By Maria Duffy. First published on Monday 5th November 2012. 39 Comments so far.

Doggie dilemma

I may regret saying this, but there’s a possibility that we (my husband and I) may cave in to our children’s pleas and get ourselves another dog. The thought of it fills me with joy, excitement and complete and utter fear. Let me explain the fear bit.

Some years ago, we decided to get a dog. Never having a dog myself, I was shocked and delighted by how he quickly became part of our family. Jeepers came to us as an eight week old pup and grew into a beautiful golden cocker spaniel. We all adored him. He was clever, playful and the gentlest dog you could imagine. Until one day he bit a child. I won’t go into the details because it still makes me sad to think of him, but he was in a situation where he felt cornered and just snapped. We had him examined by behavioural experts and eventually re-homed. Thankfully we didn’t have to put him down, but it didn’t stop us all crying ourselves to sleep for a long time. I never thought I’d feel that way about an animal.

It’s now a couple of years on and we still talk about him and one of my children even has pictures of him on her bedroom wall. My husband and I said at the time that we’d never get another dog but now we find ourselves in a situation where the children are begging to get one. I’m slowly coming around to the idea but my husband still needs some convincing. Here’s an example of the conversation that went on over dinner the other night:

“I want a white, cuddly, fluffy dog,” said Enya. “One that’s little and cute and doesn’t grow big.”

“No way,” said Eoin. “If we get a dog that looks like a rat, don’t expect me to bring it out for walks or anything. I want a big, lively dog.”

Roisin joined in. “I don’t care what type we get – I just want a dog.”

“Well I don’t really care either,” said Conor, “once it’s not one of those you put into handbags and once it’s not bigger than me.”

“Can we get one that doesn’t bite?” asked Enya.

“And one that doesn’t shed?” That was me thinking of my new sofa!

“So who’s going to bring it for walks and clean up after it?” said the voice of reason, my husband. “If we get a dog, I don’t want to be left with all the jobs like I was before.”

There was a few seconds stunned silence. This was the first time he’d shown any interest, albeit a reluctant one, in getting another dog.

Then they all spoke at once. Of course they’d help. They’d all walk the dog and take turns cleaning up. They almost fell off their chairs with enthusiasm and if you were to believe them, they’d be the best dog-owners ever! So anyway, our minds aren’t made up yet (and that translates into ‘we haven’t convinced my husband yet!’) but if we do get a dog, I want it to be the right one for everyone. I’ve been doing some research online, but I know that the best way to get information is from personal recommendation. So anyone who has a dog or knows anything about them, can you please leave a comment below – all advice would be much appreciated. Maria x

39 comments so far

  • Poodles. Easy. They are very smart, easy to train, don’t have that ‘doggy smell’ some people find offensive and don’t shed.
    The downside? Grooming. Up here it’s £35 per dog (toy poodle) and you need to be prepared to fork this out every 6 – 8 weeks. You also have to be careful with their ears and pluck them – less vile than it sounds, honestly. People judge the dogs unfairly because of the silly haircuts some have, but I get mine clipped short all over, apart from the top knot. I also get their ears shaved and that helps to keep them clean and easy to look after. You knew I was going to say poodles, right…?

    • Yes, Nettie. I knew you were going to say poodles! But I was looking them up online last night and they really do seem like a good option. Are yours toy poodles? I was looking at the standard ones, which seem to be a bit bigger but still a lovely temperament. That’s a lot of money for grooming though, isn’t it? But I’ve seen pictures of yours and they’re gorgeous. Do you know anything about Labradoodles? They popped up when I was googling last night and seem like a good option too. Thanks for your advice. x

      • Mine are toy poodles. A real big character in a wee body. Miniature poodles are a bit bigger, but not as mahoosive as the standard. Standards are awfully bouncy, as are labradoodles which can, I am told, be a bit manic and mental – but in a good natured way. For a small, low-shedding dog, why not consider something like a jackapoo, cross between a Jack Russell and a toy poodle. They really are supersmart, arepoodles!

  • We have two dogs, We don’t have children so they take up that portion of me that needs to love and take care of something. Its not like I dress them or read them stories, but we do have very one sided conversations and of course they agree with everything I say. As much as I am all for a resuce dog, you do have to be careful, I have had a rescue dog who whilst fine with me and the other half, would have quite happily mauled anyone who stood between him and the last sausage. If you have a breed in mind, try to see the puppy with its mother and father, lets face it we will all turn into our mothers and fathers anyway so dogs are no different. You have been unlucky with your poor fellow before, but it was just not a good match and that can happen. They do bring such joy and a great ice breaker in any situation, illness, arguments, bereavement and indeed that rather pretentious jogger that really needs something to chase him. Of course, everyone will tell you Dogs are for life and I have to say once you really find that match it is true.

