:34 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

In another dog question I said that the difference between owning a cat and owning a dog is like the difference between your friend having a baby (oh, how cute!) and you personally having a baby (oh my god, my entire life has changed). You literally -- LITERALLY -- have to plan every day around the dog. Who will walk him in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening. What you will do if you get stuck somewhere with a flat tire and can't get home at your usual time. It's a huge commitment. A cat, as you know -- you scoop their litter box and feed them and if necessary you can not give them another thought for 48 hours. (That's not what I do with my cat -- I scoop her box every morning and feed her breakfast, lunch and dinner -- I'm just saying it's possible.)

Being in the midst of a divorce is a terrible time to make big decisions. I think a dog qualifies as a big decision. Would you consider revisiting the idea in a year?
posted by kate blank at 9:39 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Part of this is that I need Dogs 101- How do I get up to speed on basics like training, where I can and can't bring dogs, how much ownership really costs, the time commitment, what to do if we're traveling, etc. That is, what sort of lifestyle changes and demands will any dog bring with it? I want a good picture of that and don't know how to get it. Things seem so particular to breed that I'm not sure what I can assume about general dog ownership.

I'm taking your concerns in order here:

Re training, I recommend positive reinforcement, meaning Karen Pryor, her excellent book Don't Shoot the Dog, and the many great you tube videos showing training with postive reinforcement.

Re where you take dogs -- you can take a well behaved dog anywhere dogs are allowed (though some dogs have sensitive tummies and get carsick, like some people.) You really don't want to ever fly a dog, and travel needs to be to dog friendly locations or your dog needs to stay at home, ideally with a pet sitter.

Ownership of dogs is a good deal less than the cost to raise kids, but not cheap. The biggest unexpected expense is veterinary care, which is not optional for a dog owner. Pet insurance can help, but most of what is out there is very expensive and covers very little. I figure my dog costs me $2000-$3000 per year including pet sitting, food, vet bills. He is more than worth it.

On the general effect on your life: it is big. Owning a dog is like having a child. I think it is worth it, but it will definitely affect your life. For example, my husband and I always figure out how long an evening out will take us from our dog: if we're out until late, we have our pet walker/sitter drop by to feed and play with our cats and our dog.

In terms of breed, see below.

But the rest of it is how to figure out if I'm daydreaming about being able to get over the hump of caring for another creature. I considered offering to take care of some friends' dogs, but I already know I don't care about those dogs. I'm skeptical of my motivations. This divorce has shaken my belief in basic human decency. If I go all out on this dog and it's a creature that doesn't care for me back, it may knock the stuffing out of me all over again. Am I setting this dog up for failure? How can I test that?

Here you are worrying about the wrong thing. Your dog will love you. I guarantee it. Dogs are built for love and companionship. Only truly ruined dogs -- dogs tormented by people into becoming aggressive or terrified -- are less than full companions. DOG decency trumps human decency by about a zillion percent.

The thing you need is a connection you feel with your dog. And the way to get that is to go to the pound. Go and look. Pay attention to the way you and the dogs interact when you see each other. You will find the dog for you, assuming you look with your heart. I strongly nth everyone that has told you an adult dog -- a mutt -- is what you want. Spend some time with the dog you think is the one. Read the pound's info on the dog, and ask questions. Then you'll know.

The only bad thing about dogs is that they die. This is soul crushing. But you get so much more than you give from them. They are a gift to us flawed humans.

Good luck with this. I think your heart is taking you in the right direction. Please memail or ask more questions as you need to know more.
posted by bearwife at 9:46 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am a very pro-dog person so my first reaction is to say "Get one get one get one!" They bring me so much joy and comfort - and I can say that even in the midst of caring for a very sick dog right now who might not make it. I am so glad I have dogs. They are so worth it.

But - they ARE a lot of work. Not on a daily basis (though they are) as much as in terms of the planning of your life. Going on vacations is much more difficult. Do you board the dog and risk depression, illness, or poor care? Do you leave him at home with a petsitter who stops by and let him be alone for most of the day? Do you bring him with you? Can you find a dog-friendly hotel? You can't leave him in the room, then what do you do with him? Will you need to live in a rental ever again? Does your area have many dog-friendly rentals?

