kinds of drugs and its side effects

Friday Focus: Single-dog Households

Not long ago, my friend Joan told me that her dachshund, Lucy, was depressed, so she got her a puppy to keep her company.

Only if you consider annoyance better than depression — and spending more money on vet bills for the new dog than, say, a year of doggie day care might have cost — could this have been deemed a good idea.

In general, getting your dog a dog is not an ideal way to deal with canine discontent.

For one thing, it doesn’t address the basic problems that created the first dog’s unhappiness, such as lack of exercise and high-quality human attention. If you depend on the enforced friends to play with each other to the point of exhaustion while you’re away or even to satisfy their basic social urges, you’re likely to be sadly disappointed. Dog math theorem: Two discontented dogs equal more than double the trouble of one.

Which raises the basic question:Β  Did you really want another dog or did you just assume your first dog did?

I have the opposite problem:Β  When I am tempted to get another dog — as I often am, such as after this week’s post about saving seniors —Β  I squelch those adoption urges because I know Frankie would be very unhappy.

Or maybe that’s just an excuse.

I don’t doubt that Frankie would be distressed if I brought home a “friend” for him, at least initially. He does not take kindly to other dogs infringing on his territory, or taking any of my attention away from him. Or to other dogs, period.

Frankie getting ready to... well, read the post

And when Frankie is unhappy, I’m unhappy.

But, what with his shyness and diabetes, Frankie is pretty high maintenance. Taking care of him is expensive and time consuming. Do I mind? On some occasions, sure, but in the general scheme of things, not in the least. He gives back far more than he takes.

Still, I wonder if I’m using Frankie’s skittishness as an excuse for mine.

I’m curious: Has anyone who has been ambivalent about getting another dog because of an unsocial/special needs first dog taken the plunge? How did it work out?

And: Is it okay to be a single-dog household — or is it selfish, when there are so many dogs out there to be saved?

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66 Comments

  1. Posted September 24, 2010 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Well, I got in trouble for saying it once before over on Dog Star Daily, but I’ll say it again.

    Many dogs doesn’t need other dogs to have a “complete” life. Some might, especially if they spent a lot of their adolescence with other dogs, but many do not.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      I think the crowd who comes here is far less contentious (or wussy). We’ll see….

  2. Posted September 24, 2010 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I only have one dog at the moment. It’s not because she’s unsocial, though now that you bring up Frankie’s issues I’m wondering how she would respond to a new dog in her territory, it’s mostly because of lack of space. We only have a small house and we share our backyard with our neighbours. Shiva, our dog, takes up a lot of our time and energy. I don’t know that it would be fair to anyone to bring in a new dog with our current lifestyle. One day I hope to share our home with multiple dogs but now doesn’t feel like the right time. Is that selfish? I don’t think so. I think it would be more selfish to adopt a dog when we may not be able to take care of him or her properly.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Thank you for weighing in here. You’re right, each situation has to be judged on its own merits and your decision is clearly suited to your current circumstances.

  3. Pauses4paws
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    My pooch has two cats for siblings. Pooch was my last rescue, so they had to accept HIM or give me the “what for” and boot him. Luckily, they did accept pup, somewhat grudgingly (maybe it was the cast he was sporting that won them over πŸ˜‰ ), but with only the occasional paw-swipe across the nose (pup taunts them sometimes–since he’s 1/2 their size I’d think he’d be a little more careful but nope, he’s “Mr. Bigshot” with the sibs). Would I house 3 pets at the same time, again (same or different species)? Not likely. It’s a lotta work. Do I love all three of mine rediculously? Yup. Although, I’m really glad my pooch has “sibs” to boss around when I’m not there—he’d need daily doggie daycare if he didn’t have the company(that I just can’t provide during the workday), managing more than one is tough because their habits, attitudes (who gets “mom’s lap”), and diets HAVE to differ (as I’d imagine Frankie’s might even with another dog because of the diabetes). Still, it’s a difficult question ’cause if they accept each other, another pooch would add more of that “unconditional love” along with all the ensuing care, cost, and potential caos! Obviously just 2 cents worth…..take care.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      It sounds like you’ve got a wonderful interspecies household — fun of mischief and love!

