Guest Dad Post: How Not to Choose the Family Dog

I have been holding on to this post since the summer. Sean Teare has guest posted here before; he is a father of two and a very funny person. My dear old friend, if he is still speaking to me, will update us soon on what has happened since.

Adding a dog to your family should be a simple process. You simply select a breed, find a breeder or adoption center, choose your puppy, buy a leash for said puppy, and bring it home. Or, so we thought.

My wife and I were vacillating between an active or a lazy dog. On a good day—meaning our children had spent the night at a relative’s house, and we had slept for more than five hours without interruption, finished a conversation and actually relaxed, we wanted an active dog. On a bad day, meaning most days, we wanted a lazy dog that took about as much work to care for as a Pet Rock. Our children, on the other hand, didn’t care what kind of  dog we got.  Our son Willy could not have cared less.  He was completely indifferent.  Our daughter Olivia didn’t care what kind of dog we selected either—as long as we did it soon.

Looking for guidance, we reached out to family and friends. We had done this before when we were undecided and choosing names for our children. It didn’t work out well then either.

We would mention a name, and our friends would tell us about someone they knew with that particular name that had questionable character or was a victim of her unfortunate name.  “Oh, I knew a Vanessa and she was a slut!” Or, “You’re not going to name the kid Elliot!  Do you want him to get beaten up on the playground?” These were actual statements from friends.

I happen to like the sound of Vanessa and Elliott. And if your children bear these names, I’m sure that their promiscuity or nerdy traits are just coincidental. We actually considered both names, but we thought our kids would have enough issues coming from our very shallow gene pool. I’m amazed our children are as perfect as they are. Our daughter was actually born with only one kidney. (According to the obstetrician, it had nothing to do with my collegiate pharmaceutical usage.)

Predictably, our experience asking friends for advice on dogs wasn’t much different.  We began our quest by asking our friend Rob who has two dogs, four cats, two horses, and a goat–but no children–what kind of dog we should get. When we told him what type we were considering, he said, “It’s not a fashion statement. You’re adding a family member.  And you’re an active family, so you need an active dog.” We weren’t sure we could trust Rob’s advice because he is the same guy who had the opportunity to join Google in the late 1990s, but decided against it.  He couldn’t see the Internet’s potential when every town had a library. I guess he liked libraries a lot.

Against our better judgment, we took our friend’s advice.  We tried to adopt a Labrador Retriever but were rejected in favor of another family because they had a bigger yard.  Olivia was devastated. Willy was relieved. Phoebe and I were shocked. We didn’t get the dog because our yard was too small.

A short time later, we adopted a Golden Retriever named Molly.  This was clearly a rebound-relationship, and like most rebounds, it didn’t work. And let me be clear about Molly’s temperament. While we loved her, she was the world’s only aggressive Golden. The family we adopted her from failed to mention this.

We had to say goodbye to Molly the Golden a few months later when she allegedly attacked our neighbor’s dog and they threatened to sue us if it happened again. We learned this from the police, whom they called. Our children started crying when the police came to the door because they thought Molly and Mommy were going to jail.

We flirted with the idea of a Labradoodle because Olivia really liked them, and my son seemed to tolerate them. Because the chocolate ones looked like Chewbacca, and he was really into Star Wars at the time. I wasn’t as sure. To me, Labradoodles are the El Camino of dogs: the El Camino is not really a truck, and it is not really a car. I have the same problem with this particular breed. It is not really a lab, and it is not really a poodle. It’s an experiment.

Now, finally, after several years, and a few unsuccessful attempts with ‘active’ dogs, we’ve chosen a ‘lazy’ dog.  We are expecting to bring home a Basset Hound puppy in August.

The Basset Hound is a funny breed.  It looks goofy.  It smells. It drools.  It is difficult to train.  It will run away if it catches an interesting scent. It cannot swim. It doesn’t really like to fetch. And I don’t think the breed has caught a rabbit in generations. It’s essentially a large, expensive hamster.  But it is gentle, lovable, and cute.

So our hound dog probably won’t dazzle our friends with remarkable tricks. It will not impress people with its intelligence. It probably won’t obey most commands. But it will add some unconditional love and laughter to our family. And that’s not such a bad thing.



This entry was posted in Dad Was Here, Family Life, Guests of Mama One to Three, Parenting Moments. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Guest Dad Post: How Not to Choose the Family Dog

  1. Judy Purcell says:

    Thoroughly enjoyable! Growing up, we had a black spaniel who also smelled, was impossible to train, and was overweight, partially because she had a tasty habit of trekking down the country road to snoop into garbage cans of neighbors and eat anything she could find, regardless of whether or not she had just been feed. Trixie was, however, a most gentle and loving dog and a wonderful addition to our family.

  2. Aleta says:

    Cute story and so true about the pet being a new member to the family…. I should have been more careful though. My husband is a dog person and I’m a cat person. When we married, he had a 17 year old cocker-poo and I have a 10 year old Siamese. Both were older animals and they tolerated each other. But when the dog passed away from old age, my husband wanted a puppy. I told Greg to find something he liked at the animal shelter and let me know…. he did…. and she has personality and seemed lovable… but I should have known… we asked the guy working for the shelter to bring her out of the kennel and into the backyard. He did and she ran. And Ran. AND RAN…. Greg asked, “What do you think? Can we take her home?” I replied, “Sure, if you can catch her!” Words that bite me. She’s a hyper dog, VERY hyper, VERY needy dog. She’s sweet… when she’s sleeping. Lol. But she’s here now and she’s ours… just drives me a little batty at times… She’s a mix between Jack Russell and Red Heeler (dog that likes to herd) – both are running, high energy, high maintenance dogs. I’m pregnant for our first child, our boy. I look forward to when our son is old enough to give the dog a good run for the money! 🙂

  3. Sean Teare says:

    Wendy–thanks so much for posting this! And yes, of course I’m still speaking with you 🙂 I’m honored to have my work posted on your blog. I’m glad it generated some great replies about family pets. They’re a lot of work, but I think they really do add a lot of joy and laughter to a family. I recently read a parenting book (I wanted to find out how badly I had screwed my kids up already–they’re 8 &10), and the only thing I can remember is that the author practically demanded that parents get a pet, or at least a stuffed animal–so at least we got that part of parenting right…As for our basset hound, her name is Scarlett (I wanted a southern name for our hound. I plan on spending many hours drinkin’ bourbon on my porch like the good ol’ boy that I’m not while she lies @ my feet drooling), and she’s 7 months old now. She’s everything we had hoped for and our kids love her. Can’t imagine our family without her!

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