And I also agree that you are very stressed and going through trauma right now, so I'd give it a few more months of thought. It sounds like you are planning to do this already, which is great.

My wife is a petsitter so I get to meet a ton of dogs. Based on what you describe as your ideal, I'd suggest looking into shelters or rescue groups for a 2-4 year old yellow lab or mix. They will be youthful, but calmer. Don't get a puppy, it's too much for you to handle right now. They are just so energetic and needy. They keep you up at night and destroy things. Puppies have their perks, but I don't think you should take one on right now. The first dog is hardest because you don't know what you're doing, as you said. So I'd also suggest going to a training class, where you can make sure you are "doing it right."

There are two different yellow labs I met through my wife's clients that are just the sweetest, calmest, most well-behaved dogs ever. They respond immediately to commands, don't bark much, and sleep at your feet a lot. They DO shed, so you should get a Furminator, but they don't need to be taken to the groomers often. I know some labs tend to eat toys and other inedibles though, so be aware of that. They do need walks, but aren't high mental energy like some working dogs.

All that being said, there are so many great mutts out there, and if you find one that seems calm and loving at the rescue, they will probably be that same way at home. Nthing the suggestion to go through a smaller rescue agency where they will know the dogs' personalities.

Most of all, good luck, and I hope you find much happiness.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 10:32 AM on September 25, 2012

If I go all out on this dog and it's a creature that doesn't care for me back

Stop right there. Lots of people before me have said really helpful and practical things about dog ownership. Know this one thing about dogs: if you take care of it properly (as others have provided lots of helpful insight), there will not be another living thing more grateful to have you as its owner than a dog. Dogs are loyal. It's why there are dog people. Your dog, should you choose to get one, young or old, will not resent you for anything, unless you give it a reason (I don't need to make a list of reasons here; you don't strike me as someone who is looking to actively harm a dog, just has not ever cared for dogs).

I don't need to out myself as a dog person because it's pretty obvious how I feel on the matter. Just know that when you have a dog, the dog will love you as hard as it can for the 12-15 years you'll have it, and then sadly, it will pass. It's awful. But even in its final moments, the dog will be happy and glad that you are there to see him on his way to the great hereafter.

It's good of you to question this because dogs are a big deal. They are easy if you love them, and you sound like your heart is in the right place. Good luck!
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 10:34 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

One thing nobody has mentioned, oddly, is the absolute necessity of picking up and disposing of the poops that result from each walk. Sometimes this means carrying a plastic bag full of poop with you for a while until you find a trash can. Are you OK with that?
posted by scratch at 10:51 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

We got our two exceptionally lovely dogs off craigslist, from families who could no longer keep them due to allergies and housing situations. I don't know if we totally lucked out or what, but they were housebroken when we got them and have been a complete joy to have. We paid a rehoming fee for one (typical) and nothing for the other. They're both "designer mutts" the families paid a lot for.

We plan to se the same method when we get another dog (the shelter is extremely slow moving here...the dogs are too big for our situation or the smaller ones are snapped up in a jiffy.)
posted by The ____ of Justice at 11:14 AM on September 25, 2012

Just to nth all of the "the dog will love you" stuff: dog breeding is the single longest scientific experiment in human history. For some ten thousand years, we have been breeding dogs to do exactly two things: love us and have a job ("look cute" is, in this case, a job.) Dogs have personalities, and some will be cuddlier than others, and some will demand more of your attention than others, but a cared-for dog will love you and be loyal. The whole "we're roommates, except you buy all the food and clean my poop" thing you get with cats doesn't happen with dogs.
posted by griphus at 11:24 AM on September 25, 2012

I don't have a dog but the people I know who've adopted from rescue groups have had great experiences, once you get past their insanely intrusive adopting process. If it turns out that you and your dog are bad fits, they'll first try to work it out (give you tips, training, etc) and if it really just can't work, they'll take the dog back.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:34 AM on September 25, 2012

Best answer: This divorce has shaken my belief in basic human decency. If I go all out on this dog and it's a creature that doesn't care for me back, it may knock the stuffing out of me all over again.

