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Dog ownership for beginners...

(8 Posts)
MissBetsyTrotwood Sun 03-Jul-11 21:16:16

Hi all,
We really want to be dog owners. DS1 is 5 in the autumn and DS2 is nearly 3. DH has owned dogs before but I never have and as I'll be the one looking after it (and probably organising the search for the hound for whom we'll be the right humans) I am wondering about a few things.

I think the things counting against us being suitable as dog owners might be:

-DS2 has hearing loss and a severe balance disorder so falls over a lot and is generally very unsteady on his feet.
-We have two guinea pigs.
-I hope to be returning to work part time in the next few years.
-DH works very irregular hours and is often away all weekend/getting in very late at night.

Would those things be an issue? Or am I just overthinking and there do exist dogs that can live with all that. I do hope we are suitable candidates. I'd love my kids to grow up with a dog and know we have the love and patience needed for it... TIA

Happymm Sun 03-Jul-11 21:21:10

Maybe matching up with an older rescue dog that's matched to you would be best? Read the new puppy thread and you'll get an idea of problems faced! Our pup knocks over my 2year old who's really steady on his feet, and they really need a lot if work and time.
Good luck with your decision making smile

MissBetsyTrotwood Sun 03-Jul-11 21:27:03

Oh that's good advice, thank you. I thought that going through a rescue centre would be good as they would actually visit our house and advise. If they thought we were not suitable then I would know we should just move on.

I just want to get it right, for all of us. Unless something really unexpected happens I will be a SAHM for the next year or so and think I'd have the time and energy to put into a dog.

I'll get reading on the new puppy thread and if I'm still misty eyed at the end of that I'll start picking up the phone!

Happymm Sun 03-Jul-11 21:51:38

Am sure it'll cure those misty eyes!

Have a chat to your local rescue-they may have an ideal dog, or may say wait a bit...

RedwingWinter Mon 04-Jul-11 20:19:36

Miss Betsy, I adopted a rescue dog about a month ago. What helped me in making the decision was thinking about what the dog's day would be like - when I would feed him, when I would take him for walks and toilet breaks, etc. Then I knew that I could fit his needs into my schedule. If your DH works irregular hours, then it sounds like it would be mostly you looking after the dog; that's no problem at all, so long as you are happy with it.

I am sure you can find a dog that won't chase the guinea pigs, but the guinea pigs might prefer to be kept in a different room. I think small animals can get quite stressed sometimes, can't they?

Other people on here advised me to keep an open mind about breed, and let the rescue advise us, since every dog is different. It was good advice. It sounds like you don't want a big dog (that would run around and potentially knock your DS over) but I am sure there is a dog out there for you. The nice thing about taking a dog from a reputable rescue - apart from the fact you are giving a dog a home - is that they will have evaluated the dog and be able to make a good match for you.

Lizcat Mon 04-Jul-11 20:47:44

Look at it from a different angle it may be very possible to train a dog to help your DS. [www.hearingdogs.org.uk] with a little help you can train your dog to wake your DS if the smoke detector goes off as just one example.
There are lots of other examples were interaction with dogs have also helped with balance disorders to.
Just another way of looking at it.

QuietTiger Wed 06-Jul-11 12:47:02

Speaking as a rescuer (and I think it's great that you are considering a rescue dog, BTW) please be completely honest with the rescue about your family circumstances (not that I am saying you would be otherwise), because it means that they will be able to match you to the perfect companion for your circumstances.

Many of the smaller rescues (and certainly the one I work with) assess each home offered individually and don't pass or fail the home on specific criteria, so even if you get a "NO" at one rescue, try others. e.g. a dog was rehomed from our rescue with a very elderly lady, because that was the perfect dog for her and her home was perfect for the dog and back-up support was available. The 2 largest rescue charities said NO to her outright.

The home was wonderful and the (older) dog in question had an amazing life before he died. Many of the larger rescues have a blanket policy of things like "straight NO to homes with children under 5", etc, so be aware of this - it's not neccessarily you, it's them.

Please also pick a repuatable rescue that at the very least assesses the dogs fully, microchips, vaccinates and neuters before adoption and also offers back-up for life should you not be able to keep the dog.

An older, more steady dog may be better for your family - you tend to find that by about 2 years old the dogs personality has developed fully and not having to deal with the "6-18 months teenager" stage can make a big difference to your sanity!

Very best of luck!

MissBetsyTrotwood Wed 06-Jul-11 16:40:20

This is such positive advice, thank you all!

Yes, Redwing although our piggies are living outside at the moment, they do spend the winter months in a pen in our kitchen so that'll be something we'll need to think about. Lizcat , his hearing loss is not so much that he needs help with alarms etc but his balance loss is really severe so I'm really interested to hear what you say about dogs helping with this. His physio and consultant say that as much physical activity as possible (in a safe environment, obviously) is a good thing and, I assume, dog ownership would keep us all very active! He's a very cuddly child too and loves my neighbour's dog... maybe a bit too much!

And QuietTiger it's good to hear about the differences between the rescue centres. I do think we'll use this route now as it seems the most supportive and they will match the dog to us. While I don't think we could home a massive dog, I'm not picky about breed at all and feel character is much more important! An older dog sounds much better too. We will defo be totally honest too - I don't think it's about proving to them we can look after a dog, more that I want them to come and see us on a normal day, house in its normal state, etc! Then they can decide...

So, thank you all again, lots and lots.

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