      • Pauses4paws
        Posted September 24, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        Yes, mischeif, love, and “issues.” One cat eats powercords (I’ve covered them all); one eats plastic bags of any variety (lordy do I have to be careful), and the pooch really loves to chew up the cat toys (we no longer have cat toys), tissues and paper towels (mostly he just shreds them, occasionally a little ingestion)! It definitely gets to be a bit much when I think of doing “normal human things” like baking cookies (I haven’t baked in 7 years because my big cat is WAY too curious to NOT insert a paw in the dough–eeew yuck–I know where that paw has been) OR, when I have to treat one furball for something (like hairballs) and the others beg to partake in the malt-flavored goo! One very good thing is that I am consistently touched (and awed and impressed and amused) by how their personalities show up in the word. πŸ™‚

  4. Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Intriging questions. About getting a 2nd dog. I am no expert as our first dog (Kenzo) had no issues, but the second one (Viva) definitely did. So to put myself in your question’s shoes would mean I would go out and have a 3rd. As much as I would really love to do so (adopt Shiloh!) I just cannot. Viva, like Franky, is just not your every day social dog. As I got her in, it now is my responsibility to give her the best possible life. A 3rd dog at this time would have to much risc of a major setback for Viva, so it is not an option. That is not selfish as I have Viva’s interests in mind. On the contrary it would actually be selfish if I would adopt again at this point. But I am happy you asked, as it does gives me a selfish feeling thinking about Shiloh that needs help, what about that for a twisted brain?

    And on the single dog househould question. It depends on the dog. When the dog has no issues: do they really need another dog to be happy? No. Would it enrich them? Yes. So why take the risc if your dog has issues? Dogs don’t need other dogs to be happy. They are quite happy for us humans. Thats why we have such a special bond with this animal species in the first place. But yet again, I am left with that selfish feeling …

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Ah, Kenzo, we are kindred spirits, able to turn any situation into the opportunity for a guilt-fest ;-). It’s nice to have another set of shoulders to share the weight of the world!

  5. tjw003
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    I am so glad you wrote this! I, too, am struggling during this week of “adoptable” posts. I have a rescue dog who doesn’t exactly enjoy the company of other dogs. If I were to add another to the mix, I know it wouldn’t make him happy. I’ve spent three years working with him to get him to the point where he is now. I believe he’s happy now, and I don’t know that I have the time and energy to do for two dogs what I do for him. However, there is one particular dog in my local shelter that I would love to bring home right now. He’s 6 years old and had a family/home until recently. He needs to have that again. If I did though, it would be for ME, not as a companion for my dog. I know this because my dog doesn’t want a companion. I wouldn’t be able to stand it if I brought the new dog home and my dog now didn’t accept him. How could I take him back after giving him the hope of a new home? On the other hand, how stressful would it be to live in a household with two (big) dogs who didn’t get along? All this leads me to the conclusion that at least for now, a single dog household is best for us. (And I completely agree with Eric that a dog who hasn’t spent his life in the company of other dogs does not need–or even want–another dog around most of the time.)

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      I’m glad this was timely for you! It sounds like you made the right decision: Not wanting to break the 6-year-old’s heart by giving him false hope, not negating all the work you put into your first dog, and wanting a relatively stress-free life — all are very valid.

      (See, Eric, so far everyone’s completely on your side here.)

  6. Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Well maybe it’s because I was an only child and both my parents are only children that I’m totally comfortable with one dog. But that’s me. What about Sadie? Well, she, like me as a kid, has friends. She spends most days with Romeo at his house and he’s invited for slumber parties once a week or more. And, I take them for walks together. Sadie also has lots of time with Moses and Dudley, two other dogs that re more like brothers—-she and Moses and Dudley at least had to learn to be in the same room together and be relaxed because Kitty (M&Ds mom) and I take care of each other’s dogs when the other is out of town. So, Sadie does have lots of time with doggie friends and she seems to really enjoy it. When I get the urge to add a new dog to our family, which I do, I rent Romeo instead. BTW I LOVE having two dogs (or 3) in the house. It’s so much fun….when everyone is happy and healthy.

  7. Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Hi Edie and Everyone,

    Great topic to address, Edie. I’ve been part of multi-species households since I was born, essentially, and our family at one time had about 12 horses and my mother was in the adoption/foster business so we had multiple dogs, multiple cats, you get the picture. I think the answer to the question is nearly always, “it depends”.

    Right now, we have our Ellie, a rescued German Shepherd dog, and Kafka, our old cat, one betta fish, and one horse who lives in a boarding facility. When Ellie first came home, with zero social skills with either humans or dogs, I knew I wasn’t interested in bringing another dog home, but there were some temptations as her energy threatened to get the better of me. Thankfully, I resisted that temptation and placed more of my energy with hers to help her learn her social skills.

    Turns out, that while she has a few dogs she doesn’t mind playing with, left to her own devices (say, at the dog park during quiet times) she opts out of dog-dog interactions except with a few select friends, and even then has been known to go to the gate when she’s had enough socializing.

    From her initial cat-chasing behavior, she’s come to pretty much ignore the old cat, except for sometimes of course.

    I think that it’s been more useful to our relationship development that we haven’t introduced another dog into the mix. Ellie’s been with us about a year now, and she’s just now starting to show real comfort in being with us.

  8. Posted September 24, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    $30,000 dollars later, the answer is, duh, uh, no!

