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Choosing a dog

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  • #21
    I went to the shelter looking for a bulldog. I'd been a vet tech as an undergrad and well-understood my level of activity and my expectations for a dog. I took my dog-savvy neighbor and while I cried (walking the aisles of all these dogs that needed homes) she looked. She liked this spindly looking hound. I looked at him and immediately thought of all the clients with fat dogs and didn't think he was going to work out with me because I was quite sedentary. But he had a way and a personality that spoke to me so I put a hold on him. The adoption person talked me out of him because she said he was a coonhound and I knew that coonhounds were not good city dogs, generally speaking.

    My neighbor and I went back home, but the more we thought about it the more we thought he was at least not a purebred coonhound and I liked him alot. I learned an important tool from Cindy -she asked, "What would you do if you got him and he had that raise-the-dead bark (we lived in a duplex)?" I said worst case I'd debark him. That was that. I went back, put the hold back on just in time and got Milo, my first and my heart dog. As he matured we thought he had some Rhodesian Ridgeback in him. LOL I got an ILP on him so he was ridgeback enough for the AKC!

    Milo turned out to be my first Rhodesian Ridgeback. http://www.flickr.com/photos/5296733...in/photostream

    (Milo is the dog on the floor).

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

    Comment


    • #22
      My two

      I had just bought a farm and wanted to get my first dog that was actually MY dog instead of the family dog. My family had some Aussie's in the past and I loved them but I didn't want to just automatically get them. I researched some other breeds and went back to deciding on an Aussie. I then contacted Aussie rescue and talked about my requirements (good with cats, horses, and strangers). After a few weeks, the Aussie rescue called me and said they had a black bi puppy and did I want it. YES!

      I was talking to a co-worker about how I'd really like to eventually get two dogs so they would have each other for company while I was at work. She called the rescue and told them I really wanted two dogs. They contacted me again and told me that a litter mate of my black bi (this was before I picked her up) had her adoption fall through and did I want the blue merle too. After much discussion of the pros and cons, I decided I did. The girls are now 12 1/2 but certainly don't act like it. My only concern is if one goes first, how will the other handle it.

      http://s1194.beta.photobucket.com/us...59222350542077
      Last edited by Holly Jeanne; Nov. 12, 2012, 05:36 PM.
      Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe

      Comment


      • #23
        I've picked all of my dogs off of petfinder.com, so I guess you could say I go based on looks. BUT, that doesn't mean they have all been "pretty" or purebred. One of my previous dogs was a plain looking hound/lab mix that had been in a shelter all of her life (18 months), and the shelter folks said in all that time she'd only had five people even bother to get her out of her run. She was one of the best dogs I've ever known.

        I've currently got one dalmatian from a breed rescue (purebred, or at least looks it), and one total mutt who has a habit of losing his hair in the summer. For me, its always been a matter of looking at a gazillion dogs online and waiting to find the one that I can't stop thinking about. Might take a while, but it's been totally worth it for us.

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        • #24
          Originally posted by equinelerium View Post
          I've picked all of my dogs off of petfinder.com, so I guess you could say I go based on looks... .For me, its always been a matter of looking at a gazillion dogs online and waiting to find the one that I can't stop thinking about. Might take a while, but it's been totally worth it for us.
          To me, this is a bizarre way to acquire a dog...evidently works for this person, but seems very strange to me.

          But people find human "soul mates" in comparable ways...

          I still go back to thinking about breed characteristics, behaviors you want to live with, etc.......

          Comment


          • #25
            I wrote down a list of characteristics and qualities I wished, then researched breeds. Also, and this is the point that got me my first dog, shared said list with various dog knowledgeable people and invited their breed input. But it was incredibly specific.

            Many months later, as I was still researching, one of said dog knowledgeable friends contacted me with details on this dog who needed to be rehomed. She remembered exactly what I wanted. "Don't you want ABCDE, etc.? Here's a dog with ABCD and E 1/2 who needs a place." There are plenty of people who would say, "I have a great dog for you," and I wouldn't even consider it, because their process is so different that the chances of a match weren't great. But this friend was of the same style as I was. I went to see dog, liked the dog, debated on E 1/2, decided that for free, I could live with E 1/2 (long hair), and everything else lined up perfectly. So I took the dog on a 1-month trial, and it worked out.

