I’ve always believed that the decision to bring a dog into your home could be one of the most important decisions you will ever make and, for this reason, should not be taken lightly. This weekend gone has reinforced my conviction that making sure you choose the right dog for your family circumstances and lifestyle is very important.
Let me explain.
As you already know from Last Wednesday’s post, it was Brianna’s birthday on Friday, which meant a whole weekend of celebration, parties and visitors. There has been a sea of people coming and going to and from our house over the past few days, and one of the things I was the most pleased with was the way George behaved under these circumstances. He’s always happy to welcome family and friends that he knows well, but he’s never too keen on strangers invading his territory. We did, however, have a few ‘new’ guests around our house and George simply had to deal with it.
Since we knew how wary he is of humans and dogs he doesn’t know, we kept a close eye on him during the initial minutes of being introduced to our guests. The last thing we wanted was our dog attacking someone, especially a child. Although we trust him completely with Brianna and her little cousins, you can never tell how a dog will react in new situations, so we were prepared to restrain him if he started to display any aggression. His crate was also ready, waiting for him in the office as a last resort.
But what a good boy George proved to be! Yes, he got a bit nervous, growled a little (in a talking kind of way – no teeth showing) and ran around with his tail between his legs for about 5 minutes. Then he settled down and went to assess the newcomers by sniffing them, accepted a little pat on the head and settled down in his bed. Eventually, he ended up sharing cuddles and kisses with everyone and chasing the kids around. He even decided to join in a little photo session! After all of our initial worries, the challenge of the day was to keep George off the party food, not our guests’ ankles. I was really proud of my furry boy and happy that we did not have to lock him away and he could enjoy being part of the family. Like he should.
Which brings me back to my initial point. It is very important to do your research properly and choose the right dog. When we decided to take this step, Brianna was 5 and we knew that our dog had to have a nice, even temperament and be good with children. This was our number one criteria, especially since I’d heard a few horrific stories of little children being mauled by their family dog. We therefore overruled a lot of breeds, including all guard dogs. Although I am aware that Rottweilers, Dobermans and Pitbulls can make wonderful pets in the right hands – the softest Rottweiler in the world lives around the corner and is one of George’s friends – I’ve always been wary of their strength and propensity to ‘lose their temper’ if little kids poke them in the eye or pull their ears. The damage these dogs can cause is so great that we thought it was just not worth the risk.
We also considered adopting a rescue dog. We visited the local dog shelter and the image of those poor dogs barking and scratching at the windows of their cages melted my heart and is still with me today. We felt that adoption was definitely the right choice for us, but then, just before we made our final decision, a member of our family got bitten in the face by a friend’s rescue dog. Nobody could have predicted that, as the dog knew her well and was used to having her around. One day, however, the dog snapped. Something she did must have triggered that behaviour. Maybe she moved too fast, we’ll never know. But it almost cost her an eye and it definitely cost the dog his family, as he had to be returned to the shelter. This experienced made us abandon our adoption plans, since we no longer felt it was a good idea to bring a dog of unknown past into our young family.
So, we narrowed it all down to a whippet puppy whom we can ‘educate’ and shape the way we want from the beginning, and who can grow up with Brianna and be her childhood companion. This is how George became one of us, and we never regretted the day we brought him home. Last weekend just confirmed that we made the right choice!