    Ellie, a white shepherd mix, at 2 seemed lonely, but somehow did not appreciate Buster, an older rotweiller/sharpei (sp?) mix, who came from the Angels group.Maybe it was his distemper. lots of shots later, we also discovered, some mixt breeds will not get along.

    Then, on a whim, KC was added, from the city shelter. CLUE TO self who is CLUELESS: never visit city shelter on rainy blue mondays. Now there were two males, and Ellie had her pack. KC, master escape artist, required new fencing three times. 6-ft horse fencing and double cement blocks. Oops. Add Teddybear, the lost dog of the mountains, and Ellie couldn’t handle it anymore. She repeated attacked Buster, until, two surgeries later, we had to remove him altogether and place him elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, four dogs in the house..noo..so, the new sunroom became, not the imagined long-awaited studio, but, you guessed it, a flop-house for dogs. Now there are three. The racket at night, oh, exccuuusse me, Teddy, the SINGING with the coyotes, echoes thru the house.
    visit online at: Albuquerque Judaism Examiner http://www.examiner.com/xJudaism-in-Albuquerque/diane-schmidt and this week weigh in on the politics of xenophobia

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 24, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      I’m sorry to laugh but your description of your impulse adoptions is very funny. And yes $30,000 is steep but the good karma for all those adoptions and accommodations to keeping your furry pals healthy and safe — priceless!

  9. Posted September 24, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I’ve thought about this same question often. We had an older yellow lab who spent a lot of time sleeping and lounging around, and then added 1 yr old Kelly to the family. This isn’t the reason why we got her, but I thought she might “perk up” our lab. Well, there were times that they slept near each other, but mostly she ate his food, stole his toys and annoyed him. Now Kelly is the older Only-Dog, who spends a lot of time sleeping and lounging around. I’ve thought again about adding another dog to the family. But I don’t think she wants to share the attention. Or her toys or food! So when she looks bored, I take her on more walks. She loves walks! That being said, I think maybe adopting two dogs at the same time might work. I think most dogs probably enjoy other dogs’ company. But if we love them, as I know you do with Frankie, and I do with Kelly, they can still be very very happy and totally content.

    • Posted September 25, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Peggy,

      Your post reminded me of two of our dogs, Sara and Dallas. Dallas came into the household when Sara was about 4. They were together for 10 years with us. When Sarah died, we worried about Dallas, but, well, Dallas seemed very happy and content without bossy old Sarah. I think they only tolerated each other all those years…

  10. ABheartsPAWS
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I think it is fine to be a one dog home. But why would you want to be??? πŸ™‚

    This is quite timely for me as well. I have been thinking (ok planning on) getting a new dog. Another dog. And in full disclosure this is 90% for me and 10% for my dog. I want another one. Period. But… my dog has some issues. She is extremely shy of people but LOVES other dogs. She is very playful (actually can be annoying to both dog and human) and can be high energy. I think when she spends time with well adjusted dogs it actually has a positive effect on her. I would obviously need to get a no-issue dog but think (maybe I’m delusional) that the additional cost of a second dog would be offset by the $ I currently spend on daycare and would no longer need to do. Fingers crossed. I do wonder sometimes if she would really like to have another dog around.

    When I first got her she hid under the sink as she was afraid of everything. EVERYTHING except dogs. She is now comfortable at home. She’ll still bark at my boyfriend and strangers but she will also lay on her back on the couch for a belly rub. It is fabulous that she is now settled and happy in her home. So, how would she feel about a sibling in her home? I don’t know. But lucky for me we will find out soon enough.

    The only thing stopping me from getting another dog right now is that in a month or so I will be dog-sitting one of her friends for about 6-8 weeks. Definitely no room for 3 dogs in my small play! This could be a good gauge as to how she would like it and if she would still need daycare (he is way less energy than her).

    Basically, I have no answers. Hopefully in a few months. πŸ™‚

  11. Posted September 24, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I’m thrilled to read all these comments from people trying to make choices that work for their dogs. This really is an individual decision. Good post–but you really gotta work on that guilt!

    I’m totally selfish in my desire to have multiple dogs. I hate being dog-free when one of mine passes on. But I’m not so selfish that I’ve acted on that desire. My last two (solo) dogs would not have tolerated a canine friend.

    However, I did adopt Honey the golden retriever so I could bring other dogs into the house later (whether strays, foster dogs, or guide dog puppies) without lots of stress. I’ve been raising HOney from the very beginning to be comfortable with other dogs. Knowing that I want to be around dogs led me to bring the dog into my life that would allow me more flexibility.

  12. Posted September 24, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I come down squarely in the “it depends” camp. This is clearly a case-by-case issue, and everyone must decide for him or herself what is best. That said, I strongly suggest anyone considering adopting an additional dog introduce the new dog to the existing dog first (I will be publishing an article related to this on October 1, as it happens, and will post the link here when it’s up). In a perfect world, you would foster the dog for a short period without committing to adopting him or her, so you could see if your existing dog’s life is enhanced or not.

