Friday, January 30, 2009


Yesterday someone asked me why we decided to move to Denver. I covered this somewhat when I announced that we were moving, but it can't hurt to go into more detail. So, here are the main reasons:
  • Weather. Denver is cold sometimes, but not overly so, and it's not humid and has tons of sun, plus real seasons. The climate is ideal for us.
  • City size. We don't want to be in a huge metropolis or a tiny town. Denver is a nice, mid-size city with a lovely downtown area and stuff to do, without being overcrowded or full of tourists.
  • Cost of living. Denver is very affordable, at least compared to DC. This has a positive impact on a lot of things, but one of the main ones is that we can afford to buy a house that isn't miles out of town, which means that we do not have to worry that we will spend most of our day on a long commute.
  • Beauty. Denver is gorgeous, and very outdoorsy. There are the mountains, obviously, but there are also rivers and lakes and parks galore. It's a very healthy town with a focus on activity, which means lots of bike paths and walking paths.
  • Location. I love the west, and so does Torsten. It might not be within driving distance of all those big East Coast cities, but we never drove to those. I could totally see us taking a road trip to the Dakotas, though. Or to Salt Lake City, or Santa Fe, or Phoenix.
  • It's pet-friendly. I am dying to have a dog, and DC just isn't the place for that. I mean, it's definitely doable, but it's not exactly a pet-loving, outdoorsy sort of place. In Denver, I get the sense that tons of people have pets, and there are lots of place to take them with you on hikes or jogs or whatnot.
Now, speaking of that last one--when we move to Denver, we are FINALLY getting a dog. Torsten really wants a lab, but I think we're going to wait on that one until we have a house and possibly a child. Labs are adorable, but they are big and energetic and I can't imagine that they will do so well in an apartment.

The awesome thing about this move, though, is that we are finally, after years of waiting, in a good position to have a dog. The city is right, a lot of apartments are pet-friendly, and someone will be home all day to take care of the dog so it won't get lonely or feel cooped up.

Now, we are not going to get the dog right away--we're going to wait until we've found an apartment and are settled in. But, obviously this is one of those places where I totally get ahead of myself and start looking on all the shelter and rescue sites in the Denver area for possible dogs.

And I am totally overwhelmed. Here are the basic criteria:
  • The dog should be about two years old. We want it to be an adult but still live for a long time.
  • It should be medium-sized, somewhere in the range of fifty pounds.
  • It should be medium-energy. It shouldn't be totally lethargic and have to be dragged on walks, but nor should we have to take it on a ten-mile hike every day just to keep it from destroying the house.
  • It should also be house-trained and crate-trained, and if not already obedient, at least trainable. It needs to be decent around kids and other dogs, because we may obtain both during its life. But that stuff is about the individual dog, not the type of dog.
So basically, we want a dog that is medium in every way--age, size, and temperament. And so far, I haven't found the exact dog or breed that fits the bill. There are a couple that could turn out to be right, and ultimately we'll have to visit with a few dogs to find the one that just feels like a good fit. But in the meantime, I'd like to do some research and have more of a general idea what we're looking for before we launch ourselves on a room full of dogs and I fall in love with the most inappropriate one there, like a pit bull/Great Dane mix.

Here are the dogs that I've found so far and think could be a good match:

Pepper is a 2-year-old Australian Cattle Dog described on the website as being sweet, mellow, and well-trained. I wonder about the breed, though, because Australian Cattle Dogs in general are high-energy and like having jobs to do, which our dog wouldn't have.

This is Jersey, a basset hound that I am in love with. She is sweet and mellow but not too mellow, but she's a bit older (6) than we want. Torsten doesn't like basset hounds (which is horrifying) and they also tend to bark, so she probably wouldn't be the best choice, but I LOVE HER.

Fern is a bit older (5) than we wanted, but she is just SO cute and apparently sweet and cuddly and adorable. God, I love beagles.

Stormy is an otterhound, which I've never heard of before. The description doesn't talk about weight and age, so it's hard to tell on those counts, but apparently she's very sweet and lovable. Torsten wants her. I'm a little less sold.

Abbey is a Welsh Corgi, one of my favorite breeds but not so much for Torsten. But look how CUTE. And apparently she is a total sweetheart. I don't know how old she is, though.

