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Going from 2 to 1... confidence crisis, or not necessarily

(11 Posts)
Chrisalice Wed 18-Nov-15 17:09:16

Adopted adolescent collie's ancient 'uncle' (AU) is... ancient. He only takes a couple of tiny strolls a day, and doesn't really interact with her, but he is there and relaxed (asleep). Adolescent dog (AD) missed out on early socialisation, we are working on making up for this. She is adapting, though still unnerved by new people who have awkward body language, and a bit too intense about other dogs on-lead.

AU is beginning to show signs that quality of life is declining, and its impossible to know how quickly he will progress to the point where its kinder not to keep him going with meds and orthopedic beds and all the rest. His passing will be terribly sad, he is a lovely gentle old man. I also worry how AD will cope being the only dog in the household. Though she generally doesn't interact with him and spends most of her day with me they do sleep in the same room at night or if left for short periods.

I am concerned that she could become less confident without another dog in the household... Does anyone have any experience of this kind of situation... If you went from two to one, and especially if one was young / lacking social confidence, how did it affect them...?

Finding a companion is an option but a whole other can of potentially disruptive worms confused

Chrisalice Wed 18-Nov-15 17:18:56

So, I guess, more concisely... my thoughts are, is another dog necessarily the best thing, given that they might not be compatible, and that I would want to find an older dog who was confident, reliable, and ideally also active enough so we could go out together.

Should I give her time to see how she responds, should I think about finding another dog while AU is still with us... though then he might be stressed by a newcomer (though he mostly ignores visiting dogs and has a den which he can use if bothered by AD).

Not more concise after all blush

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Wed 18-Nov-15 20:56:59

When our pup is a bit older we will be looking for a second dog. Our old spaniel died last year. He was our only dog. Going from two to one, with all its associated problems, is bad enough I know. But going from one to nothing is awful. Having an empty house with no dog there anymore, god it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I think it's definitely worth trying for another one. Sorry to hear your old boy is slowing down. flowers

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Wed 18-Nov-15 20:59:06

My answer wasn't very concise either! grin Personally I might give the old boy time to quietly enjoy his last moments before I thought about introducing another dog into the house.

Chrisalice Thu 19-Nov-15 08:40:17

Thank you, they leave such a gap when they go, and I always feel sad as well because each time it marks the end of an era, so much happens within their lifespan sad

JoffreyBaratheon Thu 19-Nov-15 10:52:09

Yes, I've been from two to one twice. First time I was only a child so had no say in the matter. Surviving dog had definitely sensed old dog was on her way out for some time, so it was all probably less of a shock to him than it was to us. He adapted easily and well.

Second time it was an early, unexpected death. I had two 6 year old dogs, both very close to eachother - the surviving dog was in fact extremely attached to the one who died - it would have been easier (on the dogs) had it been the other way round. She was absolutely knocked sideways for a few months. He had a brain tumour and was PTS within days of diagnosis. At the point he still looked healthy and OK even though he wasn't. But even the day before we took him to the vet's, she started acting strangely - as if she knew, in retrospect. The dogs were each attached to one son - dog who died was son 2's 'baby' and dog who survived, son 3's. In the evening each dog would drape themselves over their chosen child. But this night, son 3's dog unaccountably draped herself over son 2. Like she knew she was going to have to be there for him. Next day son 2's dog was diagnosed. (He had barely been ill just a behavioural change).

When he died, I'd been told by friends with 2 dogs to take her to see the body and be with us when we buried him, so she'd understand. Apparently many people have done this and it helps. However, she refused point blank to go down into our bottom garden, at all. She never saw him dead. She simply wouldn't go. And she lived on another 8 years, dying aged 14 last year but she'd never again go in the part of the garden where he was buried.

She stopped eating; shook uncontrollably... you name it. She did eat enough to keep her going. I took the decision I wasn't going to rush out and get another dog - it would affect the dynamic too much and if I made a mistake and got the wrong dog it would be incredibly unfair on her. So this was her time to be an only dog, and lavished with attention. I found a herbal supplement for nervy dogs from Herbaticus and thinking it would be snake oil but I'd try it anyway - and the shaking stopped, and slowly she recovered. She was blind, and the other dog had been the total centre of her world - she adored him.

We stuck with our decision to have her as an only dog after that. I ever regretted it. She got more attention - we had got her aged 2 from a breeder who'd kept her in a kennel in her garage for two years. So she had never been an only dog, in her life. She adapted to it well. Getting a second dog was just too much disruption to her if it had gone wrong, I decided, and even if it went well, what if that dog died and she went through it all again? (A realistic thought as it turned out - she was a breed that typically lives for 10-11 years and she made it to 14).

