Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Considerations When Adopting or Fostering a New Dog

Above: LD, aka Little Dog

I recently fostered a 6-week old formerly stray puppy for the Humane Society. She had big bulging eyes and a brindle coat with white patches. She was absolutely adorable, and even my hard-hearted boyfriend fell in love with her. We named her "LD," short for "Little Dog." On her first day in our home, she was quiet and shy. But as soon as she became comfortable with her new surroundings, LD was quite energetic and playful.

In fact, she was SO playful towards my almost 8-year old dog Luka, that Luka couldn't stand it! Luka is a mellow dog to begin with, and although he is friendly towards other dogs, he has never been very playful with them. So when LD started running around him in circles like a buzzing fly, jumping up at his face to get his attention, and repeatedly doing the play bow to entice him, Luka got increasingly anxious. Luka would try to ignore LD for a few minutes. But if LD continued her energetic display, then Luka would finally show some teeth and bark at her to stop. After a while, Luka started hanging out in the yard and avoiding the living room where puppy was, even if puppy was in her crate.

This is a case where neither dog was really at fault. LD, being so young and having been separated from her mother and siblings at an early age, doesn't know cutoff signals yet. And she's still a puppy, so of course she wants to play all the time! Luka, on the other hand, is an older lower-energy dog that enjoys his peace and quiet.

Above: A rare moment of peace between Luka and LD.

I think it's a common misconception and unrealistic expectation that all dogs should get along with each other. Dog owners expect this of their dogs, but wouldn't deny that there are some humans whom they would not want to hang out with or be around. Much the same way, it's natural for a dog to get along with certain dogs but not others.

Although I was supposed to foster LD for three weeks, I asked the Humane Society to transfer her to another foster home a little sooner. If you already have a dog and are considering adopting or fostering another dog, please take a moment to consider the age, temperament and energy level that would complement your own dog. I promise that everyone will be a lot happier that way!

Above: It was hard to resist an angelic face like this. Well...hard for me, but not for Luka!

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