Opening My Heart to New Furry Possibilities

It’s been just over a year since I lost my beloved soul dog Mojo. I experienced three other losses last year as well, which sapped my motivation for getting another dog anytime soon. I’ve also had a very busy travel schedule, but my last seminar of 2009 has been presented and I’m now left with the time—and, finally, the inclination—to begin searching for another dog.

It’s a funny thing with dog trainers; many of us do well at helping other people with their dogs’ behavior issues, but when it comes to our own dogs, we have blind spots. Just ask my professional trainer friend whose pit bull/great dane knocks visitors down at the door with her unbridled enthusiasm! Maybe it’s a case of the cobbler’s children, where the last thing we want to do when we get home is train one more dog.

It seems like we who should know better have this same blind spot when it comes to choosing a dog. If I were to sit down and make a list of the characteristics I’d like, they’d include friendliness with other dogs and people, no serious fear or aggression issues, intelligence, and an energy level I can live with; in other words, there won’t be an australian shepherd or border collie gracing my home any time soon. Ironically, the types of dogs I’m attracted to—german shepherds, rottweilers, dobermans, wolf hybrids—aren’t exactly known to have the temperament of, say, a golden retriever. It makes me think back to my dating days, where my rock-star partners were certainly head-turning, but perhaps not always the smartest choices. But just as I ended up marrying a kind, intelligent, great-looking guy with a fabulous personality, I’m hoping for the same luck in the canine arena.

I’ve already warned my husband that he’d be needed in the adoption decision-making process. I may have to bring along a trainer friend as well. Goodness knows I’m completely capable of turning off the red flag processing part of my brain when confronted with a pair of heart-melting brown eyes. Or green ones, attached to a black, suspiciously wolf-like body. (I once described my wolf Phantom to a friend, saying, “He’s tall and lanky, with long black hair and intense green eyes” to which she replied, “Are you describing your wolf or your husband?”)

There’s also the matter of age. Mine, I mean. I don’t regard myself as old, but as I’m grudgingly forced to consider things like my chronic back pain (partly due to recent years of lifting the back end of 120-pound dogs), it seems that perhaps a less-than-gargantuan dog would be a wise choice.

One thing I am certain of is that I’d like to adopt from a shelter or rescue group. My husband has suggested a puppy. Of course, he’d be the one peacefully sleeping as I took the adorable fluff-ball out to potty at 3 a.m. But I’d rather have a dog who’s a few years old, one whose temperament is already obvious, where what you see is what you get. Puppies are great, but even the cutest pup can have a genetic disposition toward aggression or fear that’s not obvious at a very young age. Besides, I want to save a life, and puppies are the last to need my help.

It’s been interesting to read online descriptions of adoptable dogs. Euphemisms abound: “He’d love to be your one and only, and wants all your love for himself.” Can you say dog aggressive? “Would be wonderful for an active family” translates to an adolescent with boundless energy, and if you don’t burn it off you’ll have your very own interior redecorator. “A classy fellow. Very discriminating about who he likes, with both dogs and people.” Uh-oh. Run away! I’m not saying these dogs don’t deserve a chance, but that, as cold as it might sound, I’m just not looking for a major project. Been there, done that.

As exciting as getting a new fur-kid can be, I’m not rushing into anything. I have faith that the right dog will come along at the right time. I’ll keep you posted.


7 Responses to Opening My Heart to New Furry Possibilities

  1. Jodi says:


    i read this post from your link on twitter…i recently lost my 13 y.o. alaskan malamute, leica (like the camera/first dog to the moon). my friend also recently lost her 3 y.o. great dane, ruby, to a very sad and curious cancer (i’m learning those ‘weird’ cancers are common among the giant breeds).

    i was discussing the feeling of sadness and the tremendous loss you feel when you lose a beloved pet with my boyfriend recently. my girlfriend that lost her dane said (at the time) that she didn’t know if she could live through feeling like that again, and questioned if she would adopt another dog.

    his incredibly thoughtful response to me agreeing with her was: i’m pretty sure that for all of the sorrow you’re feeling right now, you’d never trade that for all the joy the dogs brought you. while you’re suffering now, you wouldn’t give up those memories to make it go away, nor does the sorrow even compare.

    what an awesome way to think about it! it is absolutely true! while my girlfriend only had 3 short years to spend with ruby, i know she’d never give those memories up. my years with leica (she was with me almost half my lifetime!) are the same. the tremendouse loss i feel could never compare to the feeling of joy she brought me on a daily basis.

    and just so you know, she did adopt another dog, and i will be when i move!

    • wildewmn says:

      Jodi, I’m so sorry for your loss, and for your friend’s as well. I always remember that “grief is the price of love” and what your friend said is true, I would never trade the time with Mojo either. Grief is so difficult, but opening your heart again when the time is right seems like the healthy thing to do. There’s always more love to give.

  2. Good luck in your search. When our time comes in the future, I think I too will need a team of experts to help my my selection. I’ve certainly learned a million amazing things and become a MUCH better dog mom and handler, after living with my super-fearful, dog-reactive border collie, but I’m not sure I’m up to another long road.

  3. Lydia says:

    I always said I’d never get another doberman after living with Flame-whiney, attention hog, demanding. After losing her 2 weeks ago, I realize those are the reasons I loved her. I would so get another red dobie. Funny, isn’t it. You don’t realize how much someone means to you till they’re gone.

  4. Smaki says:

    The dogs that find you can be the best ones. Keep your door and your heart open and some lucky pooch will find his way in!

  5. wildewmn says:

    Thank you all for your kind words. The search goes on! 🙂

  6. While this topic can be very challenging for most people, my belief is that there has to be a middle or common ground that we all can find. I do value that you’ve added pertinent and intelligent commentary here though. Very much thanks to you!

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