Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Dogs

My husband and I have had a lot of conversations lately about having more than one dog. I have never had more than one dog at a time. But, Chale is the first dog that has been completely my responsibility. Every time I see a story on TV about an animal hoarder or some other terrible situation where a dog has been in a bad situation, I want to save that dog and make his life better.

I have friends and relatives who have more than one dog but, to be truthful, a lot of them are not great dog owners. The struggles that they have would likely exist no matter how many pets were in the house. A friend of mine who is a good dog owner said that having two dogs was like having 4 times the work and expense. He is a good dog owner who currently has one dog but who has had two dogs at a time in the past. The food, the training, the vet bills, etc. are already a significant part or our budget. I can't imagine doubling what we currently spend on our animals without sacrificing the financial stability that we have worked so hard to achieve.

Chale has had a lot of health problems over the years. Thinking of all the money that we have spent on him and having that number doubled is difficult to imagine. Even if we were financially blessed enough to afford to properly care for two high maintenance dogs the emotional toll would be too much. The bond that I have with Chale is so strong that I worry about making that connection with two dogs equally. If one dogs needs acupuncture or some other special treatment what will the other dog think when I'm taking that dog to the vet all the time and leaving him alone? How would I not have a favorite? Could I realistically be as emotionally involved in both dogs as I am with Chale? When one of the dogs passed how would I help the other dog cope? Would I replace the deceased dog? How would I know if the old dog was ready for a new brother and how would I select a dog that suited his temperament after he had already lost one brother? The cycle of constantly burying and then replacing one dog while continuing to nurture the other dog would be too much for me to bear. I know that most large dogs live for about a decade. While it is difficult to imagine, I am emotionally prepared to lose my dog when he reaches the end of his life. But I don't think I could continue to care for another dog while watching the first dog age and knowing that his time was limited and then saying goodbye to him.

Unfortunately, some dogs only live for a few years while others live much longer than expected. Going through this emotional roller coaster with two dogs would make me a total wreck. I couldn't deal with losing two dogs close together or having an old dog like Chale with a set routine and then introducing a new dog, like Chale was 8 years ago, into the household. That wouldn't be fair to the dog or to me.

I know that other people do it all the time without all the drama that I've created in my head. But I also know myself and my capabilities. Because really what I want is to rescue hundreds of dogs, not just two. To be in a position where I could start my own little Dog Whisperer ranch and take all the dogs that no one else wants. That would be my dream retirement. If the dogs were my purpose, my job and I had a staff of people to help me run it. That would be amazing. Because I could still have my one pet dog but I could also help other dogs. I just wouldn't have to mother and care for all of the dogs as if they were my own. I could feel like I was making a difference without sacrificing my own sanity.

I'm 33 years old. My husband and I have no plans to have children. I think it really is possible, upon retirement, for my dream to become a reality. Even if its on a small scale I am confident that I will be able to make a difference one day. That knowledge keeps me from running to the German Shepherd rescue down the road every time I hear a sad story on the news. I may only be able to save one a time for now but I know, in the future, I will touch many more.

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