June 30, 2009

Who cares? Really. Who cares?

The decision to get a dog came as a surprise to some folks. Not so much to others. Poor Goofy Girl has been hearing the Doggie Debate for a good 7 years now.

In 2002 I bought a house and immediately started the Doggie Debate. The following year, X and I got married and continued the debate by adding in his favorite breed (Labradors. Not really a breed for me.) In short, this decision did not come lightly or quickly. But now? We are in a good place in life to have a dog - our kids are more independent and not a danger to the dog. They are learning to not keep their frockin' toys all over the place (seriously, the floor has not been this clean in years.) And with X and I both working from home these days, it is helping with the whole housebreaking thing (we are using the crate-training method.)

In the end, I wanted one of the breeds with which I lived the longest, breeds that I knew the best and with which I was most comfortable - a Cairn terrier or a husky. My two childhood dogs that I bonded with the most were this Cairn and the husky. End of story. And for our lifestyle, a terrier really fit the bill (although, I did not want one of those yappy, snippy, types of terriers who have "small-dog syndrome", something I will be working to avoid at all costs.) And while I did not get my first choice, a Cairn Terrier, getting a West Highland Terrier was good enough since Westies are essentially a white Cairn terrier (FYI Flash: A Cairn terrier is a "Toto dog", the same dog in the Wizard of Oz movie, although NOT the books.)

And Lucy is everything we wanted - spunky, hardy, scrappy, and very snuggly. She loves the kids and in fact, gets restless when they are asleep and she needs to play, dammit.

I was going to write a long, defensive post about why we chose not get a rescue dog (check out this irreverent take on Slate regarding the rescue movement. It's entertaining enough. "Canine-11 (Why Americans are obsessed with "resucing" dogs)" ) Then, I decided to go the Eh, Whatever routes. Seriously. That is lovely that other folks do the rescue dog thing. But it did not work out for us. And I knew exactly what sort of dog I wanted, which significantly narrowed the Rescue Dog Playing Field. Growing up, my family had all sorts of dogs - purebreed, half-breeds, plain old mutts. Terriers, shepherds, a poolie, samoyeds, huskies, and even pitt-bulls. We got them in all sorts of manners - shelters, breeders, friends, side of the road and even at an Easter egg hunt.

I did visit our animal shelter here a few times and simply did not see a dog that I wanted. I knew what I wanted and when we saw Lucy, I knew she was the right fit for our family. And while, yes, we did pay for her, we did not pay a much more than if we had gotten a dog from a shelter. No, she is not some fancy show dog and we love her unapologetically.

She was worth every penny.


Goofy Girl said...

Hey!!! Where are the photos!?!? We want to see the little cutie!

Seriously, congrats! It has been a long time coming, but that just shows that you did the research and your family is ready for a dog.

I have to warn you though...Westies like the company of other dogs. You might end up with a "Linus" soon! :-)

Goofy Girl said...

Okay, so I'm totally busted for not reading your blog on a daily basis. Just scrolled down and saw the cute dog pics.

Looks like she's fitting in fabulously!!!!

LL said...

Congrats on Lucy! I can't imagine our family without our dogs and Landon loves them like the siblings they think themselves to be :)

Interesting Slate article. I disagree with most of it, but it's about a very different area of the country. Down here stray/lost dogs are a huge problem- in our local pounds dogs get 3 days to be reclaimed or rescued and then they are euthanized. So rescuing a dog, and supporting the organizations who go to the pounds and foster those dogs that would make great pets, was (is) a very big deal to me. It's not so much a smug mental pat on the back, it's truly knowing that if Rosie and Tex (our labs) hadn't been picked up by SNIPSA hours before their euthanization, they wouldn't be here. And by adopting them from SNIPSA, we freed up foster home spots for two more dogs to be saved. So when a family down here talks about getting a dog I do always hope they will get one from one of those groups rather than supporting someone who is breeding a dog for money. That said, every dog deserves a good home, so I'm always happy when they find one -- regardless of where they came from.

Olivia said...

All I have to add is that Lucy is an awesome name, cause that is my dog's name.

Gori Girl said...

Interesting article you linked... While I agree with some points - like that having a rescue dog doesn't get you off the hook on training - I think the author takes a bit too casual attitude towards the idea of rescuing dogs, especially abused ones.

We ended up going with breed rescues for both of our dogs - one was a German Shepherd rescue, and one was a Alaskan Malamute rescue. Both organizations knew their dogs inside & out, from fostering - and, in the case of the Malamute rescue, they would not adopt out a dog unless it was a *very* good fit for the family getting it, since the best Malamute can still be a tricky dog to handle.

Both of the dogs we got were "difficult" dogs - which fit for us, since my husband & I both grew up & know about dogs. Obviously, I don't think that would work if we had two little ones running around, like you guys do - in that case, I completely understand getting a pup that doesn't come with any baggage, and is a breed that you know will fit your family well.

Oh, and I'm a bit irritated by the casual way the author of the Slate article dismissed abused dogs. Kajol, our GSD/Beagle mix, wasn't abused in any way - she just didn't have a home or much training 'til we got her, and was in that awkward adolescent stage (still is, actually). But Panda, our Malamute rescue, was abused - I've read the Animal Cruelty report that came with him, and it was not pretty. We've worked *hard* with him to turn him around from a very miserable, scared dog to a happy dog - not because either of us want to feel like a hero, but because we knew that he'd be a good fit for our family. And he totally is, now that we're over the hump. That dog can carry 18 pounds backpacking, and LOVES it - less work for us on the trails. :-)