So what do you think? Do any of these dogs stand out to you? Or more generally, do you have any recommendations, either positive or negative, about specific breeds?


  1. I'm a huge dog lover, so you know this post sits well with me. When Sweets and I went to rescue a dog a few years ago, we both agreed, we're not small dog people, so anything under 30-40 pounds was out. Other than that, we kept our minds open. Personality is huge. Whether you AND Torsten feel a connection to the dog is almost more important than the size or breed. There are a lot of unfortunately mis-catalogued breeds ... some of the kindest dogs I've met are Pitbull mixes. One thing to consider if you'll be in an apartment for a while is the dog's coat ... longer fur means more cleaning up! I can't wait until you actually go looking at dogs - so excited for you!

  2. I love dogs, and like Nilsa my family is a big dog type of family. Check out prison programs for rescued dogs. Our Golden came from a resuce where she had been housed at the correction facility with an inmate who trained her. She is wonderfully trained and well mannered. Good luck on your search!

  3. I was going to comment that you might consider a pitbull or pitbull mix and then I saw SoMi's Nilsa's comment. My friend has a pitbull he got from the shelter, and she is a total doll. Energetic enough to be a fun dog, but she doesn't need a loooooong walk every day (and she's only a year old, so an older one might be more calm). And she learns VERY quickly.
    I will say that my husband's family has a dog that's an Australian Cattle Dog mix, and one of the downsides is that they like to "herd" things, so they can nip at your heels if you are running around or something (think small children playing). They are really sweet dogs, but that might be something to consider.
    Personally, I LOVE beagles, and when I was growing up that was the best dog breed we had. But they do howl on occasion. I guess every breed has it's downsides, and I think that when you meet the dogs the connection is more important that the individual breed.
    Good luck!

  4. Be concerned about a dog that is overweight like a couple of them that you like. They won't be as active as you sound like you want and will end up having health problems. I had a cocker spaniel for almost 20 years and she was amazing.

  5. I would not go with any type of herding or hound dog. They DO need jobs and you may find they're not suitable for an apartment. We live in a house with a large yard and our hound is extremely bored (even with daily walks and us home all day!) and just chewed a huge hole in our wall. haha.
    Of course, that varies with each individual dog. Bassets and beagles shed a ton, and have you heard them howl/bay. Wow. Not sure if that would work well in an apartment.
    If you're looking for less shedding, a terrier or something with more wiry hair might be better. Have you considered a standard poodle? That is my dream dog, but expensive, even through a rescue.
    Our best dogs have been mutts, honestly. When you get there, you could probably check out the local shelters and I'm sure something will jump out at you. :)
    PS - When we visited Denver we did find it to be VERY pet friendly and outdoorsy. It was gorgeous as well.

  6. I love dogs and I have been wanting another one.

    We have a lab, she is my finace's and is going to be 10 this year. She is full of energy but at the same time, she is slowing down. I also have a shih tuz but he lives with my parents (he is their baby but he is going to be 11)

    One important thing to remember is that a dog is sometimes more of a hassle and expense that you may think.

    But the pros outweight the cons for sure. I love coming home and seeing the dog and giving her a hug. It is even better when you are having a crappy day and they just let you love them.

    Make sure that you read up on the breed and see what their traits are and it is important to bond with your dog, you will know him or her when you see her.

    Like Nilsa mentioned there are a lot of bull mixes out there and they are just such love bugs.

    Good luck, I can't wait to hear what you got.

  7. you'll never ever get me to speak disparagingly about a dog, but in general i'm not crazy about austrailian cattle dogs... this is based mostly on a couple bad experiences i had with then while i was volunteering at the rescue shelter, but i've found that they are very territorial and like to herd, even if you don't want to be herded. its part of their breed's mentality, and if you've got the room to let them run around, you're great, but i'd be nervous that he'd get territorial once you had kids.

    as i'm reading the other comments now, it looks like this issue has already been raised, but i'm putting in my several cents anyway:)

    look for a good mutt! something lab-based but maybe with some basset or spaniel or something thrown in. mutts are the best.

