Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On not getting a second dog

When Torsten and I got Montana, our plan was for her to be our only dog. I can totally see why people have multiple dogs--and in fact I grew up with two, and for a time, three dogs--but for us, we didn't think it made sense.

Part of why we picked Montana is because her personality profile said that she was a sweet, mellow, people-oriented dog, which is absolutely true. When we first got her she didn't have a whole lot of interest in other dogs, and didn't play at all. In the months since we've gotten her, as I've written, she's come a long way, and now enjoys playing with both toys and other dogs. She loves the dog park and is very friendly when we pass other dogs on walks, always wagging her tail and wanting to say hello.

Another part of why we only got one dog was that at the time, we were living in a small apartment with a 65-pound overall pet weight limit, and Montana weighs 55 pounds. So having a second dog just would not have been feasible. Of course, a couple months later we moved to a bigger house, one that we own and therefore can do what we want with, and one with a roomy, fenced backyard. So getting a second dog became more of a realistic option.

We've thought about it, for sure. And especially last weekend when Rosie brought her dog Chloe over and Chloe and Montana played together for hours. Torsten and I looked at each other and watched how well Montana was playing with Chloe, and thought that you know, maybe it WOULD actually be nice to have a second dog.

And I will definitely admit to browsing the list of available companion dogs on the prison program website with a mostly curious but slightly purposeful eye. (And as a side note, if you're looking at the list yourself, how cute is Carmel? And Hailey? And Rudy? And... OK, I need to stop looking now.)

But... well, I don't really think it's fair to get a second dog just so the first can have a playmate. And when we start thinking about the practical issues that would come with having a second dog, we realize that it just doesn't make sense.

For one thing, Montana is very calm and mellow. She enjoys having her yard to herself and being able to sleep in peace in her bed. She does a lot of napping and lying around, and she likes it that way. She also likes to bury her treats in the yard, because she sees it as HER yard where nobody else will intrude. And when she was playing with Chloe, who's a bit younger, she definitely got tired after awhile and started coming over to us as though we could protect her from Chloe's eager attempts to play. And when we took care of our neighbor's dog for a weekend, and walked the two together, Montana was getting annoyed that the other dog was walking in front of her and getting in her way.

My point is, she's a good only dog. I've talked to some owners of multiple dogs at the dog park, and they've said that when they only had one dog, they really got the sense from the dog that something was missing. We do not at all get that sense from Montana. She's not one of those dogs that requires a doggy sibling.

Plus, for us it would be a big hassle too. We'd have to get a second crate for the new dog, and those crates are large--I have no idea where we would put it. We'd have to deal with twice the food, twice the vet visits, twice the poop. Just walking the dogs would become a much bigger endeavor.

And two dogs are way more than twice as loud as one. They play together and bark at each other. They run around the house after each other, their nails scratching on our nice hardwood floors--and while obviously we don't value our floors over actual living members of the household, we would appreciate not having to refinish them once every two years. Two dogs are generally very chaotic and noisy, whereas one dog--or at least our dog--is not.

And then, when we had a baby? Well, I can totally envision going for a walk with Montana and the baby. But the baby and two dogs? I would not have enough hands to deal with everything. And with our Civic, there wouldn't be room in the backseat for two dogs and a car seat. And while the added noise and chaos is something we can handle now, it would probably get a little less tolerable every time the playing dogs woke the baby up from a nap.

It just doesn't seem to make sense for us to add another dog to our household right now. Not when we have it so good right now, and all of us enjoy the arrangement as it is. And not when we have plans for adding other members to the family at some future point. So, we're going to stick with just the one dog, and let her socialize at the dog park to her heart's content, and then come home to her own little kingdom where she is the top dog (even though she is at the bottom of the overall household pack).

Still, those dogs in the prison program are awfully cute. And we are definitely leaving open the possibility that a second dog may somehow find us someday. And if that does happen, we are poised to embrace it.