            But I can't imagine just going to the shelter and looking for a face that pulled my heartstrings. I do know people myself who got dogs they loved that way, though. The variety among people types is fascinating.

            Unfortunately, I'm back to dog consideration (same criteria, though). Hadn't mentioned it, but my BMD died about a month ago. Sigh. Actually, one different criteria. I'd rather not start at middle-aged next time, even though I appreciated the pre-installed training.

            Comment


            • #26
              The two we have currently were dogs we researched and intended to get. In 30+ years and after having many dogs, these are the only two I've ever chosen myself. In the past, all of the dogs we had were dogs that had been dumped out in the country. With only one exception, all were really nice dogs and great pets.

              Our current two, a lab and a standard poodle, met the criteria we had. Big, friendly, retriever personalities. We did check for OFA, CERF, met the parents, etc. They fit in with our active lifestyle, kids, house, etc.

              I will say that right now (day 4 in the new place), having big dogs is kind of a PITA because we don't have a yard so in order to get them sufficient exercise or to go potty, I have to walk them. Also, living in a town home sharing a wall on each side with other residents, the occasional barking is problematic.

              Best of luck on your search!
              A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

              Might be a reason, never an excuse...

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              • #27
                I think you're setting yourself up for a potential disaster if you select your dog based on "how it looks" (especially from one of those icky photos on petfinder), or how it behaves in a shelter environment- many dogs act very abnormally in a shelter, and well, you'll hear all kinds of stories about how the dog who seemed wonderful in the shelter turned into something totally different in the home environment, often with tragic results, or at least with less than desirable results.

                Far better to be very honest with yourself about your capabilities for exercise, training, attention, and grooming, and then extensively research breeds and bloodlines within breeds. And then be honest with the breeders about yourself so they can help match you with an appropriate bloodline and puppy.
                If you're going the rescue route, you should be very honest with the rescue about yourself so they can match you with an appropriate dog, based on their foster people's knowledge of the dogs. If you're doing the shelter dog route, at least learn how to perform a basic temperament test and bring a couple of experienced people with you to help you evaluate the dogs for suitability.

                Basically the best matches are made when someone who knows the dog better than you do picks the dog for you after you explain your needs/capabilities.

                Comment


                • #28
                  After my cocker died (I ended up with him after someone dropped him, as a 7 weeks puppy) at the vet's office where I was working, DH and I knew we'd get another dog once we'd had a chance to heal.

                  A few months later, we went to an adoption event to see what was offered. My biggest criterium was that the dog be housebroken. Hair didn't matter (I mean, we'd had a cocker spaniel!)

                  Simon is an ACD cross and was clearly not enjoying the hullabaloo of the adoption event. But he was patient and gentle, not frantically trying to get away or even offering to growl or bite. Just timid. Anyway, when we asked to see him (he was a year old and 100% housebroken), he came to us unhesitatingly. We took him on a walk around the store and spent some time talking to him and petting him. When we brought him back, fully intending to adopt, he pressed against my legs instead of going into his crate and just looked up at me! Wonderful dog - still a bit on the shy side, but sweet, sweet, sweet and never puts a foot wrong.

                  Fast-forward 3 months. We'd been discussing getting Simon another dog for company but hadn't really been looking. Went to pick up dog food and lo and behold, walked right into another adoption event. And there was Lance. Young, cheerful, loved all of the attention, and about the same size as Simon. (Also housebroken!) Oh, when he reached out with that paw. . .he had me. DH took a bit of convincing, but when I pointed out that we really shouldn't wait too much longer if we planned to add a second dog, he relented.