  8. A good friend of mine just got a poodle. She did a ton of research beforehand and she LOVES that dog. She got a standard and he's about 50lbs. He's really sweet and mellow. She said she did not have trouble training him. One thing that I love is that he doesn't smell as doggy as most dogs. Oh and the goofy hairdo is definitely optional.

  9. Oh, that Abbey is a sweetie! I'm partial to Corgis, though. :) (Plus, Shorty is part Corgi, so I'm totally biased.)

    I think once you go to the shelter, you'll see a few dogs that just speak to you. There's just an instant connection.

    How exciting! Can't wait to see what happens.

  10. My cousin and his wife have an Australian Cattle Dog. They taught her how to walk on the treadmill by herself to burn off some extra energy during the day. [They still take her on daily walks, natch]. She is wonderful with their baby boy who is about 1 1/2 years old. They are very loyal doggies!

    We really want a Shiba Inu. They are probably too small for what you are looking for though.

  11. My boyfriend is with you on the love for corgi's. He refuses to ever get a different type of breed (no, we don't have one yet)

    Glad you decided on a rescue dog. You'll be so happy with your choice!

  12. On the dogs, beagles do bark quite excessively, especially if you are not there, which can cause problems if you ever leave your apartment.

    And beware of german shepards, I think this is the breed that tends to whiiiiiiine. At least, we had a cute little german shepard/border collie mix, and that dog would not stop whining. We grew to hate that dog, which is a terrible thing to say, but seriously, shut UP, dog.

    Other than that, I don't know anything about dogs, but the first and last ones looked pretty cute (despite the first being, you know, a potential whiiiiiner).

  13. Pepper looks almost just like my Duke. We got him from the Humane Society and he met all of your criteria - we never could understand why someone let him go. He's the best dog ever!

  14. Oh- also check Denver code, because some dogs may be outlawed, including pitbulls and possible rotwhilers (total misspelling, sorry)?

  15. Stormy! I love him. I know nothing about the breed, but he just looks friendly and loveable.

  16. A few things to think about that I'm not sure I would have thought of before I got a dog, but now that I have one, I wish I had, though I got lucky:

    1) An active to moderately active dog may suit your lifestyle now, but dogs live for a long time. Will you still be able to give it a ton of attention and long walks once you have children? Not a dealbreaker, but something to consider. I'm THRILLED that I have a low-activity dog now that my baby is coming. And remember, low-activity doesn't mean lethargic. Sunny likes long walks and the occasional hike, and she loves running around outside with other dogs for hours, but she doesn't *need* those things, and is just as happy snoozing on the couch.

    2) Barking. Some breeds howl/bark more than others, and depending on where you live, this might be completely unacceptable to you and/or your neighbors. Hound dogs (beagles, bassets) are notorious howlers, and beagles have a high-pitched bark that drives some people nuts. (I think it's kind of cute.) Corgis, too, are bigtime defensive barkers, as are other breeds. Of course, it depends on the dog, but it's something to think about, depending on your living situation.

    3) Pit bulls/bully breeds are, in many cases, spectacular dogs. They really limit where you can live, though, and can make it hard to get a landlord to give you an apartment/place to live, even if your current place allows it. The same can be true of Rotties, German shepherds and other "vicious" breeds. This isn't because these breeds are inherently vicious (they aren't, I don't believe that for a second), but rather, homeowners insurance companies don't like to cover these dogs. As a landlord, I allow dogs of any size, but I'm required by my insurance company to restrict what kind of dog I can allow in my home. I even had an issue because my tenants' Lab mix is black and tan, which could seem like a Rottie/GSD mix, even though she isn't.

    This depends on your state/area laws, too, so look into it first. Even if you aren't a homeowner, your future and present landlords might have an opinion on it.

    Anyway. That's my dog treatise. I love love LOVE my dog, and can't imagine my life without her. It was one of the best things I've ever done. They really enrich your life like nothing else, even as an adult who'd had dogs before. It was different for me to have my own.

  17. In my experience, dogs are a lot like horses and my family has had a ton of both. My two cents:

    - Pay the most attention to energy level and personality. Breed has a lot to do with temperament and activity level but meet the dog and see who they all are. Their breed will come through in their personality.

