Sunday, May 16, 2010

The big decision

So, we've done it. We've decided that we will not be, at least not in the near future, a two-dog family. Which means Renegade is now looking for a home. Leave a comment if you know someone who is looking for a cute, very well-adjusted, well-socialized puppy who will grow up to be a medium-sized dog. Probably a great medium-sized dog.


Over the past few weeks, I've enjoyed observing Renegade's behavior at the same time as one of my favorite authors who is definitely my favorite dog behaviorist (what? you don't have a favorite dog behaviorist?), Patricia McConnell, has been discussing puppy behavior, trainability, and predictability on her blog. I have been following along as she chooses a Border Collie puppy to work on her farm and act as a companion to her super-sensitive adult Border Collie. The process she is going through is SO interesting to me and such a fun window into dog psychology. Most of her discussions are way over my head but engaging nevertheless.

Trisha's most recent post included a nugget which seemed amazingly wise to me. How many times have you heard people say that they want to adopt puppies because they know exactly what they are getting? No bad experiences or unpredictable behavior? I have heard it over and over again and deep down in some unspeakably dark place in my heart I have at times felt annoyed -- mostly because there are so many great adult dogs out there who are euthanized every year while puppies are bought up like hot cakes. So, seeing this in Patricia McConnell's blog today resonated with me. Here is her quote:

"I promise you that there is simply no way to know who this little [purebred Border Collie] pup will be when he gets older. Some dogs who look super submissive seem to be alpha-wanna-be’s in disguise. I have always told people that if you can’t afford to take a risk, don’t get a puppy. Older dogs obtained from shelters, breeders or rescues are often less of a question mark, and although you may not know what you got until you get them home, you’ll know a lot sooner than waiting for 3 years for a pup to grow up!"

Younger dogs are easier to mold into the adult dog you want, yes. Their temperaments are set, but their personalities are not. If Trisha McConnell, a famous animal behaviorist, cannot guarantee that her puppy will grow up to be the dog she is hoping for, then none of us can.

When we adopted Libbie, she was still a puppy. She was full grown and no longer full of puppy cuteness, but at 8 months old, still a puppy. She just recently turned three years old and it seems like we are finally seeing her adult personality -- the personality that we will live with for the next ten or more years. We've finally gotten past the puppy stage and I just don't want to go back to puppyhood right now. Too many misplaced pees and poops, too much training, too much work. Libbie deserves a pal, but Libbie by herself is so easy. So, [insert large sigh here] no Renegade for us.

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