    • That’s all such good advice, Gillian. Thanks for that. I’d love to rescue a dog from a pound but considering the last experience we had, I’m reluctant to get a dog that I can’t be sure of its origins. I think it’s a really good tip to look to see the mother and father. I’ll let you know what we decide. x

  • If you want a gentle dog a king charles is the way to go. I’ve had mine 9 yrs and love him to death, he gets jumped on and pulled by all my nieces and nephews and is still a gentle old soul. I think dogs are a grt addition to family. If you need to know anything else just ask happpy to help.

    • Yes, I’ve thought about those. They’re gorgeous little things. A friend of mine had one up until recently and my kids loved her. It’s definitely one to consider. Thanks for the recommendation. x

  • The excitement when there’s finally hope…we’re getting a dog!. 11 years after losing my last friend to senility, Ive just got a new puppy. Not so little, as she’s now a 9 month old boxer. Mad and beautiful she makes me laugh out loud every day. Doesn’t smell thinks she is human and will stay a lunagtc until about 2 years old. She sheds fine red hair and rubs all over my newly washed floor wirh muddy paws

    • Thanks for that. Yes, boxers are fabulous. A friend has one and it’s like a gentle giant. I’m not sure if it would be too big for what we’re looking for though. I know they’re really child friendly but I feel we’d need a bigger garden for one. I’m not ruling them out though! Thanks again. x

      • One of mine is a Boxer and although he is as soft as sand, he can really knock the wind out of you if you get in his way. He has a head like a bowling ball and no sense of direction. My other hound is a Wire Haired Hungarian Viszla, ( he is not clipped so looks like a blond yeti) now if there was a breed that could channel Norman Wisdom that would be it. They are similar to a labradoodle who I know have a very good
        reputation with Children and of course Ian Waite.

  • We are in almost the same position except its a first dog. Kids have us plagued and seeing the youngest lean over the goldfish bowl and saying “Come on now be a good boy and eat all your food” to the goldfish makes me feel so bad but just not sure I want the responsibility of being a dog owner!

    • Thanks for your comment, Angela. They have a way of making you feel guilty, don’t they? I think I’ve reached a point where I feel so guilty by not getting them one, that I’m ready to cave in! It’s definitely a big responsibility though and not something that should be entered into lightly. I’ll let you know what I do. x

  • Hi Maria, I have 2 dogs, a Border Terrier pedigree which we bought as a puppy and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier which we rescued but also from a puppy. I had owned a bull breed before so was knowledgable and experienced. I love terriers having grown up around them and if you want a big dog in a little body then a Border or Jack Russell are fabulous characterful dogs and great fun. I would beg you though to visit a rehoming centre and get a dog there. I will never again buy from a breeder . My rescue dog is loyalist, most obedient dog I have ever owned and they have so many dogs wanting forever homes x

    • Hi Kate. Thanks for that. Your dogs sounds wonderful. I do love the idea of going to a pound to rescue a dog but my fear is that I won’t know where the dog has come from and won’t be able to judge the temperament. After our last experience, we want to make sure we get a dog that’s good with kids and very gentle in general. I definitely won’t rule it out though. x

      • If you do decide to get a rescue dog, get a puppy, 8 to 12 wks old, then they have no prior history and will be moulded by you. I would find it hard to re home an adult dog with unknown origins especially with a child to consider. My rescue dogwas 10 wks old when we got her and has a much gentler nature than the other one who’s mother I did meet !!! They have lots of pedigree breeds in the centres so you may well find the breed you are after there x

  • Maria – I’d go with a purebred mongrel!! My first dog was a golden cocker and he could be very snappy. However we (my parents & I) put up with him and he lived till he was 13. My last dog, and my current one are both rescue dogs. Pippin was a collie cross (according to the vet!) and I think the other dog was possibly a Staffie. Pippin was really gentle and playful – but a terror as a pup as she ate EVERYTHING! (including the side of a sofa, about half a chair and yards of lino/carpet! – not to mention various shoes, soft toys etc). My current dog, Tikka, is a setter/spaniel cross (possibly a Llewellyn setter – but not purebred I don’t think) – she is the gentlest, sweetest dog you could wish for – though she’s really more interested in stalking birds than anything else – it’s the gundog genes. She’s had kids attempt to climb on her back, pull her ears and her tail – and has never as much as raised a lip in anger. She can growl a bit at other dogs if they ‘get in her face’ but she’ll never initiate any agression. I’d recommend you go to either the DSPCA or Dogs Trust and talk to them about the kind of dog you want – they know what they have and the type of home/family each dog would suit. Plus, of course, never ever buy a dog from an ad in a newspaper – they’re probably from a puppy farm. If you do want to purebred, get in touch with the Kennel Club – or your local Vet – they can put you in touch with genuine breeders. I can’t imagine a home without a dog – I’ve had a dog now for over 30 years and the house would seem empty without one. Good luck with your choice.

