Tuesday Topics #28 - Is Two Really Better Than One?

a large black dog, maybe a great dane, standing with his head resting down on a yellow dog companion, who is laying on the pavement, so their heads look stacked like a totem pole, it's really cuteThis is my favorite photo from the "Best Buddies" photo contest at MarthaStewart.com. Click on the link to see a slideshow of all the friendly pairings.

The photo leads me to the subject of this week's Tuesday Topic--getting a second dog. We are just LIGHTLY considering it, mind you! My family ended up really enjoying our week with Bucky, although he wasn't exactly the best match for Cabana as a playmate. But it was nice having more dog to go around. Even though Cabana was career changed for being "too much dog", she's not always ENOUGH dog for four humans! More importantly, the right dog would be a great companion for Cabana.

We could raise another puppy for Guide Dogs--but not all members of my family are into puppies (I know, how could you not be into puppies??). We also considered fostering dogs for rescue organizations. I really like this option because the need is so great--and it isn't a lifetime commitment. Personally, I enjoy the temporary nature of both raising for Guide Dogs and fostering. But my family isn't on that page with me--they don't relish the transitions and the unknowns, whereas I'm attracted to those challenges.

So we've been looking into getting a rescue dog. Surfing Petfinder.com is addicting (hi, my name is Mimi, and I'm a Petfinder addict). But do we really want a second dog? Isn't one more than enough?! Asking a friend to watch one dog isn't too difficult, but how many people would be willing to watch two? What about the expense, the vet bills, the massive amounts of dog hair, and piles the poop? I like having a clean house--isn't that going to be nearly impossible with a second dog?

I know many, if not most, of you have multiple dogs. Why, are you nuts? Any regrets? Or is it like, if you have one, you may as well have two? Strong doses of reality welcomed--lay it on me!

Emma Rose  – (June 15, 2010 at 5:38 PM)  

There are 3 dogs in our house. They keep each other company and often play chase and "bitey face". We would never consider having an "only dog" after having multiples. More bills and dog hair, yes. But the love and joy is so worth it!

The Duchess

Katlynn and Ryder  – (June 15, 2010 at 5:47 PM)  

Right now I have 4 dogs in my house, I really like having more than one dog, as I have always been a dog person. I really think adding another dog to a family is not that much more work. I think the dogs really like having a friend. Hope this helps!

Katrin  – (June 15, 2010 at 5:56 PM)  

Ok 1st thing I tell all clients considering a rescue- the #1 reason dogs are sent to rescue is for behavior problems. Most are adolescent dogs who people did not spend the time with socializing or training properly and so they come with issues. As long as you are willing to take a dog with issues and are not expecting the dog to "know we saved his life so he should be grateful!" (don't ask me how many times I have heard that stupid quote) then you are going to be a good family to adopt. Even young pups in rescues can have issues due to not being properly socialized or being taken away from littermates too early, or from the trauma of being sent to the rescue and then transported all over to get to their new home.

Rescue can be a great thing, I have had personally both great successes with rescues and great failures. But you have to go into it knowing what you are going into and not expect a fairytale.

Due to the fact that fosters for a shelters are indeed rescues, you will run into the same issues in most cases. Again as long as you are prepared to help a dog work through some of their issues in a safe and supportive training environment then fostering can be wonderful work to get into.

As to the multidog household things I personally do best with at least 2 dogs. Yes the expenses increase significantly but for me I like having the more likelyhood that I will always have at least one "back up" dog if some critical emergency happens to the other. I personally am terrified of loosing one of my dogs at any given moment. Having 2 or 3 is in some warped way easier on me for that reason. Plus I like extra dogs on the bed and lounging around my house :-)

Coreena, Eva and Charlie  – (June 15, 2010 at 6:07 PM)  

I think it's great you are considering a second dog! I think it all depends on the dogs personalities and how they get along. Rizzo and Eva are great to have together, they spend most of their day cuddling and sometimes will play tug or wrestle. Charlie with either one though does not work. Rizzo cannot stand him and he picks on Eva. So it really depends on the dogs. I'll admit it, it can be very tough, very dirty and sometimes I get overwhelmed and have to have a time-out for me, not them! But I wouldn't trade them for the world!