                  It took all of one evening for the two dogs to bond. Personalities are SO different, but they are perfect for us and perfect for each other.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Dog #1: I have always liked bully type dogs (excluding English Bulldogs due to health issues and energy level), wanted short hair, and wanted a dog with a decent amount of energy. After researching about breeds, I found that my energy level and abilities was compatible with my likes so onto Petfinder and Craigslist I went as personally with so many of the selected breed looking for homes once they became adults and not enough good home for the amount of dogs produced I could not justify encouraging people to breed more. Found a brindle dog 'Free to good Home' about a year old on craigslist, we went to look at him and came home with him. He was quite a challenge at first, as he came with training but is a dominant, stubborn boy who took advantage of our inexperience. We have things figured out now and we love him to death... but our tenacity, willingness to learn, and my ability to exercise him a lot is what ended up making things work. He is the best jogging buddy ever now but still a bit neurotic.

                    I am almost positive that the reason the previous owners ended up getting rid of him is that they bought a puppy on color and breed alone without researching the temperament and energy level and comparing it to their own energy level and abilities. In our area, I see a lot of dogs that are getting dumped around 1-2 years old when they are not a cute puppy anymore and the reality of owning a dog sets in. It makes me horribly sad.

                    Dog #2, a dane was given to us by friends as she got along great with our Dog #1, and she was too boisterous for their aging dog inadvertently hurting older dog more than once. RIP old girl, you were the best dog ever! She had a lot of health challenges the whole time we had her.

                    Dog #3, As dog #2 was slowing down, we thought that adding another dog for Dog #1 to play with was a good idea and a local animal shelter was offering free adoptions so off we went! We looked at petfinder before going and had two dogs picked out to look at although when I went to back to check to see if the dogs were still available in the back another super cutie (some kind of boxer mix gone horribly wrong, he is so ugly he is ridiculously cute) ran to the front wagging his tail and wanting attention. One dog had already been adopted and the other dog was too similar in personality type (i.e. dominant male dog) to Dog #1 that it would not have worked out. However the staffer helping us suggested she bring out a different dog that might be a better match. Low and behold she brought out super cutie who immediately play bowed to Dog #1. We adopted him. After we got him home though, we realized the extend that the poor guy was messed up. Many curses to whoever dumped him, you are cruel, horrible people that deserve whatever is coming to you. After much time and effort, he has been integrated in the household and we love him to death. The only lingering issue is that he will destroy beds if left loose while we are gone but that is easily handled by using a crate. Just last week I was able to take a nap with him on our bed with the door closed!!! That only took 3 years!

                    Dog #4: After putting Dog #2 to sleep, we were horribly sad and wanted to get another dane. With no luck on Petfinder, we started looking on craigslist, and after many no return e-mails, we finally came across and ad with a phone number. Turns out the dog was just down the road..... We took our two dogs to meet the dane, everyone got along smashingly well. A few hours later we came home with a new dane. He is a challenge, 100+ dog that was not leash training at all, way up in your business, extremely high energy, extremely needy, a bit destructive..... We are working on it, have only had him a little while, but good gravy I can see why the previous owners did not want him anymore!! Not to say that they did not take good care of him (apart from not leash training him when he was a manageable size but that is a rant for another day), but they sure did not do us any favors!

                    My biggest suggestion is to be honest with yourself about your energy level and abilities. - Do you come home and just want to sit on the couch? Do not get a high energy dog as you both will be miserable. Getting a dog that is high energy is not going to suddenly make you a runner. Most likely that will just result in a lot of behavioral problems and unhappiness for both of you.
                    - Do you need a dog that is easier to train? Do not get a breed that is know to be stubborn, like terriers are generally known to be (I know there are exceptions to everything, but generally terriers are stubborn, driven and opinionated).
                    - Etc....

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      I think this is a matter of "Man plans, God laughs". I knew the qualities I was looking for in a dog, but ended up with a ridgeback -the first of many. I guess it depends on your own personality and how flexible you might be (not making a quality statement). I got a dog and changed my lifestyle to match him. I went from sedentary to walking about 6 miles a day first thing in the morning! But that's just me.

                      Paula
                      He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by wendy View Post
                        I think you're setting yourself up for a potential disaster if you select your dog based on "how it looks" (especially from one of those icky photos on petfinder), or how it behaves in a shelter environment- many dogs act very abnormally in a shelter, and well, you'll hear all kinds of stories about how the dog who seemed wonderful in the shelter turned into something totally different in the home environment, often with tragic results, or at least with less than desirable results.

