Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy — Puppy? Puppy!

Dueling Cabooses

I think we might be getting a new dog. This is recognizably insane, I know. We have a baby on the way, and a new dog? Seriously? Seriously? Yes. Seriously. See, it might be insane, but I believe it is actually the least insane course of action. Here’s why:

We have two dogs now.

One of these dogs is regrettably old. He’s going to be 13 very soon, and he’s an 80-90 lb. Belgian Shepherd. Now, he’s still in okay shape — he’s happy and gets up and down the stairs okay despite a hip wobble, so it’s not like I expect him to go howling into that good night right away, but I also know that… well, his time is coming sooner rather than later.

Our other little dog doesn’t always act like she likes him, but they have a weird kind of bond. If she goes outside, she’ll wait for him — or she won’t budge. If they’re eating bones, they’ll eat them on the floor together (and then she’ll steal his and lay down on her own to use it like a pillow to make sure he gets nothing, so, uhhh, yeah). They learn from one another.

So, in many moons we’ll have a new baby.

And in many moons (hopefully more than we expect), we’re going to lose a dog to old age.

And we want to always have two dogs.

We could just wait — but, assuming that old dog herds himself off this mortal coil sometime within the child’s first year or two of life, that means we’re going to have to get a new dog at the same time as having a new baby. The other two options are: a) just forget about two dogs and keep the Taco Terrier by herself or b) suck it up and get a new dog now so by the time a baby comes we’ll have a loosely acclimated animal.

We don’t really want to leave the one dog alone, though, because a pair of dogs can occupy one another — and I think it’ll provide a good distraction for her when the new baby comes. If it’s just her, then… well, she’s going to feel a bit lonely, I’m afraid.

(And yes, I did ponder the “Get A Secret Puppy For Christmas” trick — but I don’t think you buy anybody a dog for Christmas in the same way you don’t buy anybody a car for Christmas, despite what all those bullshit commercials tell you. Some things are just too personal to be a “surprise” under the tree. If someone gave me a car and spent scads of money on one I don’t really want, I’d kick them square in the squaw-hole. Same with a puppy — you want to go out and find the right one for the family, not the one you think is right for the family.)

So. Yeah. A third dog.

We’re effectively trying to get the old dog to train his replacement. Which is yes, kind of sad and fucked up, but also kind of practical and necessary. I think.

Taking suggestions and recommendations, of course. Are we crazy? What kinds of dogs do you think go well with “new kid in the house?” Share your secrets. Scream it so the cheap seats can hear.

Black & Tan in Black & White


  • I think it is sad and unfortunate about the dog that is older…but I think getting a third dog is a good idea if you always want two. We have three dogs ourselves and once you are caring for two already, the third one doesn’t seem like much extra work at all. We have a mini Aussie who is about 20 lbs, a Keeshond/Sheltie mix who is about 40 lbs, and an Alaskan Malamute who is 90+ lbs. They are all fantastic dogs for different reasons, but the Keeshond mix and the malamute ADORE children for what it’s worth. I have found almost any dog in the “spits family” of dogs to be fun, loyal, companions. Good luck and congrats on your baby and potential new puppy! 🙂

    • Heh. The “spits” family.

      No, no, all good. Thanks, Michelle — good advice, no doubt. That’s the hope — that a third dog will, at present, not add a ton of work (as opposed to having a new dog at the same time as having a NEW HUMAN BEING HOLY CRAP).

      — c.

  • I see your point of view it’s very messed up that he’s getting so old, but unfortunately that happens. I agree, IMO I think you should get another dog to help prevent the dog left from being jealous of the baby. I had an English Mastiff, sweetest dog ever. I’d get another one in a heartbeat if I could afford to take care of it properly. Good Luck and twitpic when you get it. 🙂

    • @Andrea —

      No doubt — hopefully it will prevent some of that jealousy, yes.

      English Mastiff. Diggit.

      I also know retrievers are great with kids — soft mouth, no bite.

      — c.

  • I’ve only ever had Chows, and those just don’t seem like they’d be what you need. Granted, a well bred and well trained Chow Chow wouldn’t mind your little taco dog or the kid – but it would take a lot of work getting it comfortable with things smaller than it. And even so, they tend to get territorial, possessive (particularly of a person) and even more stubborn as they age. So probably not the best fit for you guys.

    You could always try for another Belgian Shepard. Or – and this is the course I most recommend – visit your local shelters and spend time getting to know a few of the pooches.

  • That “hip wobble” triggered the memory of my long-gone and mourned Newfie’s hip displasia and the difficulty of dealing with a crippled dog that weighs more than you do. Smaller dogs live longer and are less likely to wind up with hip problems. I’d try to stay with 60 pounds or under. Longer, happier life for all concerned.

