A New Dog

 Posted by on 29 December 2008 at 1:17 am  Animals, The Beasts
Dec 292008

I am utterly desperate for a dog. I miss Kate terribly, and I miss Abby now more than ever. Mostly, however, I miss the presence of a good farm dog in our lives. I miss being a pack leader. I miss being welcomed home by a wagging tail. I miss my faithful companion for feeding the horses. I miss the security of the sharp alarm bark. I miss the diligent licking of plates. I miss the silly games and antics. I miss talking to the best of listeners. I miss having my doggie friend at my side.

Paul and I adopted Kate and Abby as adults from a shelter. This time, I’ve said that I want puppy. I’ve also said that I wanted to buy a dog from a breeder, so as to avoid (as much as possible) the kind of genetic problems suffered by both Kate and Abby. (Kate had very bad hip dysplasia; Abby developed degenerative myelopathy. Both diseases are common in German Shepherds, thanks to the AKC’s focus on form rather than function.)

However, after reading this Sports Illustrated article (with pictures) on what happened to Michael Vick’s dogs — and perusing the web site of the Front Range German Shepherd Rescue — I’m rethinking that decision. We might get a rescue dog instead.

In addition to their inherent excellent qualities as dogs, Paul and I found great pleasure in knowing that we had rescued Kate and Abby. Kate was obviously pampered in her previous home, but her orthopedic problems were quite serious. Another family might not have been able to afford the hip replacement surgery and pain management that enabled her to live so well for so long. Abby was not well-treated by her prior owner: she had been pretty seriously neglected by a [something unprintable] only interested in breeding her. She was 20 pounds underweight when we adopted her, and her behavior clearly indicated that she’d only been sporadically fed and watered. So by the kind of life we offered Kate and Abby, we helped them reach their full doggie potential. We saved them. And in turn, they rewarded us with their utmost loyalty. They were truly excellent dogs.

Undoubtedly, I want a young dog. And we’re set on another German Shepherd: we like the steady temperament and strong loyalty that characterizes the breed. So perhaps we should aim for a German Shepherd between six months to a year, so that we can test for hip dysplasia before adopting him/her.

The terrible part is that I can’t possibly spare the time for a new dog until the dissertation is done. So Paul and I will have to endure life without a dog for a few more months. That won’t be fun. However, the prospect of rescuing another dog feels like the right course. It feels like we’ll be honoring all that Kate and Abby were to us and all we were to them — and I like that thought very much.

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