Monday, January 30, 2012


For whatever reason, you have decided to get a new dog.  Perhaps you've just had a long-time pet pass away, or you want to get a playmate for you current dog(s), or you're looking for your very first dog.  The acquisition of a dog involves several steps before you actually can complete the process:
  • Making the decision to get a dog
  • Choosing the right type and breed of dog for you
  • Finding the dog you want
  • Bringing the dog home
  • And, finally, getting the dog comfortable in your environment
...and then, being the responsible pet owner that you want to be, you can begin to work on establishing the human/pet bond.

One of our regular readers, Holly, from Greensburg, PA, has just recently gone through these steps.  Yes, I know...that's my hometown,, I've never met Holly, except for exchanging e-mails.  Holly writes her own blog, Your Mother Knows But Won't Tell You..., which can be followed at:  and one of her frequent topics is her dog family.  I'll let you find out more about Holly's dogs when you read her blog but, for now, she has graciously consented to keep a running account of her quest for another dog.  This is the first part of Holly's story:

“Michael, Lynn’s Lily is going to have puppies!” He responds, “Oh, that’s great,” and went back to watching television. I asked, “Wouldn’t it be great to have another Scottie in the house?” He just looked at me with that look he gives when he thinks I’ve lost my mind. He loves me enough not to point that out, though.

When the five puppies arrived, the first one born was a wheaten female and Lynn named her, Holly, after me. I was so honored! She posted pictures of them on her blog, Rocky Creek Scottie Adventures, so we could all watch this litter of three wheatens, one black, and a brindle grow into Scottie wonderfulness.

In November, Michael and I celebrated our 5th Anniversary. He said, “I have a gift for our anniversary and Christmas, but I don’t want to buy it without your complete approval. Want to see it so you can decide?” I couldn’t help but be curious. I stood by his computer while he pulled it up for me to look over.

When a picture of puppy, Holly, came up, I just stood there with my mouth hanging open! “You’re not serious?!” Mike looked at me, “I’ve already talked it over with Lynn and she’ll hold her for us to talk it over. She’d be thrilled to place one of her pups with us, but needs to know soon. The point though is, you’re the one who will have to deal with her the most because I’m traveling so much. So, I need to know if you’re serious about having another pup.”

Lynn Jennings Spencer is a Scottie breeder I met in the blog world and Facebook. These two communication vehicles have done a great deal to match-up people with similar interests. Like most animal enthusiasts, Scottie people seem to find each other and form relationships over their mutual love of the breed.

One of the things I respect about Lynn is her very pragmatic and down-to-earth view of her dogs. She doesn’t dote on them as pampered pets, but she loves them with a mighty love. She doesn’t baby her dogs, but they are completely cared for. She doesn’t make potential owners go through more of a process than some human adoption agencies make one go through. There are considerations and conversations because she is particular who her Scots go home with, but once she’s vetted an individual, that’s the total of it. She does ask that you sign an agreement that you will contact her and return the Scottie to her in the event that you can’t keep it any longer. She doesn’t insinuate herself into your relationship with your new dog, however, she is always there to help if you need her. She’s an active member in the Scottish Terrier Club in her area and stays current on the medical information and issues as well as grooming and training.

In a flash, all the pros and cons went racing through my head. Rory and Fiona have such a routine and get along so well; they’re now six years and I don’t know how they’d be with another dog in the house. Yes! I’d love to have another Scottie! Wait-- housebreaking, UGH! Scotties can be so stubborn, do I really need to add to the stubborn factor? Fiona is such an alpha female, how’d she be with another bitch in the house? The expense of three would really be high what with vet care and grooming... On and on my thoughts raced and then I heard myself say, “Oh Michael, it’s a wonderful present! Yes, I want a puppy and she is a beautiful puppy but I’m not sure Holly is the best one for us.”

Perplexed, he asked me to explain. “I’m thinking that two females in the house, what with Fiona’s personality, could be trouble especially since Lynn says Holly is the litter alpha. I’m wondering, if the runt, Argyle, the brindle might not be a better choice for us. It would be cool to have one of each of the colors that Scotties come in! Why don’t you talk with Lynn and see what she thinks and if Argyle is available, how about we take him?”

After discussing it with Lynn, who agreed based on her knowledge of Fiona, Argyle became known as Argyle MacPiper to honor his sire. We then waited for him to turn eight weeks old so we could bring him home.

A few days before Christmas, we traveled to Virginia to meet up with Lynn and her husband, Gary. Harrisonburg is more or less half way between their home and ours. They live in a beautiful part of the Blue Ridge Mountain area in Hillsville, VA. We took Rory and Fiona along to meet their new pack mate.

In preparation of his trip home, we had a crate ready. We also bought a lead, puppy food, a food bowl, a harness, enzyme cleaner for the inevitable accidents, pee-pee pads for the crate, chew toys and small stuffies.