  • Sorry the older dog is getting, well, older. Can I recommend whippets? They’re unbelievably gentle with people – including new babies – and other dogs, and have a terrifically affectionate & fun personality, despite looking like a sketch of a dog…

  • We have a lab/retriever mix affectionately known as The Ancient of Dogs. She just turned 17, and let me say, I’m thankful she’s not too big for me to help up and down the stairs. She’s been an awesome dog for the family, busy enough to entertain growing boys, smart enough to give them wide berth if they got too rough. Of course, now she sleeps 23 hours a day…

    We’re holding off on getting a new dog, but when it’s time, we’ll probably head to a rescue shelter. No more puppies for this gal. Puppies are too much work for all that cute. But, like you said, it’s got to be the right one for the family. Good luck in the great hunt.

  • Puppy! PUPPY! Yes, get a puppy. Do it now!
    As to kind? Honestly, just go to the local shelter and see what they have and save a dog/puppy. One of them there is apt to pull a heart string and force you to take it. They’re very good at that. 🙂
    Have to agree you all’s thought processes seem sound (for once? Heh) and getting the new puppy/dog now might be best. And you’d be helping a canine as well, so that won’t hurt a bit.
    Just make sure we get to see pics of the new family addition. 😛

  • We have four dogs; three Jack Russells (they came with the wife) and my dog, who is a german shepard/golden retriever mix. He is by far the gentlest dog I’ve ever owned. Big and fluffy, puts up with kids, puts up with the crazy russells throwing themselves at his face, doesn’t hassle the cats, ignores deer, good at the bark park, etc.


    He’s getting long in the tooth as well. I’ll miss him when he’s gone.


  • I’ve heard from friends that the book Right Dog for You by Daniel F. Tortora is great for picking a dog. It’s supposed to help you pick the right type of dog for your lifestyle and all that stuff. We got a lab mix seven years ago, only to figure out she’s much higher energy dog than her humans. I love her to death, but some days it sucks to have such a high energy dog. I definitely want a lazier, calmer dog next go round. But, puppies are cute, an she suckered me in. 🙂

  • You make me want a puppy!

    Seconding any and all retriever recommendations. I’ve often heard that labs are the best, but people say a lot of things that aren’t necessarily true.

  • A black or chocolate lab?
    The best dog I ever had was an Afghan but I’m sure you won’t get one of them. I’ve had some experience of golden retrievers and if you want a dog that smells and could require an enormous amount of activity, go for it.

    • Goldens smell? I never noticed any particular odor — we had two growing up. And any retriever is going to need activity — that’s just how they roll, I think.

      But that can be good with kids because, hey, kids are active, too.

      — c.

  • First of all, as to crazy, yeah. You’re crazy. Whole world’s crazy. Nothing to be done about it. Who knows? A third dog, maybe it can help herd the crazy around.

    As to what dog to get, we always get ours from the pound. I don’t believe in the whole breed thing, I just believe in dogs. Go to the pound, get a few of ’em out, see how the are with you, and take home the one you like. It’s worked for us so far.

    • I should note that our local pound… well, sort of sucks. They’re young and uppity and don’t give out dogs easily — I understand this to a point, but they’re just as likely to turn you down for adoption as not despite meeting a whole host of dubious requirements. (While we have a fenced-in yard, I don’t see how that’s a requirement. A dog in a fenced-in yard could be totally unexercised and undisciplined, while an apartment dog might get tons of exercise in a day if the owner takes the proper care).

      Now, we do have a bunch of no-kill shelters and rescues in the area, so we’ll go to those. But the local pound has been nothing but frustration for years.

      — c.

  • Your rationale seems sound to me. I volunteer at an animal shelter so let me share a little of the other side: Be aware that some rescues may not dig on the ‘baby on the way’ scenario. Lots of pets are returned from families with new babies or very young children for “lack of time” or for being “too active/too aggressive”. (I personally witnessed someone return a kitten because “it attacked my daughter”. The kitten pounced on her feet, which were wiggling under a blanket. I digress). Unfortunately shelters and rescues have to play the odds game: fenced yard means less chance of escape and better odds that the dog has a place to roam. A good shelter/adoption counselor will talk to you enough to find out if you really are in that 5% of apartment dwellers that can handle a large-breed dog.

    Anyway. I think it’s a fine idea. The trick will be finding a dog that gets along with your current canines, which are quite disparate. You need a dog that likes: big dogs, small dogs, old dogs and young dogs AND small children. It may take a while to find such a creature. I advise another male as a companion for the female Taco Terrier. Female/female can turn into a power struggle.

    Goldens and Labs are great family dogs but very high energy when young. Rottweilers are actually also great with kids and they are a bit lower-energy. Staffordshire terriers and American Pit Bulls are actually great breeds as well, they are truly “couch potato” dogs and generally very mellow. Lab/Pit and Golden/Pit mixes can also be great family dogs. We have a Lab/Pit that’s a rescue and she is unflappable, my toddler nephew can beat on her and pull her ears and she won’t even bark.

  • I know I”m late to all of this, but my sister got a brand new puppy after Jack was born and when she knew she was pregnant with Chloe. She was excited and thought that they could deal with the two growing up together.

    The problem is she chose a big dog breed (Black Lab) and when they are puppies they are energetic, mischevous, and love to chew things. Petey literally is devouring stuffed animals and Jack’s toys right now and there’s not much we can do. There’s also the fact that Petey grew to be much bigger than Jack and he routinely bumps him around or knocks him over. IT’s not on purpose, Petey is just a big dog.