    Regardless of what you decide, make sure you know WHY you are doing this. If you’re doing it for you, be honest about it (as several of the previous commenters are — kudos!). If you’re doing it because you think your dog is lonely, be sure you aren’t projecting your views on your dog, who may prefer having your undivided attention.

    One final note: if you are getting a second dog because your dog has separation anxiety, you should know that in most cases adding another dog to the household does not help with separation anxiety at all.

    • Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      “In a perfect world, you would foster the dog for a short period without committing to adopting him or her, so you could see if your existing dog’s life is enhanced or not.”

      That’s exactly what I did when I got Penny! I took Lola with me and signed a contract that allowed me to take Penny home for 2 weeks as a foster to make sure the two would get along and also to make sure she would actually make for a good therapy dog. Penny met both criteria.

    • Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      So agree with everything you said Irith!

      Well, except for the separation anxiety thing. Daisy used to pace for hours when I was gone on my dog walking and pet sitting rounds. Now she and Jasper play or sleep together while I am gone. Maybe it wasn’t the classical definition of separation anxiety in my case?

      • Posted September 25, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        Classical separation anxiety actually relates to a particular person, but separation anxiety comes in many forms. There are some dogs whose anxiety has to do with being without companionship and those dogs don’t care what type of companionship they get. For some reason, though, it seems like most dogs with severe separation anxiety are attached to a particular person or to having some human (any human) around.

        For the “simply lonely” type, adding a dog can help, but for the “want a human” type, adding a dog doesn’t reduce the anxiety, and you can actually wind up with more destruction since the first dog’s anxiety tends to rub off on the second dog.

        The odds that adding a dog will help are low enough that I don’t normally recommend it as a solution to separation anxiety. I hope that makes sense. I’m thrilled to hear that it worked in your case, anyway!

        • Posted September 26, 2010 at 6:01 am | Permalink

          It does make sense. Thank you so much for explaining! I think in Daisy’s case it was loneliness. Jasper engages her and they will play tug of war, keep away, etc. (I never even knew she knew how to play until I caught them playing in the backyard while I was mowing the front yard!).

          I think if it was separation anxiety she certainly would have passed it on to Jasper, but he shows no signs of being nervous when I leave at all.

          I am so glad you explained this!

          • Edie Jarolim
            Posted September 26, 2010 at 6:18 am | Permalink

            And thank you both Mel and Irith for having such a helpful conversation on my blog! I love it that this topic generated a conversation about training that was so elucidating.

          • Posted October 1, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

            Late, late reply from me: Glad I could help!

  13. Posted September 24, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with a single dog household. People only have one dog for various reasons — time, money, space (at least for big dogs). I’m sure there are other reasons. I certainly cannot afford another dog but I may foster a greyhound because the need is so great. Fostering a dog is the way to go to see if a household wants or is compatible to having another dog.

  14. Posted September 24, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Ahhh, THE temptation! I’m glad I’m not the only one who endures it!

    Many years ago I had a LabX who went to visit seniors at a care facility. As she grew older I adopted another dog to take over the job. We were all younger in those days. The two dogs worked well, were both sociable and were good friends.

    Now I have a dog rescued from a puppy mill where she was a breeder dog for about 8 years. She lived, as far as I know, in a compound with 40 or so other dogs. I presume she had to fight for food, for safety sometimes. When other dogs are around she “disappears” into herself. So no second dog this time. I’m also older and not so mobile as I once was.

    As someone else said, it all depends. But it IS such a temptation to add another cutie!

    • Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Barbara – How interesting that you should also have a breeding dog from a puppy mill named Daisy too. Mine is a Yellow Lab and was a breeding dog for 4 years. I think she also had to fight for food, based on her many scars. All I can say is you Daisy is a lucky girl to have you all to herself.

  15. Posted September 24, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    We got our first dog, Mickey, a buddy, Kayloo. Mickey was super excited… and then super TICKED that she didn’t leave. He got over it eventually and now they are good buds. They chew on and play with each other… I love having 2 dogs πŸ™‚

    We got our 2nd when she was 2 1/2 months and our 1st was 5 months old… so there was double the puppy stuff. And by “stuff”… you know what I’m talking about. It was a lot of work at first, but now we tell people having a 2nd dog is about 20% more work (have to negotiate 2 leashes, keep an eye on 2 dogs etc, etc).

    For us, a 2nd pup was the right decision. Wouldn’t have it any other way πŸ™‚

  16. Posted September 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    We had our first dog (as adults) for a year before we added a second. It was really something my husband wanted, and I can remember actually crying because I feared getting a second dog would mean my first wouldn’t need me or love me as much.

