Not the Dog You Want, But the Dog You Need

While I am give myself a mental break from work and the website, several of my fellow bloggers have generously agreed to take over my posting duties. Today’s blog was written by a fellow Canadian! Mother of three, the writer of The Dog Park blog somehow manages to stay anonymous. I’ve been reading her posts for a while now and I am always touched by her commitment to her dog and her family. Unfortunately, she doesn’t write nearly often enough for my liking. Knowing how busy she is collecting various degrees, I am grateful she took the time to share her perspective here.

When Kristine asked me to do a guest post, she said topic and length were up to me. I write better on assignment; I need a theme. As the blog is called “Rescued Insanity,” I decided to look there for ideas.

Kristine calls her blog “Rescued Insanity” for two reasons. Reason one, Shiva is both a rescue and insane (in a good way, of course). Reason two, owning a dog rescued Kristine from the insanity of boredom. In addition to twelve pairs of chewed shoes, owning Shiva has given Kristine some structure and goals: daily walks, blog posts, and of course, agility training. So the question is, has my dog rescued me from insanity?

As with Kristine, the answer is both yes and no.

First the “no.” Number one, while I love dogs, there are some breeds I like more than others. I like fluffy little things that can’t reach past your knees, give kisses, and fit in your lap with ease. German shepherds are far down the list. I subconsciously associate them with World War II prisoner-of-war camps, an association reinforced by their modern connection as police dogs. I don’t need a guard dog. I was never interested in owning a dog that looks intimidating or barks too loudly. Our Best Friend strikes out on both counts.

Number two, OBF is highly anxious. We have many friends who are terrified of dogs, and they no longer visit us because I can’t put OBF behind a closed door (say, in my bedroom) and leave him there. He goes mad barking and trying to dig his way out through the floor. I can’t leave him alone in the back yard on leash, either. He barks and howls until we come to rescue him.

With the anxiety comes number three: a high level of nervous energy. He barks hysterically and jumps at the door repeatedly the minute he realizes we’re going for a walk. During the walk, he pulls on the leash. Whenever we put him in the car he goes berserk barking until we get to wherever we’re going. And don’t ask about his prey drive. He walks looking up to find squirrels in the trees. If he sees one, he makes every attempt to scramble right up the trunk to get it. Cats aren’t safe from him either, and I love cats, so that annoys me.

So, in summary, I have an overly-large incredibly anxious German shepherd mix who barks too much, is difficult to walk, a pain to drive around, and chases anything that moves.

So why did we keep him? He was up on Petfinder for six months; I could have left him there longer, and by now I’d have my little white Maltese/bichon cross who would sleep quietly in a basket while we entertain, leaving no fur on the guests’ clothing because, unlike Our Best Friend, my ideal dog wouldn’t shed. Yet we still have him.

One reason we kept him, the silliest reason, was because he’s so beautiful. Yes, he is intimidating, especially for people who don’t care for dogs, but he’s no less beautiful for it. Instead of black and tan like a pure GSD, he is all shades of brown. He has an unbelievably gorgeous, wavy, plumy, Malamute tail. The Spouse tells people he’s going to cut it off and hang it on the wall. Even people who dislike dogs admit he’s a beauty.

Second, although he came with many issues, he also came fairly well trained. He sits. He stays. He doesn’t jump on people. He never, ever, goes in the garbage or counter-surfs. He only eats people food that falls on the floor. He’s easy to feed; I’ve never had him walk away from his bowl no matter what I put in it. He’s non-destructive and we don’t need to crate him. My Oldest taught him a few simple tricks, and he’s quick to learn (everything but the word “Quiet!”). He’s eager to please, even when he doesn’t understand how.

Loyalty-wise, he’s a true shepherd; we are his people, and he needs to be with us. When we first got him, he was fearful and aggressive. Now a dirty look from me makes him whimper rather than growl. He cuddles. In the absence of distractions like squirrels, he always comes when called. He patiently puts up with what he doesn’t love, like very small children who pull his tail, or being brushed or bathed (though he does cry in the bath). And as much as I hate the barking, I feel much better leaving three girls alone in the evening knowing that bark will make people of ill intent think twice.

Finally, Our Best Friend has brought me two things. One, he brought me back to writing, after decades of hiatus. I don’t write regularly, but I am writing, and it’s a start. Two, he brought me a new community of friends, both at the dog park and on-line. As a mother of three trying to juggle too many things, I don’t follow as many blogs as Kristine does, but those I do follow give me my daily smile, and often make me think. My outings to the neighbourhood dog park have filled my life with characters and stories that can, and do, fill many blog posts. There is no question that the dog park saves my sanity. It’s my outlet, my escape, my place to be when I want to be somewhere else. I wouldn’t have that without Our Best Friend.

He’s my partner during the long days with kids at school and the Spouse at work. He’s a hot water bottle on cold days when the furnace is off. He’s my unconditional love fix. He keeps me sane while simultaneously driving me crazy. He’s my dog, for better and worse. And he’s off Petfinder for good.

27 thoughts on “Not the Dog You Want, But the Dog You Need

  1. Oh Lori! Loved this post!

    I think I learned more about you and OBF than I ever knew. I’m so glad Kristine asked you to write (by the way, I agree about the not often enough, but totally understand).

