Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fun, Sun, and Puppies??

For the past 32 years or so, I have been very conflicted. I can never make up my mind about anything. And when I do, and I am set on a decision, it often turns out to not be the best one.

For example, we went to Mexico for our honeymoon. I was set on a room where you could walk out to the pool. No changing my mind. We get there and the room smelled like mildew. We didn't complain or make them switch rooms, so every time we came back from somewhere it hit us again. Bad decision. (That being said, I was also set on NOT going to Mexico for our honeymoon, and let someone change my mind. Should have stuck to my guns.) After talking to a couple of people, I found out that a lot of the poolside rooms on the first floor had this problem.

I can't think of any other really good examples right now of where I should have not listened to my gut, but I know there are tons in my past. The reason why I am bringing this up now, is that there are a couple of things I would like to do, but can't decide if I should or not. And if I do, am I making the right decision? And if it is wrong, will it just be another example of how I am an idiot?

Firstly, we are looking at taking a vacation. My friend at work was looking at deals on resorts and found this one in Puerto Rico, and mentioned it to us. My other friend mentioned it to her husband, who did all the research and really wants to go. But she is kind of iffy on leaving her kids. So I mention to Workaholic that she wants us to go on vacation with them, and he has decided that we are going. Which sounds great, right? But it is still going to cost money, and then I think that maybe for that much money, where else could we go and have more fun? Is this resort the one we want to go to? Are there any others for as good a deal or are better? Should we go someplace where the airfare is less and we can get a direct flight? See my dilemma??

The other thing I cannot make a decision on is actually a major life change. Getting another dog. I am not sure I am up for it, but I also would really like a younger dog to keep Fonz healthy and active, as well as hope that he can impart some of his wisdom on the new addition. Plus, I have realized since Sampson joined the house that I love it when the dog, cat, kids, and boy are all together and we are one big happy family. Another dog would just make us a little bigger and happier. But here are my issues...

I want a Flat-Coat Retriever. I saw them first while watching the Westminster Club dog show a few years ago. They look like Fonz, but black. And the AKC standard for their character is this...

As a family companion he is sensible, alert and highly intelligent; a light-hearted, affectionate and adaptable friend. He retains these qualities as well as his youthfully good-humored outlook on life into old age. The adult Flat-Coat is usually an adequate alarm dog to give warning, but is a good-natured, optimistic dog, basically inclined to be friendly to all.

The Flat-Coat is a cheerful, devoted companion who requires and appreciates living with and interacting as a member of his family. To reach full potential in any endeavor he absolutely must have a strong personal bond and affectionate individual attention.

Umm...sound like anyone we know???? (hint...his name is Fonz)

Let me be clear...I am not getting a replacement dog. I am not preparing myself for the inevitable day that my Fonz leaves me for the Rainbow Bridge. I simply believe that I am a good home, and now is a good time to add to our family, in the furry friend sense. (as opposed to the two-legged variety)

However, last month, I stumbled across a website of a breeder that I had found a few years ago and realized that she has a litter planned for this year, puppies would be ready in April. Perfect timing!! And then I called her...

Basically, she told me that since I have 2 small children and do not have a fenced in yard, I would be a terrible home. She was afraid that my children would "traumatize" a puppy. And she somehow got in her head that I am anti-invisible fence, since Fonz is boundary trained and doesn't require fencing of any kind to stay in his yard. (Yes, I realize this sounds unbelievable, but he is. I would be more than happy to install invisible fencing at our home. And at the cottage.) This woman made me cry and also made me afraid to contact any other breeders.

But let me tell you something...I am a KICK ASS home. Here is why...

1) Someone is home all day. Either me or the girls' caregiver. (Who happens to love dogs, and puppies) Not many people can say that. Who aren't stay-at-home moms. With small children. Who can traumatize puppies by touching them.

2) I used to teach puppy kindergarten. Which means that I know all about clicker training and positive reinforcement, as well as STRONGLY believe in puppy kindergarten as well as agility and other obedience classes to increase the bond between dog and owner. Oh yeah, Fonz is an AKC Canine Good Citizen as well. And, I am still in contact with my old trainer. Even though I moved away. So any questions could easily be answered with an e-mail or phone call.

3) I used to do agility with Fonz. And I would like to with this new dog, seeing as how Fonz has arthritis that I don't want to aggravate by having him jump all the time.

4) I would also like to train this new dog to be a therapy dog, to use with children. Oh wait...will children in hospitals traumatize a well-trained adult dog??

5) We have a cottage. On a lake. That we go to EVERY weekend. With friends who not only LOVE dogs, but love MY dog. Who think that my dog is kick-ass. And awesome. And think that I deserve all the credit for making him as well-behaved and awesome as he is. (BTW...I do.)

6) I have a big yard, both at home and at the lake. While it is true that neither yards are fenced, and cannot be, I believe in responsible dog ownership as well as safety, and would install an underground fence to keep my new dog safe.

7) When I go on vacation, I don't board my dogs. I have family or friends take care of them. Sounds like such a small thing, but it is just an example of how I take care of my pets.

8) My best friend? Is a vet. As in veterinarian. As in...I have a vet on-call should anything terrible happen. (you know, with the small children) Even if my best friend wasn't a vet, the clinic where I take Fonz and Sampson know me because I take such good care of my pets. Bi-annual blood work, x-rays to check for arthritis and hip dysplasia, and yearly dentals. Again, I am awesome.