    Now, for us, two is definitely the norm and the limit. We nearly added a third when Lilly’s best, best dog friend needed a new home, but that definitely would have been the case of getting our dog a dog. I’m glad we chose not to, even though it was hard at the time.

    Our original dog spent another year as an only dog after our second dog died somewhat suddenly, and by then we were worried that in her old age a new dog would be too much, but she ADORED Ginko when we brought him home.

    And, after she died, Ginko was absolutely LOST without her. So, we adopted Lilly much earlier than my heart was ready because Ginko so desperately needed a pal.

    Once Ginko is gone, we’ll have to see. With Lilly’s less-than-social issues, it might be hard to find a dog she’d accept. BUT, I hope so … because I personally think 2 dogs is the perfect number for us.

    As for you and Frankie? It sounds to me like you guys are just fine the way you are.

    Have a nice weekend!

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 26, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      Thank you on all counts: for your story, your encouragement, and your weekend wishes.

  17. Edie Jarolim
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Belatedly — thank you all for your thoughtful comments. I’m always awed and grateful that the people who turn up here are so articulate in describing their particular situations and the decisions that result from them while remaining nonjudgmental about the decisions that others make. What a cool virtual community!

    Irith, I appreciate your professional opinion on this and hope you remember to send the link to your article on the topic.

    Pamela, would that establishing a guilt-free zone were more effective for me! But, like Frankie, I’m a work in progress — and always glad when someone tries to “train” me. Maybe someday it will sink in!

  18. Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    When I got Penny, I already knew that Lola didn’t like to have new dogs in the house because I had fostered several dogs for the Humane Society. So, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. I wanted Lola to be able to at least tolerate the new dog at first and grow to like her after having several months to get to know her.

    I brought home Penny and, well Penny LOVED Lola- Lola put up with Penny at first, but now I think she takes comfort in having her around. The same cannot be said of Winnie and the other two dogs. They really almost have no relationship at all- but it doesn’t matter because Winnie spends her day in her chihuahua chair in the kitchen (she has valley fever and sleeps alot), and the other two by choice sleep upstairs all day- probably on my bed!

  19. Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    dear ms jarolim, hello again!

    i don’t know if you’ve read my story, but i am the 2nd dog that got brought into my family. after mr piglet died. mr thumper got very depressed and didn’t eat or sleep for many weeks, so my humans decided to see if he would like some company. they went to many rescues and i am the only one mr thumper liked so i got to come home with them.

    after i got home, mr thumper decided he didn’t like me so much after all. i had to be really clever and nice to get him to accept me. i was only 8 months old then, and he was already 9 [years] so maybe i was too bouncy for his arthritic legs. but 18 months later, he now knows who’s boss and it isn’t him so we get along famously.

    funnily enough, mr thumper was also the 2nd dog to be brought into the family when HE was adopted from the pound at 8 months old. mr piglet, who was the 1st dog back then, was very understanding and kind. but to get things to work out between them, mr thumper had to get an extra hormone jab from the vet. although they were both Big Dogs, they only ever fought once in the 8 years they lived together. no one, including the lady at the pound thought they would be friends, but they were.

    i think i will soon be a single dog as mr thumper is very poorly these days. and my humans don’t intend to get me a new housemate since i have lots of doggie friends and “am a handful”, whatever that means. but it’s always hard to plan these things, so who knows? i may yet get a new brother or sister one day.

    have a nice weekend : ) xox

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 26, 2010 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      Thanks for coming by again, Georgia. You know how to win over hearts and minds, that’s for sure. I remember that Mr. Thumper was doing badly and I’m sorry. I hope you keep your humans occupied with your antics so they won’t be so very very sad when nature takes its (very very sad) course.

      • Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        dear ms jarolim,

        thank you for remembering me and mr thumper. yes, i’m keeping my humans very busy indeed. anything to keep their spirits up : ) xox

  20. Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I would never accuse anyone that doesn’t bring a second dog into their household for any reason of being selfish. I think it is a very good thing to take stock of both your life and your dog’s life before deciding on whether or not to bring another dog into the household. Each new dog that is brought into a household changes the dynamic between both humans and dogs.

    As you know I added a fourth dog (Elbee) to my household in February of this year and it was not by choice. Elbee was a stray and in bad shape when we found him and I knew what would await him in our local shelter system. My wife and I both knew the probability was that unless we found a stellar home for Elbee ourselves, he would not be leaving us. We spoke at length about the changes that would take place and the stress he would place on our other three dogs. The stress has been real and the challenges both practical and financial have been felt. But for all the things Elbee has cost us in time, stress, mess, and money, he has paid us back 10 fold.

    I heartily applaud those who take the time to really think about how any animal additions to their household will affect the household dynamic. I should think the people that take the time and effort to consider this will provide the happiest homes for dogs- be it one dog or many!

    • Posted September 25, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Beautifully said, Kevin!