                        Far better to be very honest with yourself about your capabilities for exercise, training, attention, and grooming, and then extensively research breeds and bloodlines within breeds. And then be honest with the breeders about yourself so they can help match you with an appropriate bloodline and puppy.
                        If you're going the rescue route, you should be very honest with the rescue about yourself so they can match you with an appropriate dog, based on their foster people's knowledge of the dogs. If you're doing the shelter dog route, at least learn how to perform a basic temperament test and bring a couple of experienced people with you to help you evaluate the dogs for suitability.

                        Basically the best matches are made when someone who knows the dog better than you do picks the dog for you after you explain your needs/capabilities.
                        True. On re-read my post sounds awfully starry eyed and headed for disaster huh? Should have been more specific, I pick based on the pics after I've narrowed my search results, if you will, based on characteristics I'm interested in. And of course, I always do a meet and greet with the dog to assess them in person. But I can only think of one occasion when I didn't end up with the dog I picked from petfinder, and that was because an adoption was pending.

                        My grandmother worked with a rescue, and we always had foster dogs around when I was growing up. Dealing with straight from the shelter dogs (and all their issues) is familiar territory for me, but I'm going into it with my eyes open and a bit of experience.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          The first dog DH and I got together was at a horse sale. We went to look at and possibly buy horses and ended up with a tiny, red "mini" Aussie puppy. We were just watching him play with his littermates and you could just tell he was different. He is the sweetest, most friendly, and most intelligent dog I have ever met. He was even the ring bearer at our wedding: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...type=3&theater
                          Southern Cross Guest Ranch
                          An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

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                          • #33
                            I do think it matters what sort of expectations you have for a dog....if you are not going to do much with it (as far as particular training/showing or other activities) then perhaps almost any dog will do, so the Petfinder approach may not be so bad, or just going to the shelter, Craigslist, taking in a stray, etc. I tend to forget that for many people, they get what they experience as great dogs this way, and would be happy with a huge variety of dogs, regardless of the dog's breed, behavior, appearance, etc. It seems to matter to many people that they feel they have some sort of connection based on eye contact or general appearance.

                            On the other hand, some of us narrow it down to not only a breed, but particular
                            lines within that breed, of particular conformation and temperament, reared a particular way....

                            It has been very eye-opening to me to read this thread. I needed that reminder. Thank you!

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #34
                              I've had a dog or dogs all my life. It has been a few years since having my own, I've been doing the fostering thing. I'm not particular about a breed of dog like I am with horses, but I tend to be attracted to the border collie look. I am not a high energy person so I would need a lazy bc or a mix that has that "look". Just as with horses I'm sure a good dog could be any type. For me the heart is the most important thing, my dog wouldn't have to do anything other than warm my feet in the winter.
                              Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Gestalt View Post
                                For me the heart is the most important thing, my dog wouldn't have to do anything other than warm my feet in the winter.
                                LOL! I guess that gives you quite a wide range to choose from!

                                I think some people who are quite particular about choosing a horse to buy, are much less so with choosing a dog, if their only requirement is a pet or a foot-warmer. Perhaps people tend to have more specific expectations of horses, so that "Equine, hay-eating" just does not work as a general impetus to buy.

                                Still, I think it might be important when choosing a creature that will be your companion and family member for ten or fifteen years, to focus on traits that are important. OP, it is great that you have identified "should not require huge amounts of physical/mental stimulation" as an important criterion. Color, not so much....if it is the black/white collar-feet-chest-tail tip that is sometimes called "Irish Marking", you can find that in many breeds, though it is probably most common in herding breeds which often do not fit your more lower energy requirement. But Berners and Swissys might suit, color and energy-wise, if you don't mind a bit of tan and a larger, bulkier, less agile physique.

                                Of course many mixes might have the look and minimum behavior bar you have set, and I sense you may be flexible even in this very minimal criteria.

                                Of course, some people are not all that particular about choosing a horse, either!