A new dynamic develops after the death of one of a pair and just replacing the one who died isn't always a good idea is the gist of all that.

JoffreyBaratheon Thu 19-Nov-15 10:55:23

And I was way less concise. But I wanted to explain what happened and why we didn't go down the dog 2 route!

You can look for a steady bombproof dog with all the desired characteristics - but they still might not gel or worse still, get really attached then the ew dog 2 dies and...

Chrisalice Thu 19-Nov-15 12:02:46

Thank you very much for taking the time to type it all, lack of concise-ness (concision?) appreciated! Its especially good to hear how it played out given she was so distraught at first and to know that she thrived as an only dog. I really am so uncertain, I can absolutely see the benefits - I could continue to give her all the attention and she often needs 100% of it out and about at the moment.

From a selfish point of view being the only living thing she interacts with most days, apart form OH when home, is trying at times though. Even if she has learned there are no-play times I'd love there to be another source of interest!

For her sake, if she were older I would be less hesitant about being a one dog household. But its a vulnerable age even without rubbish early life, slap in the 2nd fear period, pah. We've gone from lunging and barking to being fairly outgoing and resilient in a short space of time, but it feels like a fine line, especially with other dogs.

Partly I feel this could be frustration, she wants to meet, is unsure, it all becomes a bit intense if on lead... I can work on look-at-me and other ways to manage this, but if isolation is a factor I can't imagine she will become less interested in other dogs, at least for some time. I think she would simply like more companionship, not necessarily play (though she loves to if the opportunity arises) but just to be around other dogs doing doggy things.

A friend brought her complete-stranger dog and within minutes they were all happily asleep on the floor! Another couple of friends visit from time to time and the dogs are so happy just laying around chomping on chews. There is a sense of deeper relaxation and contentment.

AU just doesn't engage at all, he bumbles past in a short-sighted slight-dementia kind of way without even doggy acknowledgement for the most part, which is absolutely his prerogative. So even now she is socially isolated.

Off course it would be really hard finding a dog that was compatible with her and our needs. I'd day care nearby friends dogs but they have quirks that wouldn't be helpful. I'd probably have more luck looking for a pink unicorn for her to ride around on.


(getting less and less concise but it helps to vent and I know people will have helpful input and it will all become clearer)

JoffreyBaratheon Thu 19-Nov-15 12:13:46

If you have friends with dogs who visit often, at least dog 2 will have doggy pals, whatever you decide.

Thinking some more about it, my determination not to get a second dog again, was partly influenced by the fact our survivor was blind. (She had been able to see when we first got her, and had to adapt to being blind when she was 4, two years before our first dog died). So he had adapted to her being blind - which probably gave her weird body language, etc, that might spook stranger dogs. And I decided even against a puppy that would have grown up with a blind adult dog, because what if something went wrong and pup dominated her, or made her unhappy ? She was a fragile, gentle soul. So for her, being an only dog - although it took her at least 6 months to get used to it - was the best way. For your dog, things might be different.

You can also do things like classes or doggy daycare to give him his fix of other pooches whilst you still have original dog? If I was you, I'd be tempted to leave getting another til original dog passes, either way - as a boisterous pup can be too much for an old or ill dog, even if they have their retreat... I speak from experience having a shared bit of garden with next door, and my pup is hell on legs so far as next door's grumpy, elderly collie is concerned! My dog is now 15 months and knows she can't approach collie - but she would love to! The look on collie's face when my bouncy pup hoves into view....

JoffreyBaratheon Thu 19-Nov-15 12:15:54

I'd probably have more luck looking for a pink unicorn for her to ride around on.

Love it.

Chrisalice Thu 19-Nov-15 16:06:37

A blind dog must need such a lot of care! My mind is boggling... How nice she was happy and secure in her life and I totally can see why you didn't want to add another.

The thing I found with classes is they are really good exposure and it was helpful for teaching self-control when around other dogs, but again its not actual interaction. Plus at puppy class no one had good greeting skills so even in managed hellos it wasn't teaching appropriate behaviour, just suppressed excitement! Day care might help if it was a small group and they were well matched and managed but I'm wary that it too could have over-excited interaction and that would encourage defensive behaviour.

Unfortunately friend-dogs aren't regular enough visitors.

The pink unicorn seems the most straightforward option!

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