And Lynn added to the inventory! Through my years of owning dogs, I’ve dealt with a fair amount of breeders. By far, Lynn is the best of the bunch. Argyle came home to us with: a pound of food; a water bowl and a gallon of their well water to minimize tummy trouble while he transitioned to our water; a blanket that was used with all the pups so it would be a familiar smell in his new environment; toys; a leash and he was already wearing a collar; an identification tag with his name, my name, my address and phone number. Most importantly, she paid to have him micro-chipped and all I had to do was register it via the computer. If a new owner had never before brought home a puppy, Lynn makes certain they have everything they will need as new owners. It is amazing!

Fiona and Rory are excellent travelers and we were ready with treats, water and water bowl at the ready. They thought it was fun but a bit confusing when we rode home with the tiny pup resting in the crate. They made the four plus hour ride home lying close to Argyle.

The ride home was the easy part, however, having the new puppy at home? Let’s just say, I think it must be like childbirth...there’s a natural amnesia that occurs to help one forget the hard parts. Otherwise, no one would ever have children; likewise, no one would ever bring a puppy into their home. It takes a huge amount of patience and effort to change a wild animal into a canine companion.

So, how’s that transition progressing? Tune into the next segment to learn more about the Adventures of Argyle and Holly!

While you're making the decision to get a dog, it helps make the decision a bit easier if you can compile a list of what you'd like or not like in a dog:
Choosing the Right Dog for You

The selection of available canine companions can overwhelm you! Man's best friends come in all shapes, sizes, and—of course—personalities.

While almost any dog can make a wonderful, lifelong companion for you and your family, some of those bundles of energy will make less appropriate pets for you than others.  The key is knowing what to look for. Here are a few things to think about:

What's your lifestyle?

Choosing the right dog generally means identifying the type of animal who matches your lifestyle. If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, for instance, adopting a large, active retriever-mix might not be the best choice. Conversely, if you have a family of four and are looking for a companion to match your active lifestyle, such an animal may be perfect. A dog's size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness, and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision.

Breeds and mixes

How do you find out which dogs have the qualities you're looking for? Information is the key: learn about various breeds by reading some dog breed books, talk with your acquaintances who have dogs, talk it over with your veterinarian (or if you don't already have a veterinarian, most vets would gladly listen to your questions), visit with animals at the local shelter, and speak with an adoption counselor at the shelter for guidance.

Dogs fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds. Most animal shelters have plenty of both. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, are similar to a specific "breed standard." This means that if you adopt a purebred puppy, you have a good chance of knowing about how big he'll get and what general physical and behavioral characteristics he'll have.

Mixed breeds

Of course, the size, appearance, and temperament of most mixed breed dogs can be predicted as well. After all, mixed breeds are simply combinations of different breeds. So if you know the ancestry of a particular mixed-breed puppy or can identify what type of dog he is (e.g., terrier mix), you have a good chance of knowing how he'll turn out, too.

Mixed breeds offer several advantages over purebreds. When you adopt a mixed breed, you benefit from the combined traits of two or more breeds. You also get a dog who's likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs. Mixed breeds, in fact, are often considered the more "natural" dog. When you adopt a mixed breed, you adopt a unique companion.

Visit with shelter animals

If you are able to visit a shelter, keep in mind that it is a stressful place for any animal. Quite often, a dog's true colors won't show until he's away from other animals and the shelter environment. So even if you walk past a kennel with a dog who isn't vying for your attention, don't count him out. He may just be a little scared or lonely.

An adoption counselor can help you select canines who will match your lifestyle. When you spend time with each animal, consider the following questions:
  • How old is the dog? You may want to select a puppy as your new companion. However, young dogs usually require much more training and supervision than more mature dogs. If you lack the time or patience to house-train your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.
  • How shy or assertive is the dog? Although an active, bouncy dog might catch your eye, a quieter or more reserved dog might be a better match if you don't have a particularly active lifestyle.
  • How good is the animal with children? Learning about a dog's past through a history sheet or from an adoption counselor can be helpful, but past information isn't always available. In general, an active dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise is a dog who will probably thrive in a house full of kids. Also keep in mind that puppies younger than four months of age, because of their fragility and special needs, often won't be adopted out to families with young children.
Choose a pal for life

Most dogs can provide you with boundless love and companionship, and every dog certainly deserves a lifelong home. But some dogs are better for you and your lifestyle than others. That's why you should take the time to make a thoughtful choice. After all, you're choosing a pal likely to be with you 10 to 15 years—or even longer. Select the right dog, and you and your new companion will enjoy those years to the fullest.

Adapted from:

Once you've made your selection, it's time to take the new dog home.  As simple as that might sound, there are several considerations to remember:

Bringing Your New Dog Home

The key to helping your new dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient. It can take anywhere from two days to two months for you and your pet to adjust to each other. The following tips can help ensure a smooth transition.


