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Dogs: Like Another Hole in the Head…


Want another dog? The corgi rescue has a black-and-red male they’re trying to adopt out. This little dog doesn’t show at their site, but the Rescue Lady has been back and forth over the e-mail for the past week or so, figuring she’s found a soft touch. 😉

She tried to get me to take a pair—a female with her teats full of milk and her presumed mate, found wandering loose in the streets. But there’s a limit.

The limit may be one: Cassie the Corgi. Few people need more than one dog, and I’m definitely not among the elect.

Cassie might benefit from a doggy companion. Even though I’m not working and my social life is minuscule, I’m busy most of the time with writing, editing copy, and the daily survival chores. Most of the time she’s content to loaf around. But there are some signs she’s developing a few neuroses.

She’s become obsessive about balls. Every waking moment is spent petitioning the human to throw the ball for her to chase after. This can be quite a nuisance. Once in a while a ball game is great fun. But every time you turn around?

More ominously, because I live in almost perfect solitude, she’s becoming desocialized. Two walks a day are not enough to keep up her human skills, even though we often meet people who burble over her cuteness and we often meet children who come over to pet her. Last weekend we went to a party at M’hijito’s house. All his friends are spawning just now, and so three infants and a toddler were part of the mix.

Cassie normally dotes on children. But when the toddler, a little girl, tried to pet her, she acted as though she were being tortured. Each time the child touched her or even reached out toward her, Cassie shrieked like someone was beating her. The kid was not hurting her, not pulling her hair, not grabbing her ears, not yelling or squealing. The dog didn’t make any move to snap at the child, but she behaved like she was in pain.

It was strange behavior, especially for a dog that’s normally friendly and happy around children.

So I’m thinking maybe another dog to play with would benefit her. Doggy mentally, that is.


Experience shows, however, that getting another dog does little or nothing to quell the first dog’s quirks and neuroses. Anna H. Banana was bananas, all right; M’hijito has called her “bat-shit crazy.” She was just as wacky about balls and rope toys as Cassie has become, and she also believed she could speak English. She would often try to carry on conversations, ooking and whistling at the humans.

Bringing Walt the Greyhound onto the scene really made no difference. Though she seemed to like Walt (surprisingly: she plotted the assassination of every other dog on the planet), she became no less toy-obsessed, no less inclined to yak at the humans, and no less focused on the human as the center of all existence. And sometimes getting a second dog, especially if both are the same gender, can create all sorts of problems, from overdependency to fighting.

What bringing in Walt did at my house was double the dog-care workload and double the extraordinary cost of pet ownership. The vet bills for those two animals were breathtaking, and the cost of food was enough to put you in the poorhouse.

Cassie, because she’s so small, costs a great deal less to maintain and is nowhere near as much work. Her health has been excellent, and so she hasn’t run up any new bills since she shook off the kennel cough she picked up at the dog pound. But that is sooo atypical!

One recent study by the American Pet Foods Manufacturers Association showed that owning a dog costs an average $1,571 a year, or $15,710 for ten years. It’s easy to run that up, given the the abundance of toys, doggy beds, dog gates, dog crates, dog shampoos, dog toothbrushes, dog collars, dog blankets, dog harnesses, dog jackets, dog booties, and mugs emblazoned with a picture of your dog’s breed. If, as a 2009 survey showed, 62% of Americans own a pet, the profitability of the pet industry is HUGE. That’s 71.4 million households!

In 2009 we spent $45.5 billion on house pets. That figure is expected to go up to $47.7 billion in 2010. We spend as much on our animals as the GDP of Luxembourg and Bulgaria; more than twice the GDP of Bolivia.

Think of that. People are going hungry while we spend the equivalent of an entire country’s production on pet food and doodads.

Plenty of Americans, however, find that they can’t afford the upkeep of a dog or cat, or that they can’t handle the behavior and the mess. The Pet Guardian Angels of America, a pet rescue trade group, has a listing of U.S. animal rescue groups by state. Click on your state and cruise the “adoptable pets” at each group’s site. The sheer number of lost and rejected animals will drop your jaw.

Most distressing is the number of dogs above the age of seven that have been handed to rescue groups, dumped in dog pounds, or dropped onto the streets. This is about the time a dog starts to run up big vet bills: an elderly dog is an expensive dog.

Well, the Rescue Lady put me on to a beginning class in agility training. Cassie is an athletic little dog, and this activity not only would keep me amused, it would run off some of her energy and resocialize her with other dogs and people. So I’m thinking I may enroll us.

That might be a smarter move than getting another dog!

4 thoughts on “Dogs: Like Another Hole in the Head…”

  1. The class sounds like a good compromise and a good plan!

    If you change your mind about getting another dog later, sadly there will probably be other rescue corgis (corgies? corgi?) needing homes then too.

  2. An agility class – or rally obediance, or some other doggie activity – would provide exercise and a social experience for both of you. Maybe I ought to be thinking about it for myself and my own dog.

  3. I think you’re wise to hold firm on this one. As Nicole says, there will always be another corgi to rescue and you can’t take them all. The left behind pug is getting fat, old and creaky; wonder if an agility class would do him any good? I bet your dog will love it!

  4. I repeat: don’t do it. However, the agility class sounds great. Share the details. Who, when, where, etc.

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