Should you get a second dog? Some things to consider

Mia - when we went to see her in her foster home
Mia – when we went to see her in her foster home

Getting a second dog has been on K’s and my mind ever since we got little Mia home. The more I think about it, the more tempted I am. And who wouldn’t be after seeing pictures of the adorable dogs that Claw (we adopted Mia from this NGO) and the SPCA keep posting! But getting a second dog is a big decision – both for us as well as for Mia.

There are several things that one must keep in mind before adding to the (pet) family. Primarily, will the existing pet be able to adjust with the new addition? Sometimes, a lone dog gets very used to being the centre of attention of the family. It then finds it very difficult to ‘share’ the love. Almost similar to what happens with kids too. If for some reason, the two dogs do not like each other, things are going to be far from great. So much so that you may have to send the new dog back or keep them separate for ever (or a long time at least).

I’ve been told, that it’s a good idea to involve the current dog in the adoption process, i.e. let the dog choose his/her friend! In other words, if we were to go ahead and get a dog, Mia should be allowed to meet and greet the selected dog a few times, before we actually get it home. In case she shows signs of disapproval or dislike, we will have to try with another dog. I quite like this idea as it minimises the risk of the two dogs not getting along to quite an extent. Of course, things may still not work out once the new dog finally arrives at home. But it’s worth a shot.

Another concern is if the first dog is too old. Puppies and young dogs are generally very playful. This may inadvertently cause the older dog a lot of mental and physical anguish. For example, (and I have witnessed this), the old dog is just snoozing quietly, not wanting to be disturbed, and here comes the little one, yapping away! After swatting the puppy gently for the first few times, the old dog loses its patience and gnarls. The owner, unaware of what happened earlier, finds the old dog at fault. So one has to constantly keep watch until the dogs settle in. Leaving them alone is not an option for the first few week, if you are lucky, or months.

The amount of space one has in the house also needs due consideration. Both dogs should have ample area to run around, relax and sleep. For us, with Mia sleeping in bed with us, I am not sure how we can fit another dog in there, unless one of us (K or me), sleep on the floor!

And finally, but very importantly, one needs to consider whether a second dog is affordable. They don’t cost the moon but there are substantial costs involved – neutering, vaccines, occasional vet visits, food, treats, toys and boarding charges when you go away on a holiday. For K and me, in addition to all of this, is the expense of re-locating an additional dog when we move from South Africa. Moving pets internationally can get very expensive. Hence, it’s imperative to weigh the financial aspect as well.

Well, I am as undecided and confused as I was before putting my thoughts in writing, (I had hoped thinking aloud would help!). But one thing that I am absolutely certain about is – ADOPT, DON’T SHOP.



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