    I know someone else mentioned getting an older dog from the pound and you said that your local shelter sucks, but have you looked at getting a dog from a rescue? Rescue dogs can be just as loving and you might be able to get one that is only a few years old. If you check with the owners (and the owners are reputable) you can get one that is stable and not feral.

  • I’ll weigh in on the grumpy/cynical/practical/exhausted end of the spectrum, as befits a 40-year old. Hold off on the dog. You will, essentially, be an entirely different person after the baby arrives, married to someone else who has undergone the same radical self-transformation. The two you two are now may want a dog and be able to handle one just fine. Post metamorphosis? Who can say? Best to wait and see, says grumpy old Stolze.


    • Greg —

      Thing is, we already have two dogs and have worked very hard to be a “two-dog household.” While I expect a not insignificant transformation, I don’t know that I expect to become some radically different human being, and further I don’t expect our love of dogs to change — I’ve always had dogs around me, from very young to this point, and I intend to keep that going. It’s just a matter of finding the right dog, I think.

      Then again, maybe my cocoon will hatch and I will emerge, hungry for canine flesh.

      — c.

  • You guys seem to go with smaller dogs, so I would suggest Corgis or English Bulldogs. Corgis do tend to want to herd little kids and nip at the heels, but overall they are great. English bulldogs are very patient with little kids, getting pounced on and ears pulled doesn’t bother them much.

    • @Raf —

      Oh, we only have one smaller dog. The other is a medium-large dog (80-90 lbs). We’ve been thinking medium next (40-60), but yesterday fell in love with a family member’s golden/lab mix — sweet, gentle, loving pooch.

      — c.

  • 90 lbs? That’s nothin’, haha. Labs and Retrievers are famously great, but seriously, get a Corgi (or four), because I believe they’re the greatest breed of dog ever 🙂

  • I’m a firm believer in at least two dogs and letting the old train the new. As far as breed goes, my husky-malamute mix is an ideal dog. He’s smart, not a barker, impressively wolfish, and acknowledges me as the leader of our two-parents-three-kids-three-dogs-two-cats-and-a-lizard pack. The fact that he thinks my husband is his dog-food-dish-filling-treat-getting bitch is one of the more entertaining aspects of his personality.

  • I’m offering no advice, kuz I have none to give, but I will say that we’ve been considering a puppy as well. Our situation is that we’ve just bought an in-town house with a sizable, fenced back-yard, we have no kids, an mid-aged large cat that does not play well with others.

    Personally and professionally we had to consider other things as well. I work away from home fairly regularly, I’m trying to keep it down to 2-weeks out of the month, but one has to pay the mortgage somehow, and my wife has health issues that limit her walking mobility and have deterred us from trying for a kidlet at this point, but we hope that it’s possible to have one or two in the future.

    So we want an indoor/outdoor dog that’s calm but protective, can take the cold if we have to put him outside in the winter for a while. Personally I love big and mid-sized hounds, but I don’t think they’d be ideal. There’s a litter with a few Mastiff-cross puppies at the pound that sort-of tickle my nipples, but ultimately I have to consider my wife first on this one because she’s the one that has to be home with it and take the big lug for walks.

    Right now, we’ve been seriously considering a Bernese Mountain Dog. They’re big (which I like – the imasculated wimp that I am 😉 they’re rescue dogs, they’re bread for the cold, and they’re calm and respond well to reward-training so teaching the pup to behave on a leash shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

    We have a friend who’s explained the ins and outs of breeder dogs, and while we’re still entertaining the idea of getting a pound dog, the health guarantees that come with getting a pup from a registered breeder are a nice perk. It costs a bit more, but vet bills are expensive too.

    Hope you had an awesome Christmas.


  • Any puppy, gotten AS a puppy, is going to be some work, so you’re smart to do it (or think seriously about doing it) NOW. The older dog–providing she takes to the young’un–will help you a lot with potty training and teaching the routine of the house.

    My second biggest recommendation is a shelter, a pound, a Petsmart rescue event, along those lines. Hell, check out the Best Friends (bestfriends.org) site; they often have puppies and they provide a lot of personality info on their older adoptables, too.

    My biggest recommendation is temperament testing. The Monks of New Skete have a great one, which you can find here: http://www.camelotshepherds.com/Temperament%20Testing.htm It needs to be done with a very young puppy, and in my experience, it’s a very accurate gauge of what you’re going to get in your grown dog.

    Although I will someday have a Malamute (my favorite breed), I’m a firm believer in mixes. My Linus was a German Shepherd/Malamute/Lab mix and he was the best dog I ever met, much less had in my life. He lived to be 15.5 years old, kind of a miracle, for a 105 lb dog.

    Anyway! If you’re not afraid of hair (and that sweet old 13 year old baby shows me you’re not), you might think about a Newfie. They’re calm, goofy, and tend to love pretty much everyone and everything. They’re notoriously GREAT with kids, as well.

    I wish you all the best!

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