adding a new family member

IMG_0666I’ve always had pets from the moment I was born. OK, of course the cat that was with me since the day I was born was not my cat, but the point is, I’ve never been without a pet. I’ve been through points in my life where I’ve had one pet and then I’ve had points where I’ve had many. Before leaving California, we had 1 cat, 1 dog, 1 eclectus parrot, 2 rats, 1 guinea pig, 1 fresh water aquarium, 1 salt water aquarium. To avoid stresses of a cross country move to upstate New York, I found loving homes for all of them except the cat, the dog and one beta fish. While in New York, the cat passed and we acquired one ferret. Today, in Switzerland, we still have the dog and the ferret and it’s been a small family for three years now. The beta fish stayed back in New York, where he lived an amazing life of 5 years!

Having pets is a responsibility I take seriously. Being an animal trainer and care giver is more than a career for me, it’s who I am. It’s my training, my education, and my background. It became very clear as I entered my young adult life, that having children was not for me. There just isn’t a part of me that desires having a baby and then raising children, but taking care of animals is something I enjoy very much. So it looks like my mommy gene skipped the primate species.

For the first time in a long time, I’m beginning to feel like I would enjoy adding a new member to our family. More specifically, I would love to add another dog … I think. It’s complicated of course. Adding a new member to our family affects many people and things.

My current dog is an absolute blessing. She makes having the responsibility of owning a dog easy. She’s well mannered and quiet. She’s a very laid back dog who only needs to go out twice a day to take care of her needs. She’s perfectly fine being on her own and she’s not demanding of my time. She also gets along very well with our ferret. She’s a bit antisocial, picking and choosing which dogs she likes to interact with, but she is not aggressive to any (unless they attack her first). I find her to be extremely smart and she enjoys being my companion. Because of how calm and well mannered she is, people LOVE watching her for us. It’s been extremely easy for us to schedule holidays that can’t include her, as people are more than happy to take her in. She’s just not as demanding of people’s time as many dogs can be. She is truly like having a cat sometimes.

I’m not sure if I want to disrupt this perfect balance we have right now by adding another family member. I’ve been tossing the idea around in my head for awhile now, since finding a job has been difficult and I am available to spend the appropriate time with a new addition.

Recently, on one of the English forums, I’ve discovered someone is looking for a home for their 6 month old Appenzell Mountain Dog/Mini Doberman mix. It’s an interesting mix and naturally, an Appenzell Mountain Dog (a swiss breed) is a working dog. It’s a very active and energetic dog. Which is the opposite of what I currently own. This is a dog that will need to expel its energy daily. This isn’t a problem, since I already get my dog out for lengthy walks daily. However, on the weekends, I am sometimes a bit lazier on my walks.

I’m trying to decide if I should pursue adopting this particular dog.

This will change my daily life. Adopting a young and new dog into the house means I will become busier. There will be a lot of bonding and training. My life will have to adjust to having a different kind of dog in my life. I’ll most likely have to become a lot more active than I am now. I’ve been looking for work (unsuccessfully), but this will mean I really should not find a job right now. At least, not one that will leave the new addition at home alone. I don’t know how this new dog will be. Currently, my dog leaves me alone at night (unless she’s ill) and I’m very lucky that I can have a lie in on the weekends. Though, we now have a house with a yard, so potty breaks can be done with just opening the back door. So lie ins can still happen on the weekends, they’ll just be a little interrupted. We may not be able to leave the house for very long with the new dog. I already know he’s having problems with staying home alone (which is part of why he needs to find a new home). Now, he may do ok since he won’t be home alone, but with my dog, or he may not. In any case, there will be an adjustment period there as well.

Dog sitters may not be keen on taking care of two dogs. I’ve already talked to one of my sitters and the first thing out of their mouth was, “If the new dog is as great as Mattie, more than happy to take care of the both of them.” Well, that puts a lot of pressure on me to recreate a second awesome dog through love and training. Can I do it?

My dog will be affected by the new addition. Assuming the two dogs get along (and I would never adopt the new dog if they didn’t get along) there will be an adjustment period. My dog is currently used to being the dog in the house. Now, there might be an advantage with the new dog, he will be younger and perhaps my dog will be able to make it clear that she’s in charge. However, should things swing the other way, with the dog being an Appenzeller mix, it might work out alright. Appenzeller’s have a natural desire to herd and protect and my dog might become part of its pack in that way. My dog takes well to “working dogs” already. Every time we’ve ever come across any of those breeds, she’s always been eager to meet and play with them. I find she has more of a submissive behavior to her and looks to a pack leader.

Her behavior may change too, with the new dog. She may start displaying bad behavior simply because of the new dog. Things she would never think of doing, she may decide to do. I’m worried she might acquire some terrible behavior and “act out” so to speak. Of course, I can work through these, but it’s making that conscious “risk” that has me hesitate. On the flip side, maybe adopting a new dog will change my dog for the better?Maybe she’ll become a lot more social with other dogs? Sometimes I feel like she’s in a little shell, and maybe this will bring her out of it.

Are there positives? Of course! I get a new dog to give love and care to. Seeing how the Appenzeller is an active dog, I’ll also have a more willing running partner when the weather warms up. It’s going to change my life, but it will also be a rewarding addition.

The other option to consider is not adopting this particular dog, but maybe another one that seems a lot more like my current dog. It will still be an adjustment, of course, but maybe not as big as adopting a 6 month old bundle of energy?

I have much to think on these next few days.

© Semi-Charmed Life


6 thoughts on “adding a new family member

  1. I completely understand all of your considerations. I am also very jealous, I miss my dog but we are about to have building work done and don’t want to add a puppy to that equation!! I hope that you come to a decision soon xx

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