OK. As a fellow divorced person who took a long, long time to stop feeling like a diminished, less-than, beaten-down thing, I'm going to be very frank with you:

First of all: You need therapy more than you need a dog. Please don't get the latter until you've had plenty of the former. I don't mean to sound flippant or harsh, I really don't. I have been where you are, and no creature, human or otherwise, will meet the need that prompted this question.

Second of all: My ex-husband, like yours, kept our cats. I adopted another one from the shelter a few months after I moved out. I completely understand what you mean about feeling a little funny about getting another cat; I still miss my other kitties, ten years later.

But the cat I adopted at the depth of my loneliness and sense of world-altering betrayal is still my cat, living happily in my blended family with my new love and his cat. I love him and can't imagine my life without him, but he didn't restore my faith in Love or heal my own crushed self-esteem or do any of the huge emotional things you're struggling with.

Get another cat if you feel a pet is necessary, and a good therapist, which is essential. Very best of luck to you.
posted by jesourie at 11:47 AM on September 25, 2012 [12 favorites]

I was not a dog person. I was grossed out by my brother's slobbery lab. If a dog tried to lick me, it made me feel sick.

And then one day we decided we wanted a family dog. Different circumstances than yours, but I can relate. We have kids and we wanted them to have the experience of having a dog. I sorta knew that if we go our own dog that I would totally love it. And I do.

We chose a breed that is a lot of work - she needs LOTS of walking and off-leash runs. Be realistic when you research the dog you are choosing. Make sure you're ok with the amount of exercise your pet will need. Can you leave your kids alone when the pet needs to be walked? Can you commit to walking it in the morning and the evening? If you have an active dog, do you have a plan to have someone walk it mid-day?

The good: I love hanging out at the dog park - we get to meet lots of our neighbours who we wouldn't have otherwise known. I love our evening walks when the whole family comes to the park together - it gets us away from the TV. My dog is always excited to see me at the end of the day. No matter what a shitty day I've had, she makes me smile.

The bad/$$$: Our dog is 4 years old. Aside from the yearly checkup and vaccinations (which costs about $200), we've had probably 1 extra visit a year for a health issue. The worst was explosive diarrhea. When I say explosive, I mean explosive. If you plan on going on vacations, you need to have a backup dogsitter. We went to Europe for 3 weeks this summer and shelled out over $700 for private dogsitting since we didn't want to leave her in a Kennel. We took weekly training classes for about a year - regular obedience then agility. It cost about $150 for 12 weeks. While my dog isn't the most obedient in the world, it was a good way to learn how to properly care for my dog (for someone who wasn't dog-inclined to start).

Have fun. I haven't ever regretted gettng our dog. Yes there have been some crazy days and she has shit all over our rug uncontrollably, bitten holes in favourite sweaters... but the love you get from a pet makes you forget the crazy stuff.
posted by caroo at 11:56 AM on September 25, 2012

If you're thinking about costs, it's worth remembering that crossbreeds and mutts are generally more robust than purebreds, which sometimes have breed specific ailments that can get very expensive.

Owning a dog can become very expensive, just like cats, if they get sick, and because they're outside more there are more shots and risks (even if you're walking them only on a lead they can still get into scraps with other dogs, for example). So that's one factor to consider: pet insurance for a dog is a very good idea. I'd also recommend, despite the fact that you're not interested in those dogs, looking after your friends' dogs. It will not only give you an idea of whether you can handle getting up early on horrible days to walk your dog but it will also mean that you may be in the future be able to swap dog minding responsibilities. It is incredibly useful to have someone you can trust that you can call for the inevitable emergencies that arise.

The greatest thing about owning dogs is that nothing - nothing - looks as happy to see you, even if you've only been away for an hour. It's like seeing you is the most amazing thing ever.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:31 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

For sure rescue a dog. Go on line to the Purina website and study the different breeds.