  1. I'm glad you came to the conclusion you came to because i was going to scream, "Don't do it!!"
    Yeah, dogs are great and everything, but having more than 1 can be a real, unpredictable pain, especially when you consider the double boarding, double vet bills aspect.
    Also, one dog = less dog hair. That sounds pretty great to me right now..

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  3. I would consider it a bit of a hazard to have even one large dog in the back seat with a baby. No matter how well trained your dog is, you and Torsten would be buckled in seatbelts, unable to react quickly if something should happen, whether something the dog did, or even a hard stop that sent the dog flying into the baby.

    I know that wasn't the point of this post, but I felt the need to say it. :-)

  4. Since both of you work from home, I see no need to get a second dog. I DO think that 2 dogs is a good idea for very busy people who leave the dog alone a lot, since dogs like the companionship. Having a second dog also helps kept the first one entertained, but it sounds like Montana is pretty mellow and doesn't have excess energy.

  5. We *almost* got two puppies when we got Chloe. Can you imagine?!! Thank god we just got Chloe, lord. Our house would be insane at all hours of the day!

    I like having one dog right now. We're still all about traveling and it's easier to get someone to watch one dog, as opposed to two. Plus, all the reasons you listed...

    We also have Biggie Purrs, our cat. Who honestly is like a small dog :)

    (From Chloe: Woof! Montana! Woof woof! Thanks for letting me play with all your fun toys! *lick, lick*)

  6. We have considered the second dog question many times in the four years since we got Charlie. We have two cats in addition to the dog, so the idea of being outnumbered by the pets is pretty off putting.

    Also, I imagine that two dogs, is much the same as having two kids, in that it's not double the work, it's 743 times the work.

  7. I'm currently on the one-pet household bandwagon. :) Oscar is a very spoiled one-off house cat, but to be honest, my reasons are more financial at the moment. We could easily cope with another pet to feed and house, but it's already going to cost us bucketloads to transport Oscar home when we're ready to move for good. Another pet right now is a silly move, financially!

    And to be honest - it totally depends on the nature of the dog. We've always had dogs in pairs, but they were ones brought up together - meaning that when we lost one (like Max in January), the other literally had no idea how to cope on its own. It's quite traumatic that way - and means that we needed to find a 'new' replacement to settle the other down. (Long winded, but I hope it makes sense!)

    If Montana is a happy girl, getting lots of attention and lots of walks like she does with you both, I think she'd do quite well staying an only-pup. She seems like she has a really beautiful temperament!

  8. I have two dogs. It is ... hard. I love both of my dogs but sometimes I really question our decision to add another to our family. We were a single-dog household for a year and I look back on those days as the quiet days. Now we have no quiet days. We have lots of puppy love but no silence.

  9. I have a post all ready to go about how I have new dog fever right now. I was on the one dog plan too. I wonder if this is how people end up having 18 children! Love your posts - you have so much insight into everything.

  10. Sometimes I really envy the simplicity of one dog. And you hit the nail on the head - two dogs means twice the poop. TWICE THE POOP. That is NOT fun. For sure.

  11. "And while the added noise and chaos is something we can handle now, it would probably get a little less tolerable every time the playing dogs woke the baby up from a nap."

    Amen, sister. I have friends who have two dogs and two kids, and it's a constant frustration when naptime is screwed up because the dogs are going wacko.

  12. Yeah, we thought about a second dog and then after we started talking about having kids sooner rather than later? I thought about Fuzzy Britches, her size (80 lbs) and trying to handle TWO of her AND a baby. Not gonna happen. Just one will be quite enough!

  13. When my oldest daughter decided she wanted a second dog and then her younger sister said she wanted another one too (that would be the 3rd dog), I just asked them, you don't take care of the first one properly, why would you want another dog? Why don't you play with the one you have? Well, having more dogs can definitey change family dynamics.

  14. BD and I would love to have a second dog. Kip is very mellow, although he still likes to play, so I think he would love to have a puppy around the house. However, we work too far away from the house to come home at lunch to let the puppy out for a bathroom break - which is crucial in the housebreaking plan.