Should you get a second dog? Well, you KNOW the answer: it depends! If you’re constantly asking yourself this question, take our two-dog mom quiz and let us help you get very honest about these five things:
1. Your current dog and his or her personality.
2. Your family and home life.
3. Your physical space
4. Your time and how much of it you have to spare.
5. Your money…and….how much of it you have to spare.
If you want to hear our journey leading us to OUR results (we will ALWAYS have two dogs), go grab something amazing to drink and sit down with us for a while.
Two Dogs By Chance
Throughout most of my childhood and late teens, we were a two-dog family. The choice wasn’t based on any planned decision to have two dogs, but on happenstance. As an avid outdoorsman, my dad always had a sporting dog; before I was five, we owned a Brittany Spaniel, and later we had a gorgeous Irish Setter who lived to be sixteen years old. (You can read about how childhood dogs shaped my life by taking a sneak peek at our book Prologue). When our setter was just a couple years old, we also adopted a lost beagle who came to visit and then took up permanent residence with us.
Thus, when I was a kid, we had two dogs because we could–it was in a time when the only dog food available was cheap grocery-store kibble and veterinary appointments were relatively inexpensive. But the two dogs didn’t really need one another or develop pack behaviors. Our Irish Setter Meg and our adopted beagle Moses were a bit like toddlers – they engaged in parallel play, each happily doing his or her own thing, but neither really engaging with the other. They were more like polite roommates to one another as opposed to dog siblings. So from childhood, I never believed that two dogs could really be better than one.
Only Dog Early Years
Years later, when my husband and I had children of our own and could actually care for a dog as well, we adopted a golden retriever, Maddie, whose owners had returned her to the breeder because they didn’t like the way she walked. Actually, it wasn’t so much of a walk as a bunny hop. (I remember quitting an obedience class Maddie and I enrolled in because the instructor actually laughed at her during a recall race. The rest of the pet parents joined in, pointing at her awkward but joyful gait. It sounds silly, but Maddie, who was expecting praise for a perfect recall, was so embarrassed and confused at their reaction. Anyway, I digress. But lesson here: don’t laugh AT your dog!)
Maddie took us through our three kids’ elementary school years and into middle school, but at ten years of age, she developed an aggressive cancer common to golden retrievers. Hemangiosarcoma killed her within months of her diagnosis in spite of all the conventional and holistic interventions we threw at the disease.
A Home Without A Dog
Maddie’s death was devastating to all of us. Her primary joy in life was simply being near (and preferably touching) her humans. Over the years, she’d become as natural a part of us as our own limbs. Wherever we went, she followed. So, when Maddie died, we lost not only her but a part of ourselves. The house, too, seemed to miss her. It wasn’t merely empty when we returned home but bereft. Her paws padding on the floor, her head shoving open any closed door, her tail sweeping on the hardwoods, were all gone, and we walked around for months in what felt like room after empty room. They weren’t really empty, of course. But they felt it.
One Dog and then Two
Eventually, we adopted Haly, a nine-month-old golden retriever we co-owned with her breeder. After Haly had her first and only litter, we fell in love with one particular puppy of the dozen she birthed. (Note: We explore the controversies of dog breeding in our book downward (sizing) dog. Our breeder was a well-known, dedicated dog guardian who worked tirelessly toward safe-guarding her dogs and their well-being).
Romeo and Haly
We hadn’t planned on adding a second dog, but Romeo…well…he was larger than life and we couldn’t let him go. Haly and Romeo were an amazing mother/son team. Although heavily bonded to one another, they were just as bonded to all of us. They were the two dogs who showed me what a “pack” really is: a powerful bond that improves the life of every member, both canine and human.
Why You Should Get A Second Dog
So, your quiz results (if you haven’t yet taken our quiz, do it now!) will help you determine what’s right for your family. We’ve found that for us, there’s just no question that two dogs are better than one. We love the companionship they provide one another. We love watching their silly sibling spats and rituals. We love that in a two-adult household, there’s always a dog to cuddle, no sharing required. The simple joy they bring to every moment is truly beyond measure. Of course, one dog households experience such simple joy in other ways that are just as meaningful. So regardless of whether now is the time to adopt a second dog, it’s all good, as long as at least ONE pup is rounding out your hearth and home.