      Elbee is lucky he ran into such wonderful people.
      πŸ™‚

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 26, 2010 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      As you’ve proved, Kevin, sometimes the best laid plans of mice and pet owners go awry — and bring us gifts. For all that it wouldn’t have been your choice, your decision to take Elbee in was nevertheless a careful one, made with the other members of your household who get to vote (luckily we don’t have interspecies democracies). Sometimes love does conquer all; all the best of luck in getting balance back in all your lives.

  21. Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    What a great post Edie (as witnessed by the huge number of responses)! I’ll be honest. I am a one dog person. Always have been. I like having one dog to dote on. I like being able to walk together, just me and my dog, and bond over nature.

    When I hear people say they want to get a 2nd dog to keep the other dog company or to give them a buddy, I cringe. Many an optimist has gotten a dog for the other dog only to discover that it did not go as planned. Sadly, I’ve seen many people get a 2nd dog and then decide it is too much work and dump the older dog at the shelter. It makes me furious (as you can imagine).

    So as I write this I have one dog sleeping near me on the floor, and the other one sleeping in her kennel in the other room. Two dogs. Yup. A one dog person with two dogs. It happens. πŸ™‚

  22. Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I missed your first question: Has anyone who has been ambivalent about getting another dog because of an unsocial/special needs first dog taken the plunge? How did it work out?

    Yes. I got Jasper (after fostering him) because Daisy seemed to do better having another dog around, and because a woman I knew who fostered numerous puppy mill dogs recommended it. I was ambivalent and resistant to the idea being a one dog person. Best decision I made. In the year and a half since Jasper came, Daisy has made huge strides in almost every way. She’s happier, more outgoing and less jumpy. And, Jasper has made our family complete.

  23. Hilary Lane
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Love this discussion! I did end up with two rescue dogs–thought my dog Frisbee would be more social with other dogs if I got him one to live with. Same story as many folks. Luna came as a puppy (Frisbee would only accept submissive female puppies) with her own set of issues. Now I know that each of them would be much happier as only dogs. They both relax when I take one out with me. They tolerate each other, but they don’t really care one way or another about each other.

    So, to me, there’s no cut and dried answer; many people get seconds, thirds, or more pets for themselves instead of really knowing whether their only pet would be happier with or without. It sure works out in some households–and I’m a little jealous about that!

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 26, 2010 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      Think of it this way, Hilary. Each of them would be far less happy if they had not been rescued at all!

  24. Posted September 25, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s normal to be cautious when considering the option of adding a 2nd dog to a special needs dog household. I use the term “special needs” in reference to Frankie’s diabetes and the extra care when it comes to diet, blood glucose level monitoring, and exercise routines and not to the extra love and attention that all dogs crave and on occasion ‘demand”. πŸ˜€

    I know when I was caring for my diabetic cat, I was always aware of possible stress inducers whether it came from the outside (having too many visitors coming over) or from within (my overzealous younger cat playing too rough and doing the typical kitty body slams with her diabetic sister).

    As always, I think that if you weigh the positives versus the negatives of adding a new face into the family tree you will come up with the “right” decision for both you and Frankie (and of course for the new addition whomever he/she might be).

    Sometime you just have to go with your “gut” feeling when you happen to see that “perfect” dog that has that special connection with you, but it’s good to know that you’ve also put some time and thought into it beforehand as well.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 26, 2010 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      Thanks for reminding me that stress is not good for Frankie for physical as well as psychological reasons, that introducing a stressor undermines the time and effort I put into keeping Frankie’s blood sugar regulated. My gut feelings are sometimes suspect. Twice I’ve fallen for little black furry dogs in shelters because “they would look so cute with Frankie, you know, ebony and ivory.” I try to say things like that out loud, knowing my friends will make fun of me.

      • Posted September 26, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Oh no…now I’m going to be humming that tune in my head all day whilst I do housekeeping chores…! πŸ˜€

        • Edie Jarolim
          Posted September 26, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          At least you’re going to do housekeeping chores — I’m impressed! I’m going straight from too much FB, Twitter, and blog time to a wine tasting πŸ˜‰

  25. Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    First, what’s wrong with being selfish? I hope I am … Dog knows, I work hard at it. Because if I can’t make myself happy, how am I going to make another happy …

    THE ONLY REASON (at the time) we adopted Buster was because we knew he would be put down if we didn’t. We found him on Memorial Day weekend, shelters were full, he was black. And Amy talked me into it. Edie, you are dead on about the vet bills. Buster started getting seizures. Had a bad reaction that put him in the hospital for 3 days and $2500. Led to us moving out of a house I liked in Philly to a house I tolerated in the Poconos. And to top it all off – Ty hates Buster. Never wanted a dog brother.

