Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rescue Me

Yesterday marked two months since our dog Sarah went to heaven. Bess still asks on a nearly-daily basis when Sarah is coming home, so I suspect that she isn't ready for another dog yet. If you ask her, she'll tell you she wants a puppy, but what kid doesn't? I don't think that really has anything to do with an actual desire for another dog. As for me, part of me wants another dog to fill some of the empty space, and part of me knows that no other dog will ever fill the space left by Sarah and it would be unfair to me, and to the dog, to even try right now.

Our dog Chryssi is another story. She has been horribly depressed since Sarah left. She doesn't know what to do with herself. In or out? Sleep in bed, in the crate, on the couch, on the chair, on the floor? Where do I eat? She still hangs out in Sarah's crate at least 50% of the time. Partly I think she specifically misses Sarah: Sarah was pure alpha dog and Chryssi is happiest at the bottom of the pecking order, so they were a match made in heaven. But partly I think she is one of those dogs who really likes having canine companionship. She doesn't really spend a lot of time alone, and we have the cats to keep her company when the humans are out, but I think she is really longing for another dog.

So I have begun pondering the possibility of adding another dog to our family. Sarah, as wonderful as she was, was a lot of work. I mean, a lot. She had to be crated when we left (even to go to the mailbox) because if she wasn't she'd eat herself nearly to death. In fact, all things edible had to be locked up like Fort Knox, and let me assure you that if there was ever a breach in security we were made to pay very dearly for it. She was hyper, even until just a few months before her death, and she barked all the time. She was high-maintenance. I love her, but I do not have room in our family for such a labor-intensive dog right now. I want a mellow, easy-going dog, the kind of dog who only eats food you put in her bowl. One who is good with kids, cats and other dogs, and who doesn't require a lot of coat maintenance. And speaking of coats, I don't think I could handle a dog that requires outerwear. It's enough work getting the kids dressed to go out in the winter, I don't want to have to dress anyone else, especially a dog who may potentially go out twenty or so times a day. I want a dog who is sturdy and can go on hikes, but doesn't require an outrageous amount of exercise. A puppy is utterly out of the question on both practical and philosophical grounds. I don't want to deal with the nipping, chewing and house training, and I would rather give a home to an adult dog who needs one rather than adopting a cute lovable puppy who will be snatched up in an instant. And as for buying a puppy - let me just say, over my dead body.

I've often thought that I'd love a greyhound, but I think they require outerwear, and I'm not sure they would pass in the sturdy department. I like German Shepherds but they have a lot of coat - and probably too much in the brains department too. I don't really like little dogs, though the idea of a beagle has crossed my mind. But the truth is that we're probably lab people for life. The key is getting one of those big lazy ones instead of the wiry ones who bounce off the walls. I know that when the time is right a dog will find us who is right for our family. In the meantime, maybe I won't take Sarah's crate down just yet.

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