    - Get a dog that is slightly lower energy than you are. Our two guys are higher energy than we are and, while I love them, oh my gosh does it make life challenging.

    - Consider getting the dog before babies. I would be concerned about training a dog how to be around children, which area of the house is off limits, what the daily routine is etc. while I had a young child. Getting the dog into your routine an knowing the rules thoroughly seems like it would make it much easier. When the babies come all you have to teach them is the baby is the boss, nothing else.

  18. We have a beagle, and have had two of them, actually. They CAN be barkers. Ours barks outside when he catches a sent, but he also has been known to bark when home alone. Not very conducive to apartment living.

  19. catches a scent, not a sent. (embarrassed...)

  20. I think Abbey is just gorgeous, though I have never owned a Corgie. Everyone else makes some fantastic points and I think you've gotten terrific advice here.

  21. You have gotten some fabulous advice from readers here, so I won't repeat what they have said. The one thing I would add is to stay far away from any type of herding dog since you plan on having children. Herding dogs are really not a good choice with small kids. They tend to nip, which is just doing what they instinctually want to do, but nipping small children isn't a desirable thing to us humans.

    Congrats on the upcoming move to Denver! I visited for the first time in November and it was SO sunny. The dry air was hard for my sensitive skin, but I bet you will love it for your curly hair. Enjoy this adventure together!

  22. Our dog Ozzy is a Beagle/Bassett mix or a "Bassle" and he's awesome. :)

  23. I am head over heels in love with Stormy from that picture alone. Which is exactly why I need to stay far, far away from sites like Petfinder.

    When you meet the right dog you will know it. They have a way of finding us, actually, and letting us know we are their people.

  24. Here is a little more info about dogs (including the Australian cattle dog). I like this website as it lists care requirements, problems, compatibility with animals/children etc...basically all your considerations.

    Before I got my irish setter (dog love of my life), I did some research as I really wanted a beagle. I got a dvd from the library and was immediately turned off them. Supposedly they will disregard all training (which is hard to achieve to begin with) when a scent they like comes by. They'll run in front of cars to follow a scent. My neighbour had one who climbed his six foot high fencing to follow smells and just go walkabout. Plus they eat until the food is all gone/they cant find more so are prone to weight problems. If you are someone who is likely to be conned into feeding treats (who can resist puppy dog eyes), another consideration might be their eating habits? Some dogs eat until they explode and some just stop when they are full.

    From a pure looks and size perspective I really like the one Torsten likes but I've never heard of that breed before.

    I cant wait for after the move so I can see photos of the new family member!

  25. Dogs! DOGS!!

    I always think going with a mutt from the shelter is a good way to go. You can visit with them, and you might even be able to bring them home for a few days before deciding to adopt.

    I love Border Collies, but they are high energy and need a job. A beagle or a beagle mix might be perfect for you guy, though!

    A lab mix would be good, too!

  26. That last one is freaking adorable! And YAAY for Denver. I've always, always wanted to visit there.

  27. Hi! We are thinking of moving to Denver too! My fiance just lost his job in Richmond when Circuit City went under and Denver is top on our list- I hope you like it! Regarding the dog... I'm a huge dog fan and we have a coonhound/pointer/???? mix/mut and she is just wonderful and from a rescue. She is medium size and energy- she'll run around for hours with you but also loves to chill on the couch and I would totally recommend her breed. Even though she is a hound she never barks or howls and has been very easy to train. I would watch out for the cattle dogs- they are extremely high energy and very nippy (but also very smart and easily trainable). I would checkout to find a good dog. You can specify type of breed, age, size, etc and many of the dogs have a little bio posted about them which is nice. Good luck with your puppy search and your move!

  28. i think fern and abbey are adorable! i'm glad you're going to get a rescue dog. we're big proponents of getting pets from animal shelters/rescue organizations.

  29. Burmese Mountain Dog!!

    They're big, true, but they're like giant, cuddly teddy bears and I knew a woman who lived with one in a studio apartment and said he was fine there. If I ever get a dog, this is what I would get!

    One thing to look out for is how much "lovable" translates into "needy." My roommate had a German Shepherd who was a sweet dog, but completely and utterly needy. He was constantly under my feet and in my face and it drove me absolutely bonkers. Just something to think about--would you be okay with a dog that needs as much attention as a toddler?