    All that said, Buster has turned out to be a great dog. He ended up being the cause/inspiration for GoPetFriendly. Everything happens for a reason. But that reason doesn’t have to start with guilt about whether your first dog needs a second dog for company. I imagine SOME people get the second dog because they’re lazy. They hope the two dogs will keep each other busy so the human doesn’t have to do what’s necessary to keep the first dog happy. In which case, not only should they not get a second dog, they should find a better home for the first dog!

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 26, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      I like your take on selfishness!

      And wow — that’s quite a story about Buster. And here I thought he was your favorite πŸ˜‰ (just kidding, sort of; it’s just that Ty is the “problem child,” while Buster is the easier, more outgoing dog). But you’re right about things happening for a reason. If Frankie hadn’t gotten diabetes I wouldn’t have written Am I Boring My Dog, started blogging, etc.

      I do think trying to find a better home for the first dog is a bit drastic, especially for people who care enough to want to get a second dog for their first dog, albeit misguidedly. Things like doggie day care, doggie playdates etc. are much better solutions.

    • Posted September 30, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      Rod – I think you hit that one on the head. In many cases, I think it is because they want to keep the other dog busy so they don’t have to do all the things a dog owner has to do with a dog.
      Although, I heard a lady say in the pet store today that she was about to get a 3rd dog because her middle dog has never been without a companion and her older dog was nearing it’s end time. I was thinking… How do you know the middle dog wouldn’t revel in the one-on-one time with you? Getting a 2nd dog for the first (or middle) is not always the answer. Not that it’s wrong, but I think we sometimes assume what our dogs want without really knowing.

  26. Posted September 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    I wanted a second dog with Jasper because our relationship felt too intense to me and I wanted it leavened by another female. Well Bryn turned up and has offered me a lot of challenges of her own.
    Jasper, who is naturally a submissive dog, is very respectful of her space, which can be awkward when he wants to go out and she is standing by the back door. Or when I want him to come in and she is standing by the back door.
    I don’t think Bryn could have lived with another dog, and though Jasper acts as if he is cowed, he must like her because he is always alert to protect Bryn from the cat. She doesn’t need protection as she has a perfect grasp of cat body language but Jasper got his eye scratched when he was a pup. Bryn can’t be left alone in the house for long as she will try to rip her way through the door, but she is happy with Jasper and I suspect she feels his absence more keenly than mine. You should hear the scolding he gets when I bring him home.
    I’ve written more about my experiences with 2 dog households in my own dogblog http://www.jenkirby.co.uk/Portraits/Dog_Blog/Entries/2010/9/26_Getting_a_Second_Dog.html

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted September 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Nice to see you here again, Jen, and thank you for your story. I just followed the link to your new site. It looks great and I love the portrait of Bryn you have up.

  27. Posted September 27, 2010 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Wow – holy cow look at these comments! I’ve had three dogs at one time, and found I prefer one. I’ve not had a dog that wasn’t perfectly happy being an only dog. But let me tell you, when I went through animal care and control for that stealth reporting series I really really wanted to take two of those dogs outta there. One of them still haunts me. I may yet use that seconds long video in a post and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Yes, I agree with Eric, Irith, Kevin, Mel, Hilary – it’s what we can handle, knowing our own limits. Better to be a great caregiver for one than mediocre for two. If you don’t have the time, don’t do it. If you don’t have the money, don’t do it. If you have plenty of both and you’re not sure how your dog will take to a second dog, foster a dog. That way you’re doing a good deed and getting feedback on this idea of a multiple dog household straight from the dog’s mouth;)

  28. Rebecca Boren
    Posted September 30, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I would say that you (as in a person, not Edie specifiically) should not adopt another dog to do a good deed– or at least not only to do a good deed. You adopt a second dog because there is room in your heart for a second, and because that dog will enrich your life — and the life of your number 1.
    Those who have only known me in my multiple (many, many multiple when I was doing rescue) may find this hard to believe, but I once baulked at getting a second dog. I was 30-ish and my dearly loved terri-poo Alexander was 10-ish when my mother decided I should have another dog. Her theory was that Alexander was bound to die soon, and, given how close our bond was, I would probably come completely apart when he did. Her idea was to get a replacement in place, so to speak.
    I initially refused. Partly I like to think this was unselfish — I worked a very demanding job, and had a hard enough time giving Alexander the time and attention he deserved. But partly, I think, my relucatance stemmed from the not-so-secret fact that I was afraid that another dog would take Alexander’s attention away from me!
    Then I found out that the dog my mother had already picked out for me was a 16-week-old mini schnauzer puppy who was living her life in a crate under her sire’s owner’s dining room table.
    And I figured any life I could give her was bound to be better than that.
    She arrived on a Sunday, and within an hour had given my normally gregarious Alexander fits. But when I got home from work on Monday, they were to the point of chasing each other to grinning collapse in the back yard.
    Alexander, it must be said, lived to be almost 18. And yes, he outlived my mother by half a decade. Cleo, the little orphan, had a very happy life, and lived to be 13, getting me stuck on schnauzers along the way.
    All of this is a roundabout way of saying that having two dogs is different than having one and, oops, I had better not offend the human-centric by comparing it to having two children instead of one. But the difference is not huge –two can walk together, snuggle with human, probably eat the same food.
    Still, at some point, the relationship between human and pack does fundamentally shift once the pack gets large enough to need to be treated as one. At least for me, half a dozen dogs running around the place turn into something to be managed more than companions to be enjoyed. Which may not be news to the rest of humanity.
    I am now down — for the first time in years — to *only* four dogs and I am comfortable that I am giving all of them the love and attention they deserve (with the assistance of a dog walker who takes the larger pooches out every other day). If I worked anything approaching full-time — or out of my house — I would, at least in theory and an ideal world, draw the line at three dogs.
    But two dogs? You bet. If I found the right dog — or the right dog found me.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2010 at 5:28 am | Permalink

