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longgone's avatar

Will you help me decide whether to adopt a second dog?

Asked by longgone (7547 points ) July 10th, 2014

I have a ten-year-old Labrador – Nerina. I would like a second dog, but there are two points which have stopped me until now:

1. I am not entirely sure Nerina would be thrilled with a new puppy. In fact, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t be. She is good with all dogs, she plays and greets them happily – but she’d gladly exchange most of them for humans or treats. However, the new puppy would have a different set of rules at first. It wouldn’t be allowed on any furniture, for example, so Nerina would have puppy-free zones. I would also take Nerina on walks without the puppy pretty regularly.

2. Then there’s money. I’m still a student, so I don’t make a lot of it. I wouldn’t be able to pay for a 2000$ surgery. I don’t have any rationalizations here, but I do wonder whether I’m being overly cautious. Unless I’m being responsible? I do have the money for dog food – always and high-quality, even. I pay for the vet whenever I need him, and Nerina is on pain meds for a hip issue. The trouble is, I don’t know whether I will have more – or less – money anytime soon. Then again, how sure of that is anyone, ever?

I want another dog – despite the above – partly because I’m scared of Nerina dying, I think. It will be a while, but I would not like the dog-less phase at all. Also – I just…want another dog. I can’t explain why, but I trust all of you have wanted something at least once in your lives, so you probably understand.

Thoughts?

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8 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

Cost is definitely a concern, of course, but I tend to share all your other feelings. Have you considered adopting a slightly older dog? A puppy can be really hard on an older dog, all the romping and hanging off of ears and lips with sharp puppy teeth and such. If you do get a puppy, please consider one that will not be larger than Nerina when grown, that can be really hard on her.

Of course none of us can tell you what you should do, mostly I can just commiserate. Because of illness at one point in my life I had to be dogless for over a year. I hated it, and I hope to never have to do that again.

Good luck with this decision and please let us know!

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Given Nenna’s age, and health, I agree that it might not be long.
You have some good ideas on how to protect Nenna’s feelings, but because of her age and health, I think she would feel replaced, especially since puppies require a lot of attention.
I think you should wait.
Puppy now, puppy later, either way you will mourn Nenna when her time comes.
Be who she needs you to be. When her time comes, go through the pain, the memories. There is no pain free life, but through the mourning process, you will find that lots of wonderful memories will also surface. Don’t deprive yourself of that.
I think the new puppy would benefit from not facing resentment or avoidance from Nenna.
Waiting seems right to me.

Blueroses's avatar

My experience here is both personal and professional.

In nearly every situation with a dog-friendly older dog, a new addition is a benefit.

The older dog sets her own boundaries with the younger and takes on a mentor role as well as becoming rejuvenated by doggie play that no human can replicate. Additionally, the younger dog requires much less of your hands-on training as s/he learns quite a bit from observing the matriarch.

I second @candidmajor in considering a past-puppy-stage pet.
I’ll go a step further and recommend you talk with the front office staff at your vet’s office.

They know you and Narina and are a vast resource for so many re-homeable dogs. Many humans go through disease, death, relocation and unforeseen changes in fortune that leaves them unable to care for their pet family members. If your vet staff knows you, they will alert you to suitable matches for Narina’s temperment and your personal needs.

As a veterinary office manager, I played successful matchmaker so many times I lost count!

canidmajor's avatar

@Blueroses: Wonderful advice about asking the vet! My first “second dog” was a young terrier acquired from my vet, and his presence really rejuvenated my old retriever. It was a huge benefit to the household bringing him aboard.

Blueroses's avatar

@canidmajor Because I follow my own advice, all of my fur-family is “second hand”. Every so often, the perfect match was.. ME!!

johnpowell's avatar

Pretend that you are thinking about having a child and #2 was a concern. Would you intentionally have that child? And would you look down on others in your same circumstances that intentionally had the child?

For me pets are pretty much the same things as kids.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, you already have a dog, so you know the responsibility you will be taking on. It really sounds like the prudent thing is to not get a dog now, but you do seem to really want one. I don’t think it is ever good to be strapped for money if one can avoid it. One bad thing happens and you are in a financial hole trying to dig your way out. I think save up the next month by putting money away that would have been spent on new puppy food and a vet visit for shots. After that if you still want a dog get one. The savings can be a cushion for any surprises. I personally would not get another dog, but it doesn’t matter what I would do for myself.

longgone's avatar

I’m sorry I didn’t get back to this question sooner. I had a lot of mulling-over to do, and suddenly, I was packing for the four-week vacation I just returned from.

I have decided to slow down and give myself at least half a year before making any plans. I’ve reconsidered the money issue, and it does scare me quite a bit. Thanks, everyone, for your help!

@canidmajor, you bring up a good point about a puppy stressing Nerina. An older dog would at least be settled in his temperament. If I do, at some point, get a second dog, I will consider that.

Unfortunately, @Blueroses, I can’t really see Nerina setting boundaries very efficiently. My sister adopted a dog three years ago, and whenever that puppy was hanging off Nerina’s ears, she just whimpered pathetically. On walks, she does tell other dogs off – but at home, she leaves all that to us. Great advice about asking the vet, though – never would have thought of that!

@Jonesn4burgers Thanks for the kind words. I like the idea of being who Nerina needs me to be. I owe her that much, I suppose.

@johnpowell I would not, no – you’re completely right.

@JLeslie Good points. Especially as, with an old dog, there very well might be a couple of surprises.

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