Just before Christmas I saw a Facebook post from our agility trainer for a Rottweiler that needed to be re-homed. It said he was 16 months old, neutered, trained in basic commands, and up to date on vaccinations. I messaged her to find out what it was all about and she said it was a family who had taken basic puppy manners with her but she hadn’t seen them since and they had contacted her for help re-homing him. I got the woman’s phone number and gave her a call.
As you may know from other blog posts here, our dog, Liezel, is an anxious dog. In order to not create a second nervous dog we have to bring in a confident, people friendly dog in hopes that Liezel can learn from him that she doesn’t need to be afraid of strangers. I have been going back and forth for a couple of years thinking about a second dog. Bringing in a puppy could be risky because it may be more prone to pick up Liezel’s energy as it would not have had an opportunity to develop confidence on it’s own. However, bringing in an older dog, who has had the opportunity to develop fears, insecurities, etc. could be a recipe for disaster.
Because of what I need to balance at home, I had a lot of questions for the woman. Some of the questions were of little importance in the grand scheme of things (i.e. does he have AKC papers, is he micro-chipped, etc.), some were purely about training (does he know basic commands, why did they bring a trainer into their home as opposed to taking group classes, etc.), but most of the questions were behavioral. I wanted to get a feel for how he reacts to people coming to the door and into the house, how he is in the car, at the vet, with other dogs, on a walk, in a store, etc.
While her answers led me to believe that the dog had little to no training (he jumps on everyone, he steals toys from their child and they can’t take them out of his mouth, she can’t walk him because he’s too powerful), it sounded like he might be people friendly and just in need of a strong leader, along with some mental and physical exercise.
We made arrangements to meet at their house. I called them from the car and asked them to bring him out on a leash as if they were going for a walk and while I videoed it, my husband approached them so we could see how he reacted to a stranger. We then asked them to take him in the house and we would ring the doorbell to see how he reacted to strangers coming to the house. My husband videoed me ringing the bell and entering the house.
He was a jumper! Ninety pounds of Rottweiler jumping at your face can be a bit much, but we were both able to keep him from continuing to jump, he greeted both of us with a friendly (albeit excited) disposition, and by the time we left 30 minutes later, he was walking through my husband’s legs and leaning up against me. During our visit, he stole something from their child which I fished out of his mouth and then rewarded him for releasing. They both commented, “wow, we can never get anything out of his mouth.” See, I thought, he just needs a leader.
I sent the videos to our obedience trainer and asked his opinion. He commented that based on the dog’s reactions to strangers (us), he thought it might be a good fit but he would want to do a more thorough evaluation.
We arranged for the evaluation to take place and two days later we all met up at the dog’s house. The evaluation resulted in 1) he would probably be a good fit for Liezel; 2) because he was neutered too early, he will probably always have the puppy energy that he currently displays; 3) he seems like a good dog and if for some reason he didn’t work out for us, the trainer could help us re-home him (in other words, the trainer considered him mentally and physically stable and very trainable, such that one of his clients would be willing to take and train the dog).
We told the woman that we would talk about it and get back with her. My husband was of the opinion that things at home are fine as they are, but he knows I want a second dog so he was willing to give it a try. I was about 50 / 50 on what to do. I love the idea of Liezel having a companion; and, if the companion can help her with her anxieties, that would be a bonus. I like the idea of having a confident dog that I can do more advanced training with. But I had some concerns and feared what would happen if it didn’t work.
I called my Dad and talked with him. After I explained everything to him, he said I had analysis paralysis. Never having heard that before I had to think about it, but it sure did give an accurate description of how I was looking at every angle and every what-if of getting the dog.
We went as far as getting his vet records and making an appointment for an evaluation at doggie daycare. He was not up to date on one of the vaccines required for daycare so we were going to need to get him to our vet prior to the evaluation. It was December 28, by this time and our week off was quickly coming to an end.
We started talking about logistics. We could get him December 29, try to get into the vet the 29th or 30th, have him for the weekend and then get him to the daycare evaluation on the 2nd of January. He and Liezel would go to daycare together on the 3rd (assuming they accepted him).
There were a lot of “what ifs” and not a lot of time to work them all out. It started to seem like we were attempting to fit a round peg in a square hole and we were both getting uncomfortable. I started a pros and cons list. For each pro, we could come up with two cons: Liezel would have a companion vs. they may not get along and/or he could pick up her anxieties and we’d have two nervous Nelly’s; and he would be a fun training challenge vs. he may be hyper, and long-term, disruptive to our fairly calm lifestyle.
After a lot of thought and discussion we decided against getting him. I have since learned that he did find a new home, which I’m happy about! But since our decision was made, I have had several “we should have tried it” moments.
This experience has put thoughts of a second dog on hold for a while. Surprisingly my husband has confessed that he would rather get a puppy (ugh potty training, teething, basic training… oh puppy breath, puppy fuzz, puppy love) so maybe that’s in our future. Until then, Liezel will get all of the attention – which is probably more than she cares to have.