Mango  – (June 15, 2010 at 6:09 PM)  

Our first dog was two years old when we got our second dog and except for a six month period when Mango was an only dog, we have always been a multi dog household.

The most we had at a time was three and that was really too many for us. Two works well, but they really need to get along. When we were looking for Dexter we had Mango's needs at the top of the list. We had a failed adoption of a companion for Mango. It just wasn't working out for him. That was sad.

Two dogs aren't twice as much work, but it is more work. That said, I really like the dynamic. Even though the boys aren't cuddle buddies, they like having each other around. Mango was super depressed when Raja died. Seriously. He wouldn't run or play or anything. Dexter perked him right up.

Of course there is a selfish aspect to it as well since it means that we will hopefully never have to have a house without a dog in it (now that is a lonely thing).

Mango Momma

The Thundering Herd  – (June 15, 2010 at 6:25 PM)  

Yes - we are crazy.

Now that that is over with. We have been a multiple dog house hold for so long, we really can not imagine what a single dog house is like (or, for that matter, a 2 or 3 dog house). But . . .

Pros of multiple dogs - they entertain and exercise each other, are best of friends, and 2 really are not twice as difficult as 1.

Cons - Everything you do away from dogs is harder - finding a dog sitter, taking off for the weekend, etc. And, well, 2 dogs are 3 times as mischievous as 1.

Please email us with any questions - be glad to help you think it through.

Mandy and Cancun  – (June 15, 2010 at 6:26 PM)  

geez, Cabana's like the gateway dog - welcome to the addicting world of pet ownership!

are you close enough to foster a breeder for gdb? just a thought. of course, I selfishly want to keep you in the gdb family!

in my experience, one dog is much easier than two, especially two young ones, and then after two they tend to blend together. if two, why not three? depending on temperament, of course.

Raiser Erin  – (June 15, 2010 at 6:37 PM)  

You could do a transfer puppy for GDB. :) That way the puppy is already potty trained and all the puppy stuff is almost through. But recueing a dog is great!

I had two dogs for the longest time. For a while we had three. I like the idea of having more than one dog because if you're gone during the day there's someone there to keep the other company.

Heather and Ellie  – (June 15, 2010 at 6:42 PM)  

Oh my goodness--that's an adorable photo!! Love, love, love it. I hope it wins the contest.

I can't give you any advice on whether you should get a playmate for Cabana, seeing as I've never had two dogs. So I don't know if it's just double the work or twice the fun!

If your family doesn't want to deal with puppies (I know, how can someone not? But my family isn't that keen on little puppies either. It's just me that is) then fostering a rescue dog sounds like a great idea!

You can plan it sort of like it's a contract to hire. You find a dog that looks like a good match, then you plan to foster with the intention of adopting if it works out for your family. That way, if it doesn't work out, you can still rehome the dog with a good conscience that you didn't just adopt a dog you were planning on keeping for it's whole life then have to give it back to the shelter (I don't think they let you adopt it out if you've already adopted it. I'm pretty sure they will want to do it themselves). Phew! Ok, was that sentence a little too long? :)

Good luck, anyhow!

L^2  – (June 15, 2010 at 6:43 PM)  

I have lived with multiple dogs (as many as 4 - usually rescued dogs) for the majority of my life, and in a lot of ways having two dogs is MUCH more work than just having one. I've actually written a few blog posts on this. LOL It depends a lot on how well the two dogs' personalities mesh (and unfortunately some of the dogs I've lived with didn't end up being the greatest matches for one another and/or a multiple-dog household). But no matter how good of companions the dogs are, each dog still needs its one-on-one time with you each day. Also, in my experience, a rescued dog can sometimes be an even bigger challenge than a little puppy. More than likely a rescued non-puppy is going to have some issues that may require more effort than Cabana (who got a great start to life thanks to you) ever has. I'm not saying you shouldn't consider it - two (or more) dogs can be a lot of fun and there are many great dogs out there in need of a good home - but having two dogs definitely does require more work, expense, and time.

