Choosing a Dog

Numerous dogs in my life have tugged at my heart strings. A few dogs not my own I've bonded to. And then there are the dogs that leaped into my heart when I least expected it and held on tighter than I ever imagined possible.
My first foster. The one about yanked my heart out of my chest. 

 Buzz and Bailey are an integral part of my young adult life and I adore them. I have a very different relationship with each dog because they are drastically different dogs. They've taught me so much that I have been able to share with other dogs and for that I will be forever grateful. And because of them, I knew the kind of dog I would look for when the time came. Each will always hold a very special place in my heart, which is cliche, but true.

Buzz is stable, he's structurally sound, he is vibrant, and he is so cuddly. He also loves to do all kinds of stuff, but I wouldn't call him busy. I learned that my next dog needs to be socially stable--the kind of dog you can just take anywhere. I also really enjoy the fact that he can check out when I don't want him to be working. I didn't have to teach him to leave me alone, he just knew when I'd like his company and when I wouldn't. I used to take him to the local coffee shop that allows dogs. I'd bring a mat for him to lay on and that's what he'd do. He didn't try to work. He didn't pester me. He just let me drink my coffee and relax.

Bailey is certain the whole world revolves around her and she is hilarious. She lives to do stuff and is a very busy dog (although, around age 12 she finally started settling in the house better). Her idea of a good time is to be with her people 24/7. She has gone many places with me just because it makes her so happy. I learned that my next dog needs to be up for anything, anytime, anywhere. I love most though, her innate love of interaction with her people. She loves to fetch, loves to tug, and loves to just roughhouse.

From both Buzz and Bailey, I learned that being comfortable in the car is a big deal. I do quite a bit of driving and can't stand having dogs pant in my ear (I'm looking at you in your younger years, Bailey). Being able to coexist with others happily (not just peacefully) is a key factor for me. Buzz is that dog. Bailey is not. It is something I struggled to acknowledge and accept for a long time. Once I did, I knew that I could never put another dog through the stress that she used to endure daily. I needed to choose a dog who enjoyed the company of other animals.
Golden foster Reba quickly learned how to ride in the car.

I have a list of my necessary qualities in a dog (mentally stable-enjoys cats, dogs, and people-rides well in the car), a list of qualities I don't feel as strongly about (plays with toys-goes hiking-competition dog), and the deal breakers (not friendly with cats, dogs, or people-separation anxiety-expensive medical conditions). I've done my research and spoken to numerous breeders about their dogs, their breeding programs, and their goals. I've learned as much as I can about the breed, and the different types and lines within the breed. I was so sure my next dog would be from a very carefully planned litter, from a responsible breeder, out of fabulous dogs. And it would be perfect.
Rasza is Buzz's cat.

And then I got this photo in an email about a foster home request.

I was drawn to her because she needed a lot of help. I didn't like or dislike her. When I got her, she wasn't really a dog, more like a living, breathing, rock. As we went about life getting her fixed up medically, I remember saying "she is the easiest dog I've ever lived with."

She is an agreeable dog. If she understands what I'm asking, she'll do it (despite a lack of reinforcement history). Life continued on and my boyfriend took a special interest in her, unlike my previous three fosters. He, and our friends, started making jokes about me keeping her. When I said "someone else deserves a dog this easy," he replied with "then I'll take her." That gave me pause. My boyfriend enjoys dogs, but I never really thought he'd want a dog of his own. That, coupled with the interest ESRA was starting to get in her made me look at that list.

  • Stable-check (she'd gone on vacation, stayed in someone else's home, met strange dogs, allowed grooming, and more)
  • Enjoys "doing stuff"-check (hiking, vacation, bonfires, playing in the water, etc)
  • Plays fetch and tug-check
  • Good with cats-check
  • Good with other dogs-check
  • Rides well in the car-check
  • Enjoys people-check
  • Healthy (relatively speaking, I guess)
  • Praise and play are reinforcing (from a competition stand point, I love this quality of Bailey's)
I couldn't have hand selected a better dog for myself at this point in my life. I wouldn't have known the perfect dog for me without also embracing Buzz and Bailey. Much to the pleasure of my boyfriend, and unlike my previous fosters, Gabby stayed for good.

Despite my best laid plans, this big tri-colored dog wiggled her way into my heart and held on tight. I am still amazed that she is such a perfect blend of Buzz and Bailey's traits that I adore.

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