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I've never had a dog, but the time is coming... advise me!

(20 Posts)
StillMedusa Sun 10-Feb-19 00:45:54

I have a smallish 4 bed house, with a smallish but totally enclosed garden , and 1.5 cats ..one diva of a girl cat and one unfaithful boy who spends 90%of his day with Thelma 4 doors down !

My children are all grown up but at the moment , I have 5 with us... one will go in June (My DS1's fiancee who is an Aussie and her visa is up..he will follow when his visa comes through) two more are with us until next xmas and will then be moving out..possibly with diva cat who adores them.

Which will leave only ds2, who is a young man with autism. He is gentle and kind, adores the cats, and is obsessed with dogs. He is unlikely to ever live independently or marry, and he REALLY wants a dog to love.He needs a companion andI also want a dog to love!

Our house sounds busy but the reality is DS2 is home all but an hour before I get home, and a dog would never be alone for any length of time... I work school hours and he has a pt job that starts at 2pm smile

I am itching to start investigating breeds and starting to find the dog for us. I would like a smallish to medium sized dog (no handbag sized breeds) that can live with cats and has moderate exercise needs.

I'm happy to wait until everyone has moved out if that is best for the dog, but equally would love to think about finding one this summer when I would be home for 6 weeks. I would prefer to have a rescue on principle, but do not know if as first timers, we would be considered... and our local rescue is full of staffies, which I'm afraid I'm not keen on.

DS2's idea of happiness would be an Irish Setter but I'm not sure we would be the right people, as first time owners for such a daft dog :D (our friend has a gorgeous one and DS2 adores him)

I am willing to have a puppy but am very anxious to get it right..I'm totally aware of the long term committment (my last cat was 19 when she died!)

Any suggestions of how to look, what breeds to look at (also happy to have a non breed heinz dog) and how to go about it, please?

I basically want a dog who will be a companion and cuddle beastie for DS2 but will love us all!

OP’s posts: |
Tavannach Sun 10-Feb-19 00:52:15

Irish setters need a lot of exercise but they are brilliant. Norfolk terrier maybe? Much smaller but well-tempered.

missbattenburg Sun 10-Feb-19 07:59:07

Puppies: puppies are hard work. They can be noisy, chewy, bitey little things for months. Even the good ones. They can destroy routine and basically take over the house. They need calm consistency and a huge amount of time and focus for the first year or so. They are unlikely to be a cuddle companions until they are grown up and growing up can take 1-3 years, breed depending. Please bear that in mind and think about whether you or your ds would be fine with that.

Breeds: it's going to come down to a realistic judgement of how much exercise, training, grooming you want to do. Plus what dog behaviours you absolutely cannot live with: barking, chewing, digging, smelling, dirty, independent, needy, etc.

If you chose a rescue dog you have a better chance of being sure what the dog is like. Chose a puppy and you take a chance, using breed to try and predict but never being certain.

Rescue dogs can be obtained within days or a couple of weeks - if you find the right one and the approved. Puppies take months, if you do it right. More for the less common breeds.

missbattenburg Sun 10-Feb-19 08:00:26

Oh, and Discover Dogs at Crufts is brilliant for getting to know breeds. If you can make it then you basically walk around hundreds of stalls each dedicated to a breed with dogs to pet and owners to talk to. Really valuable.

missbattenburg Sun 10-Feb-19 08:08:15

Sorry, one more thing. I have found a deep love for Staffies - whilst I understand the look of them is not all hairy and fluffy and cute, I have met some absolute corkers in rescue. Dogs that are bombproof in way my pedigree springer never will be.

Spend time with them and their big old smiles start to pull at your heart strings. You start to love how they look.

I guess what I am saying is, don't ignore them just because they don't look good to you. Choosing a dog just on looks is a guaranteed way to end up with the wrong one.

NotwhereIshouldbe Sun 10-Feb-19 08:09:30

Agree with @missbattenburg please consider an older rescue. Puppies are hard work (I work with them for a living!) and a lot of people think they are adorable until they turn into nipping, bolshy monsters and want to give the up! There are loads of lovely rescues needing homes which are already house trained, walk well on the lead and trustworthy in the home. You could also consider rehoming assistance dogs that haven't made the grade. Hearing Dogs use medium size dogs (cockerpoos) which might suit you. Good luck!