Carrie and Waffle  – (June 15, 2010 at 7:35 PM)  

I have always wanted to have two dogs, so I pushed to keep Waffle when she was CC'd, I thought it would be good for the next pup to experience life with other dogs, as both Tacoma and Waffle were a big wary around other dogs. the challenge has been Waffle. Let's just say she is my special girl.... so any pup that comes into the home has to be sub servant to a non-dominate dog - if that makes sense. It is hard to say if she is happier as a singleton or with a friend. She races to the kennel in the am to say hello, but is very jealous of my attention to Truffle. so before adding to your family make sure it is a match for Ms. Cabana otherwise it may not all be sweetness and light.

And yes two dogs seem to drop as much hair as four dogs.

OSU 98  – (June 15, 2010 at 8:18 PM)  

Well, as you know, I was super apprehensive about dog number two. Just like everything else in my life, I got worked up over it and it has been fine. It is a little hectic right now - transitioning foods, buying heart and flea month to month, worrying about which dog needs food...Ace is learning quickly that conformity is his only option.

More than anything, I would say to you to be sure it is what is right for you and Cabana. I agree with whoever said rescue dogs can be a challenge - there are some potentially significant behaviors that may need to be undone, and this won't happen over night. A lot of my agility friends who have MULTIPLE dogs were after me and after me to get dog 2 - but I held firm until the time was right for me (and Chel) and it has worked out. I can't imagine life without Ace...and I can't imagine having him before now. As much as Chelsie gets annoyed with him, she is often the one that engages him in submissive play...

Maddie and Betsy  – (June 15, 2010 at 8:44 PM)  

I personally enjoy having more than one dog. When I was younger we used to only have one dog, which worked for us at the time, but as my younger brother and I grew older we both developed a love for dogs, and neither of us really wanted to share. When we finally got a second dog it was really hard on our first dog because she was already 10 years old.
You also need to think about Cabana and your family. If your family wants a dog that is yours not GDBs or a shelters, you might want to look into finding a permanent pet dog. If you decide to go permanent you have to think about Cabana and find a dog that she is going to enjoy spending time with.

I don't think I told you anything you didn't already know. I think you should stick with GDB, you were a GREAT puppyraiser! Have you thought about getting a transfer puppy that is a little older. This way your family can be happy and you can enjoy raising a puppy.
Good Luck!

Mitch, Meade, and Miss J  – (June 15, 2010 at 8:59 PM)  

My family went a long time with just one dog (a rat terrier) until we rescued our second (a jack russel) we got him because we fell in love with him even though we were supposed to be finding him a home (it wasn't THAT hard) then we got involved in GDB and they all have gotten along. We do have a pecking order ordeal every once in a while but they get over it. It is fun having more than one because they have different personalities and sometimes you need a break from one of them.

Ally, Eclipse, Teddy and Kira  – (June 15, 2010 at 9:08 PM)  

You know I'm crazy! The only time our family has been without two dogs in six years was between the time when Iverson was transfered and before I got Kira. I have to say that the Best thing I could have done for Teddy was getting Kira. It just worked out this way because I was irrepsonsible and didn't introduce Teddy and Kira before bringing her home but they truly are the perfect match and enjoy each other so much. That being said, Kira is never allowed to be loose unless I'm awake, even at 6.5 years old because she has relieving issues. So in her case it's a definitely added mess and stress.

Adding Eclipse to the mix was a whole other story, Teddy and Kira tolerate him and interact with him some but the extent of it at this point is sniffing each other and maybe cleaning Eclipse's ears. He's definitely added a ton of expense along with hair but the dynamics work themselves out and it's actually quite the amazing thing to have two pups laying by your feet than just one.