  30. Ok, I don't have pets. My grandparents and dad and family are Colorado natives. My grandparents lived in evergreen up in the mountains. When we were growing up they had two adorable labs. They were very well mannered and loving, especially with children. I have also hears german sheppards are wonderful with kids as well. Golden retrievers are good too. I always like puppies but think adopting an older dog from a shelter or rescue is wonderful too. Especially with everything going on with puppy mills and pet stores! Wishing you all the luck and fun on your new adventure!

  31. Beagles are sweet, intelligent dogs but they need A LOT of exercise. They can be very stubborn as well, so training can be a bit difficult. We have a beagle pug cross and I love her to bits but if she doesn't get multiple long walks every day, she is hyper and impossible to live with.

  32. I totally vote for Stormy, so cute! Of course you never know until you meet them. Dogs are so fun to look for! Enjoy

  33. Beagles are adorable, but most of the ones I've known have been VERY high energy. And vocal.

    I like mixed-breed dogs, current dog is a rescued Doberman mix and he is absolutely a delight. I wouldn't have thought it, but Dobies are really laidback and sweet. He's a snuggly, cuddly lap dog. He weighs almost 90 pounds, but nobody told HIM that's not lap-sized.

  34. Ohhh, I like the look of Stormy too. I was going to mention the possible herding issues with some breeds, but everyone beat me to it.
    Here's a couple random tidbits: My cousin had a lab-setter cross and she was gorgeous, but shed an insane amount and wasn't very well behaved, but I think that was moreso due to her lack of training and upbringing; a friend had a Husky and had some issues with howling (and the neighbours complaining).
    Personally I dig lab mixes. I once saw a Basset Hound - Lab cross and it was absolutely adorable.

  35. I didn't read all the comments, so maybe these points weren't covered, but I used to work at a dog kennel/breeder, so I have seen/worked with many breeds and in my experience:

    Cattle Dog - very high energy, need a "job"
    Beagle and Bassett - strong noses. Very sweet, but can make them hard to walk (don't always want to go where you do - want to follow their noses). I have heard Bassett's in particular really need a fenced yard as they will wander away easily... Neither are typically very quiet (barking/baying is part of their personalities) and that might be tough in an apartment setting.
    Corgis - very fun little dogs, but also high energy (they are herding dogs). Like cattle dogs, they want a job and will often "herd" whatever is around (including kids - I've seen it). Can possible be "nippy" as this is what they area bred for (nip at sheep's heels for hearding purposes).

    Keep in mind that the more of a "mix" you get, the various breed traits are tempered, which is often a good thing. for example, lab mixes are great b/c you often (not always!) get the sweet disposition, but may tame down the energy...

    Other breeds to consider - I have a cocker spaniel (so I'm partial!) that is very sweet and mellow, but loves walks and activity. Mine is a big one - 40 lbs. Some cockers can be cranky though... Some labs and retrievers are bred small and mellow and might be a great fit - this would be more of a purebred type dog though, not as likely as a shelter dog...
    Greyhound? Seems off the wall (and they are big!) but they are very mellow and sweet and like walks. They must be kept leashed though and cannot be "tied" out for various reasons.

    Okay, this is already very long, but just wanted to share! Sorry if all duplicate info.

  36. I want a dog so bad too. I just can't justify it at this point. Even though I do have a yard.

    Based on cuteness alone I am gonna vote for 5 & 6. Mostly 5.

  37. Ahhhh getting a dog! :) yay. Anyway, I love Pepper and Abbey the best. Though, my first inclination to our dog is that she needs a big yard to play in and run around and we only have a small house. But if you take them on enough walks throughout the day, they're just fine :) Good luck making a decision!

  38. I have a lab mix, and it totally works out because she's really tiny for a lab - she weighs in at about 45 pounds. Also, while she LOOOOOVES her ball time and just going to the park and running, she's also fine with just a quick 15 min walks/pee times during the winter (as I type this its blizzarding huge chunky snowflakes outside my window, so yeah!) She was high energy as a little puppy but after her year birthday she settled down ALOT. She's a great protector too - and just very "labby". I love her to pieces and would recommend a lab mix to anyone - there's a reason they're so popular!

