Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Didn't Know About Dogs: Part 1

I didn't grow up with dogs.  We had fish (that died), rabbits (that died), guinea pigs (that died), gerbils (that developed tumors and died), and cats (that went crazy...and-then died).

Jamey grew up with an assortment of dogs.  He has fond memories of them as he was growing up.

I, on the other hand, have always been afraid of dogs (and still am, actually).  I'm not sure if I'm repressing traumatic memories of some incident that now escapes me or what but I've always been intimidated by dogs.  Even the small ones.  As an adult, I've been secretly pleased that my girls are a little afraid of dogs because people willingly put their dogs away when we come over.  I'm not proud of this, mind you, because I know how miserable it is to be afraid of them.

But Jamey (and all three kids, actually) thought that we should one day get a dog of our own.  I felt selfish denying them even the privilege of a discussion about it so we read up on different breeds and talked about how it might work.  It never seemed like quite the right time even though our youngest is six years old and we thought the kids were prime dog-having age.

Oh, and there's this thing I've always said: NO INDOOR PETS.  Our pigs live outside, our chickens live outside, our duck lives outside, our bees live outside, and our cat lives outside.  I have allowed fish in the past (they've died) and there is a hamster that lives in a cage in the girls' room but I've never touched her nor lifted a finger to care for her.  (Shh...I pretend she isn't even there and the girls take good care of her.)

Back to dogs.  When we were reading up on breeds, we kept coming back to Vizslas.  They appealed to us because they love exercise (Jamey runs), are very loyal, are very clean (they clean themselves like cats), and have very short hair (very little shedding and little doggy smell).  They've acquired the nickname "velcro" dogs because they LOVE being with their people.  As in, next to them, on top of them, following behind them, etc. Since we're home almost all the time, we felt like we could manage a very social dog.  In fact, we wanted a dog that engaged the kids a lot so they'd be invested in it and its care.  The breed also reminded us of Jamey's aunt and uncles's German Short-haired Pointer- a dog all of us admire.

But Vizsla puppies are expensive and I had NO interest in raising a puppy at this stage in life anyway.  My foot was put down HARD about that.  Also, we (okay, I) didn't know how we could trust a grown dog to be safe with our kids and any other little people that come into our house. Our life is busy.  The timing never seemed right.  The dog discussion was put on the back burner.

Evidently, Someone smelled the discussion simmering.  One Friday afternoon a friend posted on facebook that friends of hers were looking for a new home for their dog.  Attached was a picture of an adult male Vizsla.  As soon as Jamey came home, I showed him the picture (this shows you how much this dog-fearing woman loves her family, no?) and he was soon on the phone with the owners. They were going away for the weekend.  Would we like to dog-sit so we could get to know him?

Since I felt it really was the only way we could see what life with a dog might look like and be able to make an informed decision, we. said. yes.

And I was scared to death.

(Part 2 coming soon.) Pin It


  1. I am fearful of dogs also but it is because a German Shepherd tried to attack my oldest son, then 14 months and I when we were out for a walk 34 years ago. Fortunately a neighbor was home and came to our rescue and chased away the dog. I am fine with dogs I know well but I get your fear and it is so real.

  2. Hi Jane! For what it's worth, I have wonderful childhood memories of time spent playing and working from one end of our small farm to the other with a dog at my heels. As a young child I had no fear of the bull, stray dogs, and host of other things real and imagined because I knew I had the dog with me.

    With a little research to avoid the few breeds that on one end of the scale aren't really good with kids, and on the other end aren't so protective of them that visiting friends and family aren't welcome, a dog can be a wonderful addition to a family. Ours have always been inside and outside dogs. De (my wife) wasn't thrilled about that at first (she grew up with outside only dogs), and still grouses a bit about the dog hair, but now won't even consider NOT having a dog around the house even though our kids are grown and gone.

    I hope your dog sitting weekend goes well, even if this one doesn't turn out to be "the one". A word of warning though: They don't call them "puppy dog eyes" for nothing. They have a way of working their way into your heart very quickly and it's really hard to send one home!

  3. We've hesitated getting another dog since our Zoey died three years ago. Same excuse: It never has seemed like the right time. But we've always had a dog, so now we're thinking of getting one this coming spring. (We're even thinking of getting TWO! Eeeep.) I am very, very interested in hearing about your weekend with the Vizsla as that is a breed my husband has been thinking about. Part 2, please!

  4. I hope your experience with the dog is good but if it isn't, consider rescue dogs- they really are special and they know in some amazing way that you saved them so it strengthens the bond. I am currently responsible for my son's 3 pit bulls (1 lives with me and the other 2 in our rental with a friend of his but I pay their expenses) and I am involved with the local pit bull rescue. Good rescues match their available dogs to families and they assess them for behavior such as whether or not they are cat friendly etc. I have personally always had a dog in my life and I always will- having my son's pit bull with me is a temporary situation but we will get another dog of our own after she is gone next summer.
    I have had shepherds, basset hounds, collies, rottweilers, mixed breed dogs of various sizes, and pit bulls- if I had to pick just one breed to love the rest of my life it would be pit bulls. I hadn't ever been around them until 11 years ago and at first I was apprehensive but now I know what loving smart perceptive dogs they are. They adapt themselves to their people- if their people are active, they are active, if their people are couch potatoes so are they.
    Whatever breed of dog you get I hope you fall in love- dogs are amazing companions and they love their people in a way that is almost indescribably wonderful- I don't consider my house a home without a dog living in it!

    1. We've had some experience with rescues and while they are very loving, you should be prepared for some potentially quirky behaviors depending on their past. Our Zyla (a black lab and one or two mystery breeds mutt) is a rescue and has an irrational fear of noises like fireworks and gunshots. It's all good until the "bangs" start and then she wants to be inside, with you, and being touched for reassurance. Rescues are great, but do know you might get a surprise or two along the way.

  5. I 2nd the idea of a rescue dog. I happen to have 5 dogs right now. Of those dogs 3 are rescue dogs. They do seem to understand that YOU are giving them a home and a special bond can and does develop. I even risked MY life to save a dog. To me a dog is just a child with fur. I can not begin to imagine what life without a dog is like. One of my dogs, a rescue is my shadow. She is close to me almost all the time. Sleeps next to my bed in her bed and follows me to the bathroom first thing in the morning for her morning head pat.
    I know that you are afraid of dogs, but please read up on breeds and know that children can and often do develop strong bonds with a dog. My oldest son had a Basset Hound (a rescue) that adored him and would wait by the door for him to come home from school. I learned he was letting her sleep in his bed. I walked in one morning to say something to him and there he was, with HIS body curled around her. She was in the middle of a twin bed with him curled around her.


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