So Gail, you seem to have the utmost confidence in yourself and why wouldn't you just contact another breeder to see if you can get a Flat-Coat from them?

Here is my response to that...I am not even sure I should get a purebred dog. I know all about the bill in Missouri that shuttered the doors to hundreds, if not thousands of (puppy mill) breeders. There are millions of dogs out there that need a home as awesome as mine. And I have even found a couple online that I am not entirely opposed to meeting.

I am afraid, however, of getting a rescue that I cannot make my own. Who may come with their own special set of issues that I cannot change. And I know it is silly, and Jennifer would kill me for saying it, but I just feel in my heart that getting a puppy where I can start from scratch is the best for me and my family.

That being said, this breeder traumatized me. And I am scared of being told NO again. I know that Flat-Coats are not just black Golden Retrievers. I truly believe that Fonz has the heart and personality of a Flat-Coat more than he does of a Golden. That (and health) is the most important to me. I think that getting another Golden would just set me up for disappointment.

Flat-Coat breeders are like many other breeders of lesser-known pure bred dogs, notoriously protective of their dogs. Not that this is a bad thing. Unless you are a good home who is being told no.

With all that other fear is that I am inherently lazy. Would I really do what it takes to make a new puppy a great dog?

For that answer to that, I can thank my parents.

They bred into me the fear of doing something wrong.

I know how high the stakes are for proper training and early socialization. And so I know that I would do what it takes. Getting up early, forsaking an hour or two of sleep to go to class or take a walk. Or run. Maybe this dog will get me to run. Maybe this dog will inspire me to get into shape.

Here is my utmost fear...that I will make the wrong decision. That I go through the process of finding a good breeder and getting a puppy and realizing it was somehow a mistake. Or that I decide to get a rescue and wish that I had gone with a puppy. My past experience with myself where I set my mind to something seems to lead only in disappointments. A trip doesn't go as planned, weekend plans have to be changed due to unavoidable circumstances, or an afternoon shopping trip has to be aborted. (Yes, the last thing can and has ruined my day...of course, that was pre-Pristiq.) I think I just get my hopes so high that things will go the way that I want, and I am not sure how to handle it if they don't.

I have wanted another dog for years. For the first time in a long time, I am looking seriously at the possibility. I have done my research on Flat-Coats, reading books and websites and going to the IKC dog show in Chicago to talk to breeders. I just wish that I had the confidence to make a decision and stick with it and be confident that it is the right decision. I am not exactly sure where I am going with all of this, as I say in many of my blog posts. Any suggestions? What should I do, dear readers??? Help a girl out!


paige said...

I'd say never get a dog for another dog unless they are both puppies and grow up together. I've done it both ways and it works best when there's not one old and one young.
I'm also wary of puppies and babies. I love puppies so much but I also know that if it comes down to puppy being safe and baby not being in trouble lots of moms choose "baby didn't do anything wrong" and it's the puppy's fault it bit baby. But having said all that, you're a good mom to both your kids AND your dog. I respect your love for your dog and I think you'd love a new puppy and it would have a great life.
I say do it - but do it for you.

Long winded. Sorry.

Gail said...

Paige, you are totally right. If I got another dog, it would absolutely be for me. I mean, I believe kids should be raised with pets, but I know that I am the one to do all the work, which also means reap most of the reward. I love the bond I have with Kabo, and want that with another dog.
As far as babies and puppies...One of the things that Sam knows is "If he bites you, it is your fault." We used to tell her that all the time when she would pull Kabo's tail or even get that "look" in her eye. Now she hears it all the time with Sampson...she likes to carry him. It is all a learning curve. And it has made both Kabo and Sampson better animals, learning how to be patient with her. Of course, we closely monitor them to make sure she isn't too rough, and he always has the option to run. He can definitely outrun her!
All I gotta say is, my new puppy would be the best socialized pup, with maybe the exception of Laura!

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

Um.... you've convinced me you have the most perfect home in America for a dog.

(I would say the whole world, but I'm assuming Swedes kick our butt in owning dogs. It just seems true.)

If you truly want one (and it certainly sounds like you do) then GET ONE! The reasons that seem to be holding you back are just fear. Which is somewhat reasonable after that crazy lady. But don't let her get you down, people who breed dogs are just as likely to be insane as the general population, so you have to assume lunatics are out there - don't let that change your behavior.

Also? This advice is obviously quite biased, as I'm quite a pro-dog gal.

Pamela Gold said...

I say...let your husband plan this trip. You just sit back,put your feet up and get on the plane when he tells you to.

The dog? First, I think the breeder is making this breed of dog sound like snobs. Do you want a snob dog? Sounds like she's just not the right breeder for you. You have a kick ass background and an even kicker ass home(s). Find a breeder worth your while and get this dog. I agree 100% that adopting a dog in need of a home is going to cause a slew of issues you're not ready for. Now expand your family!

Amber Page Writes said...

I say go for it. You obviously know what you're getting into. You've done your research. You know what you're looking for. And you're prepared to train...

Babies, shmabies. I think the two go together just fine.

And hello? Someone home all day? Is paradise for a dog.

Leila said...

Sounds like you have considered the points that breeder brought up and have an answer for them. You sound very responsible in both your animal and child parenting. So you should follow your desires and look for a dog. Don't write off all rescue dogs either as having issues. I have a friend who got a standard poodle and another who got a Scottish Terrier both as puppies, both from rescues. They are both healthy and happy dogs!