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Hey, Wendy -- I spend a lot of time with those "icky" photos on Petfinder! I also try my best to do proper assessments and describe our rescues dogs as best I can, updating whenever we have "new information" based on interactions. Petfinder has helped us find some wonderful homes for dogs.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    I agree that people approach choosing a dog very differently. Some have particular needs that rule out some types of dogs. I think the key is knowing what you really want from a dog, and being realistic about what you offer in terms of gooming, time with the dog, and exercise.

                                    I think the worst matches tend to come when somebody is stuck on the appearance or idea of a particular breed and ignore the fact that they are totally unsuited in many ways.

                                    My first adult dog was a 3/4 cocker, 1/4 poodle oops puppy from a college friend's farm. She was a great companion for someone who moved away from home! The "Mary Poppins of puppies" (practically perfect in every way) she lived in about a dozen places as I travelled and changed jobs. I didnt have strict criteria when choosing her other than not too big. She was available when I could have a dog ans was just too damn cute!

                                    When I was looking for another dog I wanted something different so I wouldnt compare. I ended up with a blue merle Aussie. I bought from a breeder and met the parents and chose him from the litter based on personality. I did a little showing including obedience with a little success. He taught me that I really wasnt active enough as a single working person for this kind of dog. I did my best, but knew that I wanted something less active next time.

                                    I was dogless for a while after he died. My mom became ill and later died, so I didnt have time. Once she passed I wanted to get another dog for companionship. I had known a few Cavaliers and really liked the smaller size (after trying to pick up a 60 lb Aussie when he was sick!) and gentle, loving nature. I was concerned about a dog being alone too much. I wanted to rescue a small dog and then get a Cavalier puppy. I tried Petfinder but several dogs I inquired about were placed. Then I found I couldnt commit to bringing a dog across the country for me without experiencing its personality. The only local adoption events or dogs in shelters were not suitable - too big, not dog friendly etc. And so I ended up with two Cavalier puppies from a breeder who did agility and rally with her dogs. I found that I did a good job this time matching my wants and needs with theirs.

                                    I believe that most of us have a good degree of flexibility in the kind of dogs we would enjoy. And while the dogs are not always who we thought they were, we tend to love the little stinkers anyway!

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      I decided on a breed first-a lab-and then found a local rescue. Not quite sure actually what intially drew me to labs, because all the previous experiences I had had with them were not good, lol.

                                      So I did what the lab rescue website wanted (filled out a long application) and dragged my husband to a farmers market where they had setup a booth and were bringing one dog I had seen on their website that interested me. I had been sucked in by the look of this one dog (of course) and when we got there, I was disheartened to see a really bouncy, energetic, not so well behaved dog. However, my husband spied a very calm looking, lovely yellow lab sitting with one of the volunteers. So while I spent some time looking over the other dogs, he took the yellow lab for a little walk. As soon as he came back he said to me "you HAVE to take this dog for a walk". We ended up taking the dog home that day, which actually really surprised me (the rescue's website made it seem like we would have some kind of long adoption/vetting process)

                                      I think it was love at first walk for my husband, but I quickly came to appreciate how awesome my dog was. Another case of don't pick on looks! Because I would have passed him by.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        I did the same thing with dogs that I did with my horse - I started off with a plan and then that plan met reality, and I recognized opportunities I didn't even know existed. So it all worked out better than I imagined and had planned for.

                                        Paula
                                        He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by AKB View Post
                                          We love Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. We have a good, long time in business, breeder. When we want a dog, I contact her. When a suitable dog comes along, she sends it to us. She takes back any of her puppies who don't work out, so occasionally she has a dog who was returned by people who can't deal with a Chessies, or a show dog does not do as well as expected. Our 9 year old and 3 year old Chessies were show dogs who didn't place well and became available to us as 1 year olds. My 89 year old father's 7 year old Chessies was returned to the breeder because of divorce when he was a year old.
                                          Good choice in breed, but NOT for everyone. I have an 8 year old and an 8 month old Chessie and lost my 14 year old 2 years ago. I honestly would never have any other breed (except for a Rott) but these dogs hunt and hunt quite a bit. Both my girls came from breeders who breed strictly for hunting, not showing and IMHO, they are by far, 2 of the best looking Chessies I have ever seen.

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