So here is a thing that I emailed to a friend today re: the prospective second dog:

I’m also feeling guilty about not wanting a complicated project. Like, my message will basically be, “I’m looking for the naughty young dog that turned out to be too much for somebody else!” so it’s not like I’m expecting to get handed an obedience champion or anything. But I want GREAT innate temperament and social skills this go-round and I kinda feel bad about that. Totally committed, but bad.
Said friend of course spoke good sense and encouragement, but I wanted to unpack this a little bit more.
Here’s the thing. Every animal that I’ve owned as an adult have been happy accidents. I didn’t intend to bring home that stray dog who was so, so sad in his kennel or buy that young horse with the cute jump and the big buck; I just fell in love and then made it happen. With Lilo, I was looking for something specific: a dog that wouldn’t take offense to my old dog being who he was. But all else was fluid and flexible. (Except for nuisance barking; I really hate nuisance barking.) I ended up with the critters that I needed and that needed me and then I spent years (and counting) learning how to rise to the occasion.
Which means that I now have a few skills. I can train a little. I can read canine body language okay. And I can, if I do say so myself, kick some management ass. AndΒ  I kind of really like — am drawn to — some kinda tricky personalities. I find it really rewarding to draw out a shy beastie or build confidence in a worried one or help something reactive find a little inner Zen.
And I don’t want to do it this time.
I will in the future. It’s a thing that I enjoy and that I think is important, and I have no doubt that I’ll do it again. And every animal I’ve spent any time with has surprised me somehow. This next pup, whenever it comes into my life, will surely be the same. Every time I say something like, “I don’t want a complicated project,” I do know that what I’m really saying is, “I want a different kind of project.” Because even if I end up with exactly what I think I want, there is, y’know, a reason that naughty young dog was too much for somebody else.
But part of me dog feel guilty for asking so much in the raw-material department. Because it feels like — and maybe this is wrong? I’ve never worked in rescue, so I don’t actually have a good sense of the dynamics — that stable, good-minded, physically sound albeit wild young thing should be a straightforward, relatively easy placement. And that diamond in the rough that’s going to need some polishing, maybe not so much…and that maybe I’m being selfish in wanting a break from polishing.
Which is stupid, I know, and there are worse places to be selfish than in contemplating a companion for the next decade plus.
Anyway. Please remind me how selfish I am when that eventual naughty young dog has eaten all my socks. (I feel certain that Lilo will tell me allllll about it!)

6 thoughts on “Overqualified

  1. Oh my gosh, I could of written this same post word for word! I am in the EXACT same place. I’ve put so much work into Phoenix and she still has her quirks, I am hoping my next dog is a little easier. I definitely want a 3rd dog but we are not quite ready yet (we rent!!!). I am also still trying to figure out if I want to go through a breeder or chance it on another rescue. I know that in the end no matter what I pick any dog or puppy in the beginning will be a project. I’m just hoping for one that doesn’t want to eat all the dogs. LOL

    I love how you put it about management! Management is so insanely important and you would be shocked at how many people I know who are bad at it! This is such an awesome post! Thank you for stopping by my blog! I’m adding you to my follow list. πŸ˜€


    1. Blogs are the best for solidarity. πŸ™‚ I’m not a huge fan of tiny puppies — I’d do it for just the right litter in a minute, but it would have to be just the right litter — but there are definitely times when I think the reasonable certainty of temperament and physical soundness makes a breeder dog sound awfully great even though I’m not looking to title. But I do kinda like letting someone else take care of the housebreaking stage!

      Glad to have you along! πŸ™‚


      1. Sometimes you can get lucky if you know the right people. Often breeders will keep pups until they are a year or so (sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more) as prospects for showing, trialling, whatever it is they breed for. Then if the pup doesn’t meet all their criteria for a breeding dog, or an “activity” dog, they will look to rehome it. If that is something that appeals to you, put the word out there with breeders. It is a surprisingly common thing.


        1. I’ve heard this rumor! Alas, I’m not even a little bit dialed into the local purebred dog scene, so I don’t know the right people in the right breeds (though I’ve put a bug in the ear of a non-local acquaintance). But who knows what will be!


          1. i could help (fairly locally! πŸ˜‰ if you wanted a pyr, but I somehow don’t think that is your goal πŸ˜‰


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