November 01, 2012
On the Joys of Adopting an Older Dog
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

So the "other matter" on which I've been working this semester is Baby #3.  At this point, I feel like we're officially joining the ranks of the insane (except of course, for my fellow bloggers Christine, Lisa, and Gordon, who handle 3+ child-parenting with grace and aplomb!).  Baby is due in December, and my semester to-do list includes finishing teaching Corporations and co-teaching an ethics seminar, writing an exam, grading an exam, potty-training Daughter #2, and getting her to share a room and  "big girl bed" with Daughter #1.  Add to that 2 newish writing projects and 4 conferences/colloquia.  To you shaking your head, realize this: ambitious as this might sound, it's much easier to do anything when baby is on the inside.

Then in September our older dog, Meghan, died.  I've tried to write a follow-up sentence at least 10 times, and everything winds up seeming trite or inadequate, so I'll leave it there.  But it was a big change for us: we were a 2-dog household before we had children.  I'd gotten Meghan as a puppy my last year of law school, and she and our second dog, Henry, were ideal dogs for kids.  Mellow and with a firm understanding of the rules of the house (don't steal food or run away; you can loll on whatever furniture you see fit), they spent the majority of each day lying around the house.  Comforting companionship that demanded very little.

About 3 weeks after Meghan's death I added another task to this semester's list: finding a second dog.  It sounds quick, I know, but the loss hit Henry hard: he'd never been a solo dog, and he seemed increasingly depressed and out of sorts.  We all were.  And with a new baby on the way, the task integrating a new dog took on some urgency.

I'm lucky to have friends in the dog rescue community, and so with some trepidation I placed an order for a dog: 1-2 years old, female, housebroken, good with children and with dogs, no major health issues.  I felt guilty about it: Meghan was a 6-week-old SPCA special, and Henry came from a foster home at about 6 months.  I kind of expect to deal with housebreaking, teething, and training when I get a new dog.  Part of the bargain, the responsibility of the good dog owner.  But my friend assured me that plenty of dogs killed at shelters fit my description, and that giving a dog a home was what counted.

So we told the girls we were "fostering" Sweet Pea, who was 4 years old but otherwise fit my order to a T. You can guess the rest. Sweet Pea has gotten out and stolen food a few times, and there have been some casualties as she endeavors to understand the difference between child toys and dog toys.  Her hind foot is a little wonky, as my parents would say, from being hit by a car in her youth and healing incorrectly.

In short, she's perfect. 

I write this post to suggest that, if you're thinking about getting a dog but dread that initial getting-acclimated period because you just don't have the time, you can probably find one that will be pretty easy to adopt. You may even feel guilty about how easy it really is.


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