  • Hi Maria, we have a shitzu – small dog (do Eoin but definitely NOT a handbag dog! Very robust; enjoys long walks up on the moor in all weathers but equally happy with a run round the garden – useful when everyone’s busy! They’ve got a great reputation for being really good family pets. We love her!
    It’s a big decision, and I feel for you after what happened previously but I hope your man gives in soon!!

  • I have had many breeds over the years as have my parents too. I highly recommend the Border Terrier. Terriers can have a reputation but the Border is an ideal size, cuddly but not a ‘toy’ breed. They are the calmest of terriers, very trustworthy, non destructive as puppies, highly intelligent and eager to please. Playful but will settle when asked to. Will be happy walking for miles but equally happy playing with toy and simply cuddling. Easy to house train. Overall, a fantastic little breed with no health issues, a hardy little dog indeed. Good luck xxx

    • Ooh you’re really selling them to me! I loved the pic of yours you tweeted. A lot of people have tweeted me about Border Terriers – they seem to be very popular and make great family dogs. I’ll definitely bear them in mind. Thanks. x

  • Never say never xx Have you ever seen a Keeshond? I’ve owned two of that breed and they get to about 50 pounds tops …. about a bit over 3 stone for y’all…. Anyhow, they’re gorgeous highly trainable dogs that are eager to obey and please the master. Downsides are they do tend to “talk” and they like being with the family at all times. Beagles are great for kids, but they have tons of energy lol….

  • OK, I’m going to echo what I said on Twitter and tried to post earlier:
    Firstly, make sure you’re husband is 100% OK with this – he *will* end up being the main (only) walker/poop-scooper etc. He might be OK with that, but you need to check.
    Secondly, I’d avoid smaller dogs in general (especially Bichon Frises – never met a nice one!) – I’ve found them to be snappy and nervous (and I usually get on brilliantly with all animals) – the only exception (as mentioned above) is Cavalier King Charles Spaniels which always seem to be happy and easy-going. But you might be nervous of spaniels after your last experience.
    I’m a Border Collie fan – massively intelligent, but need lots of exercise and stimulation and can sometimes be nippy if they don’t get enough.
    Perhaps consider a labradoodle; they seem to combine both qualities – the laid back, dopey nature of labs and the non-shedding fur of poodles!

    • Thanks for persisting and managing to get your comment posted! I think hubby is only too aware that the majority of the walking, etc, would be left to him so that’s why he’s so reluctant. But we’ll see if we can talk him around. That’s good advice about the breeds. I’ve done a lot of online research and I’m really liking the idea of the labradoodle amongst others. I think if we do decide to go ahead, we’ll definitely be taking on board what everyone has said – after the last experience, we’d be very cautious. Thanks again.x

  • We’ve had several breeds but Harry the bichon frise has been the most entertaining. Don’t be put off by the pics of the ones which look like powder puffs! Really all they need is a regular trim of their curls. They don’t shed and the boys are about the size of a Scottie dog. They enjoy walks but don’t need as much as lots of other breeds. Even at 11 years old Harry still tears around when the mood takes him. They’re very clever (sometimes too clever) and love people. Just one proviso: although they’re small they shouldn’t be left all day on their own as they get bored – though you could say that about all breeds.
    I was so sad to read about what happened to your cocker. We had one of those til recently and loved her to bits.

    • Hi Janet. Thanks for that. Bichons seem to be very popular and sound like a lovely family dog. I work from home so would be here most of the time. And yes, very sad about Jeepers. He was such a gorgeous dog, full of character and so gentle. It was just very unfortunate. Thanks again. x

  • just because you have had one bad experience does not mean to say it will happen again. Just make sure the next dog is not left in a vulnerable situation where it has to defend itself maybe.

    Can i suggest perhaps getting an older dog from Dogs Trust or somewhere similar. These dogs have a history and are in the homes for no fault of their own, often the owner has died or gone into a home themselves. At least you will know what the adult character is like.

    Dogs in the family are such a great addition. My four kids were brought up with Golden Retrievers and they were all children together really.

    Whatever you decide, do it as a family, don’t let anyone pressurize anyone else and go with gut instinct.

    Our fabulous dog behaviourist, Karen Wild, @wildpaw on Twitter has a great website and will I am sure be happy to advise you..

