the puppy files: after losing our dear cat, we ask, is it time for a dog?

newcat

This is the first in a series of personal posts chronicling the arrival of a new dog in our home. After doing some reseplace on living with pets and kids, I realized there wasn’t a ton of useful, honest information out there. I hope you’ll enjoy them and find them useful.

Farfalle was an exceptional cat. Everyone who met him agreed. Not one of those cats that hid from you, but rather, he was always close by – curled in laps, perched on shoulders, happily not squirming in our young daughter’s arms. Friends always remarked that his warm nature was more dog than cat like.

He died quite unexpectedly a few months ago from feline leukemia. It was a heartbreakingly sad process to go through. He was under a year old and was born with the illness, unbeknownst to us when we got him. Losing him left a big vacancy in our home.

Immediately we realized that our family was not complete without a pet. Shortly thereafter, the puppy pangs started. After being a cat owner for nearly 20 years (Prior to Farfalle, there was another great feline soul in my life, who lived to the ripe old age 17), I was suddenly wondering: Is it time for a dog? During my single, apartment-dwelling urban years, a cat was the natural companion. Now that I’m part of a suburban-living family unit, it seems time to make the transition from feline companion to dog parent.

Admittedly, it’s been many, many years since either my husband or I lived with a dog, so this is not a decision we’ve taken lightly. True, we grew up with dogs, but pet ownership has changed a lot in the past 20 years. Gone are the days when you train your puppy by covering your floor with newspaper or simply put the dog in the back yard to do his “business.” Now you are encouraged to crate train your puppy, socialize him with doggy playdates, and of course take him for long walks in rain or shine. We are ready to commit to all that, and more. Here are few of the things that helped us decided we were ready for a puppy.

1. We live in a house with a fenced in yard.

2. One of us has a flexible schedule, so the puppy wouldn’t be alone for long hours during the day.

3. Our daughter loves animals and we want to raise her to be respectful and kind to them.

4. We are active people. We like being outside, taking road trips and exploring nature. A dog will, too!

5. We’re responsible – emotionally and financially – and able to commit to caring for another living creature for the rest of its (hopefully long) life.

Once we decided that a dog was in our future, the next step was to do some reseplace on dog breeds to help us get a dog whose temperament would match ours.

— Angela M.

Coming up next in The Puppy Files: Finding The Perfect Breed For Our Family

From our partners
Maria

How exciting for your family. There are so many fabulous young and old dogs in shelters that make wonderful pets.

Robin

Angela, I love this post! Can’t wait to hear what happens! But I feel obligated to add that I hope you consider a shelter pet. These are creatures who REALLY need our compassion and at least our consideration. Many, many times they have even better temperaments that bred dogs, which can have excessive/exaggerated negative traits from inbreeding. In my experience, most shelter dogs have this kind of loyal, grateful quality not found in a bred dog. Plus, of course, adopting a stray helps put a dent in stray overpopulation, animal homelessness and neglect.) I hope you and family at least visit a shelter; you may find just the perfect match! There is really limited predictability for behavior in a pet, bred or shelter. But most connections can be felt instantly (this, you know from having other pets, like the unbelievably gorgeous Farfalle). ok, I’ll shut up now. I wish you guys the best of luck.

I think part of the crate-training, puppy-playdating etc. is due to more urban pet owners that don’t have the luxury of a fenced yard like you do. People I know who can still let their dogs out to run around often seem to have a more traditional relationship with their dogs than the urban pet-owners I know who live in small upstairs apartments and work long hours away from home.

Anyways, this is great and I can’t wait for the next installment!

Ellie

Can’t wait to hear your story. I remember well the checklist of disparate people I introduced my puppy to, the kindergarten classes, the crate struggles and training liver treats, the shaker can and bitter apple. I can’t imagine all of that added to child+pet stuff too. Just know that 4 years on the investment in time was well worth it.

ashley

Crate train, crate train, crate train. You never have to worry about what they are up to when you are not home or at night and it gives them a place to feel is all theirs. Especially with young children it allows them a place to go where they will not be bothered. I have had dogs both not crate trained and crate trained and having a crate for them (even with a fenced yard and dog-safe house!) is invaluable!

I’m so sorry about your kitty. How lucky to have had a family like you!

For your new puppy, I hope that you consider two things: a pound puppy and crate training. I’ve had mutts and pure breeds, and down to a one, the mutts are healthier, more even tempered, and easier to train. Crate training is the greatest thing for a dog and its owners, it gives you both peace of mind. We have a fenced yard, a dog safe house, and very well trained dog, but her crate is her safe space. We call it her “puppy cave.”

Training a puppy when he or she is still a kid (puppy – remember!) can be quite an arduous task. At the same time, there are definitive ways and means by which you can easily teach your puppy numerous skills that will eventually be a source of entertainment on one hand and at the same time.

I’m so sorry for your loss, A. I can’t wait to hear about your new addition. Welcome to the wonderful world of “dog people”!

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