    I had always assumed that OBF was a Newfie. I have no idea why, but I did. I also didn’t know he was a GSD mix (I have always loved GSD mixes). In many ways, many of which you described above, they are the absolute best dogs. I have owned two now and they have been some of the best dogs.
    Just like you, my dog brought me back to writing again. Something I hadn’t done in a long time. It’s nice to know someone else who got to revisit their passion again years later.
    Great post!

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    • Mel, if your e-mail is on your site, I’ll e-mail you a portrait done by a photographer-in-training. I would LOVE a Newf, but THEY ARE SO BIG!!! JenK’s Moses (Back Alley Soapbox) is one of my favourite blog dogs!

      Thanks for the writing praise, my ego is in sore need! 🙂 I love your blog because you wear your heart on your sleeve, and it’s one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen.

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      • I’m waiting for that email Lori!
        I would LOVE to see OBF in a portrait. How nice that you could have that done. I was approached about doing one for Daisy and accepted and then the person backed out when she offered me two choices of backgrounds and I chose the one she liked least. Go figure.
        I would love to see yours though! nodogaboutitblog@gmail.com

        Thanks for your kind comments. I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. It also gets me into trouble sometimes. But thank you for thinking I have a big heart. You are way too kind. (P.S. So glad your post was a hit!)

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  2. I second Mel’s enthuasiasm. Great post!

    I’m very attracted to people who are smitten with someone (or someone) and it’s obvious that you’re smitten with your Best Friend.

    Of course you don’t feature his picture often enough in the blog for us to know just how beautiful he is. I’ve only seen his picture on the blog once. You’re going to have to post a Wordless Wednesday post with a big honking picture of him now that you’ve raved about his looks. 🙂

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  3. I really related to this post. It’s clear you love OBF even if he is not your “ideal dog.” But oh little fluffy pups that fit in your lap, are too short to counter surf, and who don’t have to be walked three times a day. That’s the kind of dog my husband and I planned on before somehow ending up with the exact opposite. I think we kept Pearl at first out of sheer stubbornness and an unwillingness to admit we couldn’t handle her. But you capture perfectly how a “non-ideal” pet becomes a member of the family, for silly little reasons, for big important reasons, and in the end just because they somehow creep into your heart and stay there. Beautiful post, thanks for sharing!

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  4. Agreed with Pamela and Mel… i LOVE when people write with such love because it absolutely comes through just how much you love this pup… even though he isn’t exactly that fluffy, non-shedding, sit on your lap EASILY type of dog.

    Really lovely blog post!

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  5. Ive been saying this for years about Fred. You get the dog you need not the dog you want. Im still trying to figure out what the hell I did to someone to deserve Fred hahahaha

    I love this post – its great. I think that the unperfect dogs are the best.

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  6. This is true in all aspects of life, isn’t it?

    Stumpy was definitely not the dog I wanted. She came to me to rehab and rehome but turned herself into my service dog. I’m quite sure it is part of her evil plan to take over the world, one human at a time.

    Krisitne, you’ve really done a stellar job of choosing guest writers!

    Happy, Waggin’ Tails, FUREVER!
    Stumpy and me

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  7. I have 6 personal dogs among my now 21 rescues at home (one has a foster home). My breed type of choice is the hound family. Ahem – my BF wanna-be (from my perspective) was supposed to be a hound but Justus is most likely mostly Dobermann, a mix. My mind-reader is a long haired tweenie Dachshund mix, Seymour PH (Phillip Hoffman) and my dearest personal rescue is Margie, most likely a Border terrier mix found over two years ago in a dumpster! I LOVE how you are with the dog you needed and not what you thought you wanted. When potential adopters come to me for a dog or advice, I suggest to them to consider their lifestyle, the time they have, their family; then I let them know Greyhounds make super apartment dogs, Beagles are lovers and food addicts, and Coonhounds want the couch….and then tell them, after doing their due diligent homework for the right breed type before they ADOPT, to keep an open mind – their right dog (or BF) may be s “wrong” breed type who chooses them for her family! Lovely post – thank you.

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  8. This is such a good post! I mean, all your stuff is good, but this is above and beyond, and I’m having trouble figuring how to explain why. Suffice it to say, it is.

    Also, it has made me realise I have only seen one photo of OBF to date, and hereby request more!

    (As to the note that Moses is so stinkin’ big – it is true. Alma, on the other hand, is petite by comparison, and I would hazard a guess the OBF is probably taller than her.)

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  9. What a wonderful description of your best bud, both the good and the bad. It is so wonderful that he got you back into writing, and that he gets you out for walks and to the park, and keeps you company when everyone else is out. Dogs are awesome, arent’ they? PS: I had to laugh, because I also wrote about my own Shepherd mix for my upcoming guest post later this week – so stay tuned…

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  10. Would the perfect dog be boring? I don’t know, I’ve never had one:) OBF sounds like he’s come a long way since becoming a member of your family, well done.

    When I see cute little lap dogs I sometimes think that’s what my next dog will be, but I know it won’t. Heck, if I had a lap dog I couldn’t sit at the computer for so many hours when I’m not working!

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  11. I loved reading this post. And I must mention that although it’s creepy and sad, the spider analogy is brilliant. I’d venture to say it also applies to some humans and cats. 😦

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  12. Pingback: The Pet Blogger Challenge, 2012 Edition | The Dog Park

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