Prepare the things your dog will need in advance. You'll need a collar and leash, food and water bowls, food, and, of course, some toys. And don't forget to order an identification tag right away.

Welcome home

Try to arrange the arrival of your new dog for a weekend or when you can be home for a few days. Get to know each other and spend some quality time together. Don't forget the jealousy factor—make sure you don't neglect other pets and people in your household!

Health care

Animal shelters take in animals with widely varying backgrounds, some of whom have not been previously vaccinated. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of shelter workers, viruses can be spread and may occasionally go home with adopted animals. If you already have dogs or cats at home, make sure they are up-to-date on their shots and in good general health before introducing your new pet dog.

Take your new dog to the veterinarian within a week after adoption. There, the dog will receive a health check and any needed vaccinations. If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, make that appointment! There are already far too many homeless puppies and dogs; don't let your new pet add to the problem. Most likely, the shelter will require that you have your pet spayed or neutered anyway. If you need more information about why it is so important to spay or neuter your dog, read our online information on spaying and neutering.

House rules

Work out your dog-care regimen in advance among the human members of your household. Who will walk the dog first thing in the morning? Who will feed him at night? Will Fido be allowed on the couch, or won't he? Where will he rest at night? Are there any rooms in the house that are off-limits?

Training and discipline

Dogs need order. Let your pet know from the start who is the boss. When you catch him doing something he shouldn't, don't lose your cool. Stay calm, and let him know immediately, in a loud and disapproving voice, that he has misbehaved. Reward him with praise when he does well, too! Sign up for a local dog obedience class, and you'll learn what a joy it is to have a well-trained dog.


Assume your new dog is not house-trained, and work from there.  Be consistent, and maintain a routine. A little extra effort on your part to come home straight from work each day will pay off in easier, faster house-training.


A crate may look to you like the canine equivalent of a jail cell, but to your dog, who instinctively likes to den, it's a room of his own. It makes house-training and obedience-training easier and saves your dog from the headache of being yelled at unnecessarily for problem behavior. Of course, you won't want to crate your dog all day or all night, or he will consider it a jail cell. Just a few, regular hours a day should be sufficient.

The crate should not contain wire where his collar or paws can get caught, and should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably in normal posture.

If a crate isn't an option, consider some sort of confinement to a dog-proofed part of your home. A portion of the kitchen or family room can serve the purpose very well. (A baby gate works perfectly.)

Let the games begin

Dogs need an active life. That means you should plan plenty of exercise and game time for your pet. Enjoy jogging or Frisbee? You can bet your dog will, too. If running around the park is too energetic for your taste, try throwing a ball or a stick, or just going for a long walk together. When you take a drive in the country or visit family and friends, bring your dog and a leash along.

A friend for life

Finally, be reasonable in your expectations. Life with you is a different experience for your new companion, so give him time to adjust. You'll soon find out that you've made a friend for life. No one will ever greet you with as much enthusiasm or provide you with as much unqualified love and loyalty as your dog will. Be patient, and you will be amply rewarded.

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Obviously, Holly was well-prepared for her arrival home with her new pup.  Helpful Buckeye knows you're already looking forward to the section on introducing your new dog to your household.  When Holly has accumulated enough to write about that, we'll address that topic for you.
Any questions or comments, either e-mail Helpful Buckeye at or register your comment at the end of this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. 
Ohio State's basketball team, still ranked in the top 5, played #20 Michigan today in Columbus.  Being tied with Michigan and Michigan State for the Big 10 Conference lead, we needed to get some separation from those guys.  The Buckeyes broke open a close game in the 2nd half to win convincingly by 15 points.


Helpful Buckeye is on track to total more than 400 miles on the bike for the month of January...the first month to be over 400 since May of last year.  The difficult situation with Dad's deteriorating health and ultimate death, soon followed by my torn calf muscle seriously reduced my biking miles and racquetball playing.  It feels great to be again pushing the pedals (as a spoke jockey) and smashing the ball around the racquetball court...I fully expect to be at 100% in both areas very soon.

Helpful Buckeye and Desperado will be spending 3 days in the Phoenix area this week, as part of our "Get To Know Arizona Better" quest.  Helpful Buckeye has a lot of places lined up for the 3 whatever we can't see this time can wait for the next time...and there will be plenty of next times.

In reviewing all the quotes I used over the past year, these four, taken together, really illustrate how things have been for me since May 2011 until the present time:

"Midway upon the journey of my life,
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost."   Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

"Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They're what make the instrument stretch -- what make you go beyond the norm." Cicely Tyson, American actress

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure.  There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”  J. Nehru, Prime Minister of India, 1947-1964

“Will you join me…for a roam through wonderland?”  William Wallace Bass, entrepreneur in the Grand Canyon, 1900

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

1 comment:

  1. What I like very much about these four quotes, is the place where you's a testament to loving your life and being open. The qualities that have made you a vet worth working with and a person so worth knowing, loving, and being a friend to; Good for you Doc, good for you!