You want an adult, puppies are an obnoxious, adorable, time-suck, just what you DON'T want.

Once you settle on a breed, go to PetFinders and find the breed you want. They have rescue groups on there.

I'll advocate for a Standard Poodle. The dog is inteligent, doesn't shed and they are a total hoot. There seem to be a lot of them in your area.

There are tons of animals looking for a good home. Even if you're not the perfect dog owner yet, you'll be a loving family for an animal who really needs one.

Good luck.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:07 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Owning a dog is a lot of time commitment and work. They can also be very expensive with all the vet checkups, grooming appointments, food, toys and training materials.

Also, I find a lot of people forget that dogs require a lot more than just walks and food. My dog is super affectionate and she gets really sad and down if we are at home and not hanging out with her. She wants to sit with us when we watch TV, she wants to sit by our feet if we do homework and she wants to chill with us if that's what we're doing. She doesn't have a problem when we're away for the day, but she does need a lot of love when we're there. I don't have a problem with it because I love her to bits, but if you don't really like dogs, then you might have a hard time with this.

In addition, I wouldn't worry too much about caring and loving a dog and not having that love and care reciprocated. Dogs are so lovable and caring. If you love and care for your dog, they will do the same right back at you. Even dogs that aren't very well loved and cared for, are still intensely loyal to their owners.

Finally, I disagree with Ruthless Bunny about getting a poodle. I know a few poodles and my dog is a poodle-mix, and they're very high-strung dogs. They're also one-person dogs so they tend to attach themselves to one member of the family. However, they're highly intelligent which makes them fast learners and easier to train.
posted by cyml at 3:21 PM on September 25, 2012

Just got a 6-month-old puppy off Craigslist. His owner had to rehome him. He's a very energetic Boxer. I already have an 8-yr-old Boxer. It has been a difficult transition from going from 1 mellow dog to a very active puppy who is like a big gangly teenager--all legs and no brains. :) He cost $150. His neuter and shots and vet checkup cost $250. His new crate cost $150. He counter-surfed and ate $50-worth of food (some of it was still in its packaging). And that's all within three weeks.

Dogs are expensive.

Dogs are time-consuming.

Your house will NEVER EVER be clean again; there will always be something: hair, bodily fluids, vomit. It's always something. LOL Kinda like having another kid, one that will never grow up. If you are a clean freak, you will not like having a dog.

Would I do it again? Sure, but I love dogs.
posted by cass at 3:22 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I heartily applaud your careful, detailed research. Please download two excellent e-books: Before You Get your Puppy and After You Get You Puppy, by Ian Dunbar. If you have the time and will commit to making sure to do each of the "critical" tasks described in these books, you will have a happy puppy who grows into a safe, well-behaved dog. If you don't have the time and interest, you should consider alternatives.
posted by apennington at 3:44 PM on September 25, 2012

Best answer: Dogs are extroverts. I'm an introvert. I come home from a long day of work to be greeted by an animal that basically shouts for joy when I arrive, whines constantly for the next twenty minutes, follows me everywhere to the point of tripping me up, gets all up in my business when I'm changing out of work clothes (she has to smell my pants, socks, and shoes), and then needs to be walked and fed and that's not even including the attention she will demand over the course of the evening. It's overwhelming to me.

I wish I'd had the opportunity to choose to not have a dog. I took my dog and my ex took the cats after our split in 2009; it has not been easy to dog-parent alone and I even have support nearby. Dogs with excellent bladder control still need to be checked every 6-8 hours, and they're pack animals, so they get very depressed if they spend long amounts of time alone. I work a full-time job and then I started having a social life after work. I started dating again. It was a pain in the ass to sleep over with a new boyfriend who lived across town when I needed to check on my dog both late at night and early in the morning. You're now sharing custody of your kids with your ex, so there will be times when you can indulge yourself in ways that you haven't been able to do since you had kids. A dog will really cut into that.