    Good luch… Di xx

    • Thanks for that, Diana. I hadn’t really thought of an older dog but it’s definitely an option. I know our experience was probably a once off, but it does make us nervous about having another dog. I’ll go and check out Karen wild’s website now. Thanks again. x

  • Westies are great characters and good family pets. They’re small (ish), white and fluffy, but my cousin used to say that they were a small dog that a man wouldn’t feel silly taking for a walk, so one of those might fit all your children’s preferences? They definitely don’t look like a rat. 🙂

  • Just drop into Dogs Trust with an open mind. They’ll listen to you and point you in the right direction. They won’t place a dog with you unless it suits you all. Go visit them. My own view is that It’s usually the dog that will choose you Maria, not the other way around 🙂

  • Hi Maria,

    The best dog I have ever had, is a Yellow Lab…
    They are great with children a wonderful family dog.
    Smart,loving,loyal and full of personality!

    Definitely do extensive research on this bread as I did because, many purebred dogs can have health issues.

    Good and responsible breeders that are trying to better the breed, by not breeding within the same state.
    Here are some things you should look for. (Watch out for backyard breeders)

    1. Make sure you see the fathers papers as well as the mothers
    2. Make sure he wasn’t breeding before the age of 2yrs.. (Same with mother)
    3. Look at the dogs family health history – Hips should all say excellent or good on both sides of mother and
    4. Visit breeders on their property – Disposition of both mother and father (ask to see mother and father!) hyperactive, shy, doesn’t listen to commands,dirty property or dogs – RUN! If the breeder can’t produce papers at your visit – RUN! If they are not registered with the Kennel Club- RUN! (you should be able to see their bloodline ALWAYS!) When you see the mother and father, they should immediately greet you with wagging tails and be happy to see you (no growling or teeth should be happening) Bring your children..
    5. If the breeder has a problem with you seeing the mother / father and only want to show you the pups RUN!
    6. The mother and father should be willing to let you look in their ears, pick up their feet, look at their teeth and let you rub their bellies with absolutely no problem (same with pups) If they show resistance- RUN!
    7. Visit more than one breeder even if everything looks good…
    8. Ask who their vet is – get their phone number (call the vet and ask if the female has had regular visits)
    The breeder should not have a problem with this!
    9. Aways get a Lab at 8 weeks – Anything over that is too old . What happens is they start bonding with their litter mates and have a harder time bonding with their new human family..

    I chose a Lab because I wanted a dog that could handle children.. A dog that was not fragile. A dog that I could run with. Labs are very smart and easily trained.. They love to play and are great companions .

    I researched for one year to find my beautiful boy (Harley) . I also – the same as you, had heartbreak..
    I made sure that I would never go through that again!
    So really take your time ..
    I think your husband would really like this breed.. My husband felt like he had a manly dog lol…
    My husband was apprehensive as well until, I showed him a picture of a lab puppy and involved him in my search:0)

    Dont let the Movie Marley and Me scare you lol.. But there is a lesson to be learned. Don’t ever get a dog at a discount… Any breeder that says that? Yes , you guessed it – RUN! Although Marley was a beloved wonderful dog that had a wonderful personality as every dog does… Unless you have the money for a dog behaviorist and the patience of a saint don’t do it …

    Adoption is always a wonderful thing.There are many dogs that need a good home. You could do this with Labrador rescue … Just make sure you know why they are up for adoption and they have full history on the dog. I adopted a little Shorkie (Yorkshire Terrier and Shitzu mix) from a puppy farm and she is adorable!
    Harley(my Lab) loved Mia and was so gentle with her, she was only five pounds lol.. Mia needed a home desperately and is happy and healthy.. In fact, All of my pets are rescue animals except for Harley.

    I also wanted to mention that I went to a certified dog training school .This really helps your puppy learn how to behave with you, but also with other dogs and people. I did this because I needed to learn a few things too lol. I did basic obedience first (sit, stay,and heel. Then I decided to go to another level (Hand signals). I could give commands with just my hands. Then the next class we did was the obstacle course. We loved this class! Especially Harley, It was a fun time for him and me. This teaches your puppy confidence and to be obedient at the same time..

    I could take my dog anywhere and I did.. I could take Harley to my friends house, to the dog park, to the vet and the pet store without a leash confidently! So worth it!
    I miss Harley dearly, he was wonderful.

    I enjoyed your Doggie dilemma and enjoyed sharing with you (didn’t mean to write a novel lol)

    Good luck to you 🙂

    ~Deana Meadows

  • sounds a lot like my house, exact same conversation seems to have been taking place for the last year! Now, one seems to have jumped ship slightly, found note to santa asking for a rabbit – any winning here? Can’t see the German Sheperd that hasn’t yet been agreed on liking that too much! Enjoying your blog!

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