Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Adventure of Snickers and...Lorna(?), Part One: "Predictions of Doom"

Our new pups, Snickers and...Lorna Doone?
Based on the Internet chatter, we (our family) has made a huge mistake. According to some, a grave mistake -- even potentially fatal. No, I am not exaggerating. But I am talking about dogs.

We have acquired two puppies -- two girls from the same litter. They are "Goldendoodles," (golden retriever/standard poodle mixes) just like our recently deceased -- and sorely-missed -- fur-daughter, Krimpet. In keeping with the family traditions of naming our dogs after cakey and candy-ish snack foods even we don't eat, their names are Snickers and...possibly...Lorna Doone. (Still not settled on a for the light colored one.)

At the breeder's, we had it narrowed down to two dogs out of a litter of six. Each of my sons was attached to a different dog. We talked for a while about it, but I had already floated the idea to my wife of having two dogs some months before Krimpet died. On top of this, with an offered discount and my sons' willingness to contribute from their savings, for my wife and me, it was like getting two for the price of one.

If I hadn't already considered it, I'm sure the idea of getting two would have been an hard-line "no." But everything seemed to align. We made the deal and signed the papers. (We'd go back to pick them up in two weeks.)

When I got home, I started reading (as I am wont to do). My wife and I are experienced dog-people; we know how to train pups and we commit ourselves to the inconveniences and deprivations that come along with training, both for the good of the dogs and for the overall happiness of the family. We know how much work pups are, if one does things right. We also know that two dogs are going to be even more work. We know the bills will be doubled. What we didn't know is what I found out after a quick Internet search: apparently, adopting two dogs from the same litter is strongly recommended against by lots of people.

We had no idea. In fact, on the drive home, I basked in the idea that our dogs would be happier having a sister in the house, for life.

The dangers presented by the Internet gurus? First, that the dogs might hyper-bond with each other and not be driven to please their masters, possibly rendering them exceedingly difficult (if not, according to some, "impossible") to train. One even mentioned that there have been cases of squabbling siblings who have fought to the death.

Well, isn't that comforting? Isn't that helpful?

But welcome to the Internet age, where getting everyone's attention (not unlike the prostitute on the corner) and not quality of service (much, I would guess, also like the prostitute on the corner) is the goal. I'm sure it has happened. But often enough to put in an article? Probably not.

As for the hyper-bonding, I have already started to read-up on remedies. They need to eat separately, sleep separately, get individual training (both in classes and at home) and they need to learn that being apart, overall, is okay. (Most of which, by the way, we were already aware we would need to do.)

In fairness, some commenters were more balanced in their evaluation of the problem. Many said, "Well, not the best idea, but you can do this if you commit."(One outlier recommends completely blowing off the concerns. Nothing to worry about at all, says he. So one has them killing each other in mortal combat and one says "littermates, schmittermates..." Again, I give you: the Internet. )

At the time I that am writing this, we still need to wait two weeks for the pups to be ready to leave their mother. At the time you are reading this, the two little devils will be in our house in three days...

For me, now, it's prep time.

We now have two little lives in our hands and it is a responsibility from which we will not back down. If it was a mistake to adopt sibling dogs, so be it. But I happen to believe that with love and consistent training, "Nurture" can control or, at least, dramatically mitigate "Nature."

As with raising children (and the similarities are plentiful) we need to start sacrificing our freedom a bit -- even a lot -- to ensure two happy, well-adjusted dogs. Whether it will be "hard" or not is irrelevant, now that we have committed. Whether we are doubting our decision or not is also irrelevant at this point. Those two little creatures need us to guide them to contentment. (And since there are those who have, I'm sure, already wrinkled their brows at us for not getting a shelter dog [which we have also done in the past] I want also say that a lack of committment is one reason why dogs end up in shelters in the first place. We refuse to give up on our committment.)

I have called this "part one," because I want to document this experience for anyone who finds him or herself bombarded by claims of doom in the future. I'm confident the saga will have a happy ending, but I will be honest in telling the tail...uh, tale.

Stay tuned for part two...

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