I know I sound selfish. I love my dog a lot, and she is great. I got her from a shelter fully grown and fully trained. She is extremely well behaved. But sometimes I resent her for always being around, always having needs that she can't fulfill on her own, always demanding my time and energy. She has to go outside in the rain and the mud and the snow, and tracks it all back into the house. She wakes me up by barking at unknown things in the middle of the night. Pet-sitters are expensive- the ones in my Midwestern college town charge $15/visit, and that adds up even for an overnight/weekend trip.

Don't get a dog. At the very least, don't get a dog now. You're still in a transition period after your divorce. This transition will last months if not a year or two. A dog is very, very permanent, and that is not the kind of addition you need to be making at this time. Wait until the dust settles a bit, and then make a decision.
posted by aabbbiee at 5:06 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

But I agree, I'm looking at a breed that isn't barky, isn't snappy, has regular but not overwhelming grooming, has exercise needs that fit with our lifestyle, sheds little (though I'm used to that with the cats). I know some peeing and pooping will come with the territory of a puppy, but will a well-trained dog also pee and poop wherever (barring illness)?

I read this and I feel like you're setting yourself up to be disappointed when you get whatever breed it is and they don't conform to your ideals of what they should be. All dogs are different, with different behaviors and fears and joys and personalities, even if they are the same breed. Not everyone's idea of "little shedding" is going to mean the same thing. You may find that your dog requires more exercise than your family does, even after carefully shopping for a breed that seems appropriate. The best way to find out if a dog is a good fit for your family is to live with them, and the second best way is to adopt a dog from someone else who has lived with that dog. I highly recommend doing some volunteer work at your local shelter, so you can get to know dogs in the aggregate. You can also be trained to foster dogs, which is a temporary situation but it's also how many people find their ideal dog. If you can't do either, talk to rescue organizations that have dogs fostered in homes. That way you get a better idea from their foster parent of that dog's personality.

I just think it's very unwise to imagine a dog breed as having all these perfect qualities- because the reality may be different. Instead, try to find the individual dog that is a match. And definitely try to spend some quality time with some dogs before deciding that a cat won't do. Dogs are more work than cats, and even the best dogs don't come ready-made to fit into a new household.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:56 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

+1 for checking out Rescue groups. One of the key differences between a rescue organisation and the humane society/spca is the process and hoops you have to jump through to get the dog, this is so that they can be sure that you and the dog are going to be a good fit (They won't let you have a dog that eats cats and bites children).

Another big plus rescue org's have is that they KNOW the dog. These dogs are typically in private foster homes with kids and cats and real life happening all the time. Shelter dogs are just as deserving of your love, but you don't really know what you're getting and with kids and other pets in the mix that can be a pretty big gamble.

Rescue org's will typically let you get your feet wet slowly with afternoon/weekend visists turning into longer stays. Currently I have a Border Collie on a one month trial; we're keeping him, but if we weren't we could bring him back no questions asked.

A rescue dog will love you with all his/her heart and soul... For Ever.

A lot of what changes in your life with a dog has already been mentioned so I'll try not to repeat it. I had dogs growing up and I cannot imagine how empty my childhood would've been without them. You will never find another creature that will devote every ounce of its energy towards caring for its new family like a dog will. It will love, defend, and stand by your family as long as it can. Take it to obedience, that will be the best money you spend on it (other than the adoption fee!)
posted by Beacon Inbound at 10:32 PM on September 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, there is no guarantee that a rescue dog will love her. Especially not right away.

Many rescue dogs come from shitty, shitty backgrounds and have a wide variety of issues because of the way they've been mistreated. And many others had personality issues that lead to them being in a rescue, despite the general good will of the families that previously owned them. A rescue might love her more, because she's not mean to it. Or it might be absolutely terrified of her because terror is all it has ever known. Good dogs that lived perfectly well-adjusted lives with good owners who had to give the dog to a rescue for reasons entirely beyond their control are few and far between -- all the rest are a risk, and not all rescues are entirely upfront about the nature of the issues their dogs have.