Yogagirl123 Sun 10-Feb-19 08:16:28

Puppies are very hard work, most people who get a puppy, have a few days thinking what on Earth have I done! House training is hard work, depending on the puppy of course. You will see a lot of your garden!

We had a lovely dog from a pup till unfortunately he was PTS at 13, absolutely heartbreaking. He totally wrecked our home as a pup, gnawed the banisters spindles, tore up Lino, carpet, shoes etc this was a regular occurrence until he was around 18 mths. Shagged the life out of anyone’s leg that came into the house, and yes he was “done”. He had an oily coat and marked every wall he laid near. Fur all over the place, but he was such a sweetheart we forgave him everything.

These days I wouldn’t consider another pup, as I am disabled and know I couldn’t cope. Their are so many unwanted dogs that need good homes for a first time dog owner that may be worth considering.

But good luck with whatever you decide. Owning a dog is a massive commitment.

florentina1 Sun 10-Feb-19 09:13:22

I admire you for waiting until the right time to. get a dog. Last year (10 years into retirement) I took on a 7 year old rescue and my son took on a puppy. We live separately. We both have had a lot of work to do but I don’t think the puppy has been any harder for him than the Rescue was for me. The important thing is to do the research and pay for proper training,

His puppy is a working cocker spaniel which is a delightful dog. Funny and affectionate and enjoys walking and playing. I think in your situation, a puppy would be better as they will be much easier for your son to bond with than a rescue.

MaisyMary77 Sun 10-Feb-19 09:42:19

We got a 4 year old rescue Labrador as our first dog. He had been neglected quite badly by his first owner and as a result didn’t need as much exercise as a normal lab would.(2 busted cruciates which had atrophied as he hadnt recieved any vetinary attention for them) Our autistic son instantly bonded with him and they have been the best of friends for the last ten years-I’m guessing the end is near for our amazing dog and I’m dreading the day we lose him.

Six years ago we decided to get a lab puppy as company for our older dog. He was gorgeous but extremely hard work-took about three years for him to calm down and become the most loving, gentle dog ever. Our son never liked him-I think the initial bounciness and constant low level destruction was too much for him. Unfortunately he got a very rare form of doggy cancer and died last year-heartbreaking 😪

A couple of months after losing him we rescued another older lab. He settled in very well and our son loves him to pieces-my son is quite severely autistic; non verbal, prone to epic meltdowns etc. I’ve found having an older, calmer dog around him has been better than our experience with a puppy.

Sorry for having rattled on a bit! I think getting a dog for your son is a wonderful idea! ☺️☺️

allthegoodusernameshavegone Sun 10-Feb-19 09:54:24

It’s a shame you don’t like Staffies as they are wonderful dogs especially as a first time dog. Perfect size, temperament, intelligent and short hair less mess.
Failing that what about a Labrador, a bit larger but as above

HoraceCope Sun 10-Feb-19 09:55:21

How about a greyhound or whippet or even lurcher, They are similar to cats in that there is nothing they love more than sleeping on the sofa. Athough lurchers steal food

DogInATent Sun 10-Feb-19 09:57:55

Living with cats is always the unknown for dogs.

I'm biased, but I would also second the Staffie suggestion. Ours is incredibly gentle with people and children, always taking attention and affection. They're also very empathic - it's very hard to remain upset/distressed for very long around a Staffie, they're clued in and will be persistent in giving you attention until you start to feel happier.

Go to your local shelters, see what they've got. Talk to them about your circumstances and let them see if they can match you up. All ages and breeds of dog can find themselves looking for a home.