      I don’t think you’ll find too many human-centric folks to offend here, Rebecca. Even those with children don’t seem to mind the having their dogs compared to their offspring — often favorably!

      Nice to see you back here!

      • Rebecca Boren
        Posted October 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        One postscript — and a theme I expected to see more in these posts is – the strong bonds some dogs do form with one another. When I had Alexander put down, Cleo went into a major depression — basically she hid under the furniture for three weeks, refusing to come out, not eating, etc. I adopted a puppy much sooner than I had planned, in part because I found the perfect fox terrier for me, and in part to cheer Cleo up. Nothing like puppy therapy for grief, canine and human! I am guessing here, but I suspect that fact that Cleo had been one of a pair of dogs since puppy hood played a big role in her reaction to the loss of her first buddy.

  29. Keeping_Awake
    Posted October 1, 2010 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    I’ve often been tempted to get another dog, but for me. Jessie’s complete unreliability with other dogs has never encouraged me to believe that she’d applaud the decision to get her a buddy. As I’d prefer to keep myself out of an emergency room and this mythological other dog out of the e-vet after a nasty fight, we’ve remained a one-dog household.

    I do wonder at times, however, if Jess wouldn’t have been happier with a busy young family than in a one-person home. She adores people and it seems to be impossible to give her too much human attention. I’m much less tempted to adopt some kids for Jess to horse around with though, so this is more of an occasional late-night guilt trip for me than a problem that I feel needs solving for Jessie’s sake, πŸ˜‰

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 1, 2010 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      Have you considered opening a day-care center in your home πŸ˜‰ ? I love the idea of getting kids for a dog rather than vice versa!

      • Keeping_Awake
        Posted October 1, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        No day-care on the horizon, but I do get Jess out and about where people are more than I might have bothered to do myself because she is so happy with new people. πŸ™‚

        I can’t be the only single person to realize that their dog was happiest with people and wonder if more people would make the dog happier, can I? Maybe.

        I was raised with a breed who loves people, and I see the difference in them since we kids all grew up and left home. They liked the hustle and bustle of a young family. The constant flow of friends (and attention, games and treats) in and out of the house.

        I live more of my social life outside my house, but I’ve tried to become the hostess with the mostest due to Jess. She is never happier than with a house full of people! Personally, I like everyone else to do the prep and cleanup and just show up with a bottle of wine;) but Jess has changed me there.

        I guess I have turned the ‘what would make my dog happiest’ Q on its head as Jess clearly prefers people to everything else. Look at me–a trailblazer at last! LOL

        • Edie Jarolim
          Posted October 1, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

          I’m probably lucky that Frankie dislikes people as much as he dislikes dogs — I can see myself feeling pressure to become a super hostess but not succeeding. I’m with you in the show up with a bottle of wine category! With Frankie I can indulge all my hermit-like tendencies….

  30. Posted October 1, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    In a comment above, I wrote, “I will be publishing an article related to this on October 1, as it happens, and will post the link here when it’s up.” At the editor’s behest, my article on adopting a second dog has been split into sections, and the editor is asking me to do a more extended “introductions” article next month as a follow-up to this month’s article, which has been stripped down to more of a basic adoption tips piece. Anyway, in case anyone is interested, here is the link to the October article, “Adopting a Shelter or Rescue Dog: How to Find the Right Match.”

    http://www.clickertraining.com/node/3096

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted October 2, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Sorry for the delay in posting this, Irith. It somehow ended up in my spam filter. Happy to have found it.

  31. Posted October 2, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I think that a dog can be complete happy living with just their human(s). I find that many dogs do need company of other dogs, at least temporarily (dog parks, play dates). One thing that seems to be true is that an younger dog companion will make an older dog live longer.

    We did get a dog for Jasmine and they are very happy to have each other.

    I think that with dogs it is like with people – their individual personality and needs need to be considered.

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