Get a rescue if you're willing to accept that you may have to put in some work to get it to love you and obey you, but if you will be truly devastated if you don't get unconditional love back from the dog, then be very, very careful about which dog you choose.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:14 AM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

Many rescue dogs come from shitty, shitty backgrounds and have a wide variety of issues because of the way they've been mistreated. And many others had personality issues that lead to them being in a rescue, despite the general good will of the families that previously owned them. A rescue might love her more, because she's not mean to it. Or it might be absolutely terrified of her because terror is all it has ever known. Good dogs that lived perfectly well-adjusted lives with good owners who had to give the dog to a rescue for reasons entirely beyond their control are few and far between -- all the rest are a risk, and not all rescues are entirely upfront about the nature of the issues their dogs have.

A good rescue is interested in placing the dog in a home that it will stay in forever. The OP seems willing to take the time and find a "Good" rescue organisation that will get to know her and reasonably assess her suitability for various dogs. An indicator of the quality of rescue organisation (or breeder for that matter) will be how rigorous the hoops are that they want you to jump through. I have two rescued Border Collies sitting beside me right now, it took a little looking to find them, but I couldn't be happier with my choice to support a rescue rather than a breeder. 90% of the dogs I met were surrendered because people either didn't understand the breed, or bought the dog for their children and didn't want to do any work with it.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 6:24 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you're still checking this thread. If not, maybe someone else will read this thread and my anecdote will be helpful. I just adopted a puppy two weeks ago. A bit unexpected; I wanted an older, more mellow dog. The reason is because I had my last dog from the time he was 10 weeks until he needed to be euthanized at 14 years old due to severe arthritis in his hips and I know what it takes to raise a puppy well. Surprise - the dog I fell in love with just happened to be a six month old puppy.

I don't know exactly why she was surrendered, but I can guess. Chews up anything left on the floor, very mouthy & nippy, not potty trained, fearful of traffic and loud noises & not socialized to other dogs. Didn't even know how to go up and down stairs when I brought her home.

She was probably surrendered because her cute puppy behaviors at 8 weeks old weren't so cute when she got to be 5 months old. This is what happens to many puppies that are brought home by people who don't have any experience owning dogs; they end up at a shelter because their owner didn't know what they were getting into.

I fell in love with her, I'm still crazy about her but make no mistake, she is a full-time job. I'm lucky that I'm a SAHM so I can work with her all day. She needs at least two walks a day and constant supervision. She cannot be trusted alone in the house, so she goes everywhere with me. She cannot be yelled at when she makes mistakes; redirection to more desirable behaviors takes much thought and patience. It is work.

She is getting socialized to other dogs. She's learned how to walk up and down stairs. She is learning how to use a soft mouth. She is finally beginning to grasp potty training. This is all stuff I know how to teach a dog. Still she's going to need more training, so obedience classes are in her future. She's going to need medical insurance to cover those unfortunate accidents that are likely to happen - foxtails getting stuck in an ear, stepping on a piece of broken glass, eating something that shouldn't be eaten, being bitten by another dog, etc.,.

Make sure that you really want a dog before you get one. Don't take on a puppy unless you are committed to the work of raising it to doggie adulthood and are willing to do all the things that are necessary for a dog to be happy and healthy.
posted by echolalia67 at 9:04 PM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm late responding to this but thank you, thank you for so many helpful replies! To everyone who's wondering: wow, ok NO puppy! A young or adult dog only, I hear you. Also, I still think it's a year or two away before I take the plunge.

In terms of a dog's attention and daily needs, I'm a SAHM working part-time from home, near several dog-friendly parks, and with several dog-owner friends. I'm pretty confident about getting the dog his/her necessary walking etc. Ideally the walks will be to/from school with the kids and will be a good way to care for the dog and bond as a family. The breed of dog I've been looking at is a Eurasier. I've had a friend or two mention them as a good fit for me, but they're not common. I have contacted a breeder who also handles rescues in my area, and I'm going to meet several of his adult dogs over the next year or so as I get a feel for the breed.

And yes! I'm in therapy for the divorce and moving forward pretty well, thanks :-)
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 9:23 AM on February 7, 2013

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