EducatingArti Sun 10-Feb-19 10:00:19

I wouldn't have a lurcher or greyhound around cats. They have a very strong drive for chasing and killing anything small and furry.

brownmare Sun 10-Feb-19 10:08:56

I'd also recommend a rescue, and staffies can be brilliant dogs. My one caveat is that you could well find your boy cat will move to Thelma's permanently, and the stress of a new dog arriving if your other cat isn't used to them can cause issues with inappropriate spraying/toileting through stress.
I think it would be worth getting a dog that you know is used to cats that won't chase them. A good rescue would be better at finding what you need I think. Irish setters are lovely dogs, but I wouldn't recommend one as your first.

boilingstormyseas Sun 10-Feb-19 10:17:17

The puppy stage is quite intense and it is really important to lay the foundations of socialisation and training. They poo and wee a lot and chew everything so make sure you have somewhere safe to leave them when you're not there - crate or playpen. Go to a puppy training class. Some breeds are easier to train than others - we have a terrier and a labrador so I should know! Be consistent, don't over exercise them in the first year and no matter how many people live in your house it will be you that does the looking after of the dog!

LilQuim Sun 10-Feb-19 10:36:49

Exciting times! I rescued a tiny staffy puppy from a guy who was kicking her. I wasn't looking for a dog, and definitely not a staffy, but she is honestly the most gentle, loving, snuggly dog. She greets everyone on our walks, won waggiest tail at local dog show, and when my depression is bad she will sense me being low & run to me to lick my face. Easy as anything to train.

I rescued a 4yr old beagle 2 years ago & I won the lottery in terms of my two being a great match, him being calm & a bit goofy. I grew up with a beagle, so I know the breed - shed like nothing you've encountered, scent driven so will run off & switch his ears off (he has a gps tracker).

If you're wary of staffies, Peter Egan has several, Sue Perkins has one (after she lost her beagles), Ricky Gervais adores mine (& staffies generally). They form incredible bonds & I'd always recommend them.

fivedogstofeed Sun 10-Feb-19 11:10:17

You sound really well placed to have an older rescue dog.
In your position I would contact local rescues and explain your position - they may well have dogs waiting to come in from family homes who are in desperate need. Not all rescue dogs are strays with unknown history - many come into rescue due to relationship breakdown or family illness.
Dogs who don't like being alone are particularly difficult to place, but your set up would be ideal for one who isn't used to being left.

StillMedusa Sun 10-Feb-19 11:26:17

Thankyou for all the advice so far..it's what I need!

Ideally I would like a rescue, because I'd rather give a home to someone who needs it than a cute puppy.. and I hadn't really thought about the growing up process of being not that affectionate potentially for a few years. I did the kitten stage with my Maine Coons anf they destroyed umpteen phone chargers, a macbook charger and several lamps so I can only imagine how much work a puppy might be! I assumed that rescues wouldn't touch us because we aren't experienced , but I will contact a few and see what they advise.
I admit my reluctance with staffies is based on a childhood experience of one which had not been trained..so I will see if I can meet some and revise my opinion smile
A failed support dog would be he ideal.. DS2 has moderate disabilities..he can go out alone to a familiar place (ie Asda where he has a little job 5 mins from home) but has limited self help skills and only one (also disabled) friend so would dearly like a hairy friend who he could walk with (with me).
I live in Oxfordshire so if anyone knows of any breed rescues (I'm near Blue Cross and keep a close eye on there but they are quite hard to get any pet from in friends' experience!) or smaller resces that I wouldn't know about, I'd be grateful. I'm very willing to travel as far as it would be kind for a dog, and I'd definitely be up for training classes.

I'm not worried about Obie leaving for good... he gets on with other animals...just not his sister as she is HORRIBLE to him ..she's a beautiful meany!

Thank you again... I am going to lurk here to ask questions...

OP’s posts: |
florentina1 Sun 10-Feb-19 12:19:53

Don’t worry about not being experienced. Good Rescues will put on the profile whether the dog needs an experienced handler. A lot of dogs have to be the only dog in the house and quite a few will happily live with cats. My biggest worry when I adopted was that as a 70 year old first time owner I would be rejected. Lots of rescues were happy to consider me.

Floralnomad Sun 10-Feb-19 12:31:54

I wouldn’t discount a rescue puppy or slightly older puppy , we got ours when he was approx 15 weeks from Battersea ( he was a stray ) and although he had obviously never been in a house so was delayed with things like toilet training he has always been very affectionate . I never found him remotely hard work but then I have a history with keeping horses that were stabled at night all year and frankly nothing is as hard as 4 equines with a set routine . I would also say that although most staffs are lovely with people and their own family in particular I’ve met loads that have issues around other dogs .

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