Maybe you could borrow someone's older career changed pup to give you an idea of another option if there's a pup that gets career changed that you just love maybe you could open your home to another proud GDB career change ;-)

Samantha  – (June 15, 2010 at 9:30 PM)  

Big topic! And I could go on forever. Dual poop duty... dual obed. and puppy class...dealing with one or the other's issues... and the list(s) go on and on. But if you adore doggehs and you think ( extremely well socialized) Cabana would love a sibling, then of course, I say... go fur it! Big job, no doubt, but if I had to tell you the negatives of bringing
Avalon into our lives, well... there just ain't none! If she has disappeared for a moment, Sam is looking for her! It's just turned out so great! Give me a call!
Hugs xoxoox
Sammie, Av and us!

Mimi and CC Cabana  – (June 15, 2010 at 9:45 PM)  

Thanks for everyone's comments and for helping me feel less crazy about considering a second dog! If someone had told me two years ago that I would become this much of a dog person, I would have asked them what they were smoking.

Part of the issue for my family is that they don't really want another Lab (a big "harumph" from Cabana) or even a Golden. So that's why we're not considering a transfer pup or being breeder custodians.

Getting a dog that will be a good match with Cabana is #1 on our priority list. If she doesn't like him and vice versa, then what's the purpose? I can teach a dog to sit or to stay off the furniture, but I can't teach a dog to become Cabana's buddy.

Sierra Rose  – (June 15, 2010 at 9:45 PM)  

Sounds like many multiple dog families!! We would love to have another furrie pal around for Sierra Rose. We have typically had only one dog at a time, and logistically for us it works....house, camper, work schedule.... Definitely are thinking of fostering, and would consider a second if we found the right match. Keep us posted!!!

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose

Becky  – (June 15, 2010 at 9:58 PM)  

Interesting dialogue! Pantera, my first guide, loved having her playmate Missy and also enjoyed other dogs. Cricket, on the other hand, loves people and is perfectly content without another dog around the house (Missy is not much of a playmate at this point). Love your 'addiction' -- sounds fun.

Cassie (and Dagan - cheering Poppy on at GDB!)  – (June 15, 2010 at 10:57 PM)  

I'm really kinda busy pouting over this to comment here, but I guess I'll give it a go.

Katrin had great comments! Rescues have baggage - just like all our puppies do going into either CC homes or the homes of their new partners. We do our best to make that "baggage" beneficial (cause a cute purse goes a long way, right??)

Maybe looking at a breed specific rescue would be good, as their dogs generally have been fostered in a family that has a great idea of who that dog is and what challenges there will be.

I'd be curious to hear where every one is in their lives and see how the opinions relate. As much as I adore dogs and want a house full some day, I am really happy with just the one PIT right now. I think that is related to being young(ish), newly(ish) married and having no kids yet. We spend a lot of time not at home - between work, puppy meetings, friends, traveling, etc, we just aren't here much.

One dog is easy to pack and take with us. While two would be company for each other at home, it would be that much more to pack and either board or get a sitter for.

So, for our life, one dog is easier right now. But, when we have been married for a bunch of years and have 2 teenagers, my answer will probably be different.

Kari in WeHo  – (June 16, 2010 at 3:44 PM)  

finally! I had an issue reaching comments. Well I can tell you two dogs is more than twice the work of one dog but it is so worth it!

Martha G  – (June 16, 2010 at 7:37 PM)  

I like having a menagerie. I enjoy my rescues and being around them from time to time at the shelter, there have been quite a few dogs I would love to take home. In my opinion, teaching Ardella to be a pet has been as difficult to work through as working with any rescue dog! I love her, but she's got some issues that need work.

Aidan and Ardella didn't really get along when we first got Ardella, but they do now. We had a male dog for a short time that tried to kill Aidan, so definitely have the dogs spend time together to see if the match will work. Best friends doesn't need to be the goal, but safety certainly should be a strong consideration.

If you were to look through your local shelter for a dog, I would look for an owner surrender. Many of these dogs are released to shelters because of financial difficulties, not behavior problems. Another nice thing about shelters is that they often require you to bring any dogs in your home with you to see how the dogs interact. At our shelter, if the adoption doesn't work out, we encourage people to bring the dog back and the dog goes back onto the adoption floor. I have a lot of good things to say about our local humane society, but realize they aren't all equal.

So, if your family isn't interested in a Lab or Golden, what breeds are you considering?

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