    My dream dog (and the only one I would consider getting purebred) is a Burmese Mountain dog although I KNOW there would be no way I could get one without a backyard!!

  39. Australian cattle dog= high energy.

    My aunt has a Corgi and the incessant barking is ANNOYING.

    I know that you don't want a large dog, so that rules out a Bernese Mountain Dog (what we have), but maybe a mix with a Berner? They are the sweetest, mellowest dogs. Very furry and very lovable. :-)

    Oh, and pitbulls (even mixes) are not allowed in Denver.

  40. I've got nothing good or bad to say about other dogs but would recommend that you adopt from a shelter or rescue's foster program so you can speak to the foster "parent" and get a real idea of how that dog is in a home environment. Good luck!

  41. Everyone has covered pretty much anything I would say on the matter and it all good advice.

    The one thing I might say, is that dogs that are over 2 years old are harder to train. Or untrain the bad habits, maybe is what is more accurate. So you may want to take that into consideration too. A dog that is a year old, can know the basics and already be house trained, but still need more love and boundaries... But then again there are a lot of well trained dogs in shelters too.

  42. i just have to say that australian cattle dogs have the worst high pitch bark, i couldnt imagine having that bark in an apartment, just saying. i have a golden retriver, which fits all of your requirements-i dont think you could ever meet a nicer dog, and unfortuantly there are many out there that need saving. Good luck!!

  43. Our 'backyard' neighbours growing up had a beagle and it has the MOST annoying bark EVER. It's like a bark/howel. A 'bowel'. It was truly awful.

    I like the idea of a lab because they're generally really great with kids. A chocolate lab - even better. There are so many great mutts out there though....I hope you guys find just the right one.

  44. Australian cattle dogs are supposed to be very smart and get bored very easily. I don't know if they would be suited for apartment living?

    I grew up with beagles (and still have one). They are lovely dogs - happy, friendly, great with kids, good with other animals. They can be high maintenance when young but a 5yo should be more mellow. The beagles I had loved a daily 30min walk but wouldn't tear the house apart if we missed a day here and there.

  45. Fern is ADORABLE! Woo. And I'm so glad you're moving to Denver! That's not very far from Montana, you know, in case you're interested in having an internet stalker. :) Or just getting together with a friend?

  46. I think beagle would be the way to go. Although, they are barkers like bassetts. Good luck on your finding your new baby!

  47. Well I'm partial to the basset hound mostly because we have one named Trixie who is 3 years old and she is just wonderful. She never barks and she likes to take walks but not vigorous long ones. She also loves everyone and is great with kids. We've had all kinds of breeds and she has been by far the best out of them all. Good luck finding the one you both love!

  48. I do love the beagle. How American is that? All valid reasons to move too. What a great adventure and change of pace.

  49. I'm late to the game (We Louisvillians haven't had power for the last ice storms!) but I just had to weigh in:


    My sweet basset girl, Ms. Lucy-dog, is the love of my life! I've had bassets my entire life, and I'm convinced they are the best dogs ever. Yes, they are stubborn, and like all hounds, they have a tendency to bark. But in my experience, there are barking bassets and non-barking...and it won't ever change. I think I've heard Lucy bark 3-4 times in 2 years--she just doesn't do it. And that stubborn streak? It's totally part of their charm! It's like living with a 40 lb. smart-ass. :)

    I could seriously go on about the virtues of bassets for DAYS. They are WONDERFUL house pets, don't need a ton of exercise (but appreciate it), and are VERY, VERY affectionate. Lucy and I spent a lot of time cuddling during football season. ;)

    Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions! I love to recruit people to the breed, and I LOVE that y'all are getting a rescue dog--I think that's so admirable, respectable, humane, and important. And I promise, rescues love their people more. :)

    Good luck! And Congrats on the big move!!! You're heading to Denver & I'm headed to D.C.!

  50. Aw, LOVE the otterhound. And as for the Australian Cattle Dog- I have one, er, my parent's do now, but she was the most high energy dog we'd ever had. Now she's 12 so she's calmed down quite a bit but those dogs definitely aren't ideal for apartment living.

  51. I think you should adopt all of them. :)