Posted by: Linda B | February 21, 2012

a peaceful existence

I’ve had a dual dog home for many years now, but the story has it’s ups and downs.

Adopted one dog from the Baltimore shelter – a mellow 2 yr old labpit mix.  Rescued another off the streets – pitboxer mix – turns out she was also about two years old.   I was really worried they wouldn’t get along and initial introductions were starting to go that way, but after a few days, those two dogs were inseparable!

Three years later my husband and I divorced.  As a result, he took one dog and I took the other – neither of us could handle (or have in an apartment) two dogs.  We did manage to give them lots of time together when either of us went on vacation or just needed a dual dog fix.  We made the effort because we knew those two dogs loved each other – played together, slept together, hung out together… were best friends.

Then I moved out of state for my job – 14 hours away. No more visits or play dates. I was a difficult decision but you go where your job goes these days.

A year after being a single dog owner, and with a new man in my life, we decided it was time to get another full-time dog to “replace” the other and give my single dog companionship while I was at work 8 hours a day.

We saw the most adorable Rott-Lab puppy on a shelter website, drove 2 hours to get there, 2 hours to bring him back, did all the right things to introduce him to my single dog and were so brilliantly pleased with ourselves that the introduction/adjustment had been seemingly so easy!    Maggie had a new companion!

And within days it became obvious that I had made a horrible mistake.

I made the rookie mistake of forgetting to match personality and energy level – not just temperament.  I now have an 8 year old dog who does not like her 2 year old “brother” very much because he has FAR too much energy for her – he is in her face all the time, he doesn’t understand her signals when she doesn’t want to be messed with, he has grown up bigger than her and doesn’t show a lot of respect for her aging abilities.

I am actually heartbroken – even two years later.  My single dog used to be the “silly” one with all the energy and fun… until the puppy came along.  Although I gave her as much (if not more) attention to make sure she knew she was loved, the energy level between the two is so dramatically different that it has affected the entire household.

My fun, sweet girl tolerates the second dog and we find ourselves constantly having to intervene so that he doesn’t bother her.   Every now and again she’ll attempt to play with the puppy but within moments she retreats to her kennel until he calms down and then she returns to just hang out with us.  She’s even more cautious about engaging with him now that she’s had to have knee surgery.

We’ve tried walking the puppy for longer walks, tried taking him to a local dog park on weekends (where he runs and runs and runs and runs) and even paid for “doggie day camp” to help run off the energy that he has – but it’s endless and he has yet show respect for her unless she growls at him.

After the first year of trying to make it work I actually tried to find the “new” dog another more suitable home, but despite my efforts – no takers. I refuse/d to take him back or to another shelter because of the kill rate around here — and truth is he’s a good dog.

He’s still with us but I feel badly for both.  The elder for not relaxing and enjoying every single day of her golden years, the younger for “getting into trouble” whenever he plays too hard.

Dual/Multi-dog families can be great… but I strongly recommend people have the RIGHT combo for a peaceful existence.

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