Now for some back story. I've had Teako since she was a puppy (she will be 4 years old in October) and for the first two years of her life, I was able to spend a good portion of the day with her, being in grad school. Now that Boyfriend and I have full-time jobs, Teako spends a lot of the day at home alone, usually sleeping and looking out the window waiting for us to come home. Yes, I think sleeping all day sounds like a pretty good life too, but apparently dogs don't know how good they have it.
I had considered getting a second dog when Boyfriend moved in with me (to help in case two dogs ended up being overwhelming for one set of hands), but I had put it in the back of my mind until living circumstances were ideal. Then we found our current and awesome house, and then it took me until April on a morning walk to say "Hey.....what do you think about getting another dog?" Boyfriend was a little hesitant, and admittedly, so was I. Having two dogs is double the everything. Double the cost, double the cleaning, double the grooming, but potentially double the joy. We weren't sure we wanted twice the commitment of a single dog.
I consulted my coworkers, friends, and the internets about it. To my delight, the consensus was that two dogs was actually EASIER since the dogs would play together, wear each other out, and keep each other company, thus eliminating that nagging guilt that goes along with leaving your dog alone at home. The caveat was that it was essential to find the RIGHT companion for your dog, otherwise you just have twice the work with none of the payoff.
Encouraged by this feedback, we set about searching for the right dog. After buying Teako from a backyard-breeder and feeling guilty about it ever since, I knew I didn't want to go that route. Like many others, I thought at the time that I wouldn't be able to find the specific dog I wanted (schnoodle) at a shelter or rescue. What a sad misconception! This time around I decided to use Petfinder.com, and I was shocked at how many purebreds, mixed breeds, designer breeds, etc. they had of all ages, sizes and colors.
You would not believe how many dogs are euthanized every day for NO REASON other than that the shelter has no room for them. How would you like it if your apartment complex snuffed you (a perfectly lovely human being, I'm sure, with a winning personality and great social skills) because they needed the room?
Unless you plan to show your dog and need an AKC registered purebred (c'mon now), you can find exactly what you want/need at a shelter or rescue.
Many first-time dog owners say they want a puppy because, let's face it, they are adorable.
But guess what is NOT adorable: Cleaning up pee and poop at all hours of the day INSIDE your house; finding your furniture and belongings destroyed; waking up several times a night to take your pup out; paying $$$$ for shots, spay/neuter and other puppy necessities.
Seriously, as a former puppy owner, the cuteness is outweighed by the suckiness JUST barely to make me not ever want to do it again.
Besides, both of my dogs are still ADORABLE. And housebroken.
Boyfriend and I had discussed a few MUST HAVES for Dog #2.
- 2-5 years old
- 20 lbs or less
- Poodle mix (or other low-shedding equivalent including yorkie, maltese, bichon, schnauzer, or cairn terrier)
- Good chemistry with Teako (MOST important)
- Cute (we live in a shallow world, people)
- No separation anxiety (Teako has this, and we wanted the new dog to make it better, not worse)
And a few would-be-nices:
- Not too girly-looking (all Boyfriend)
- No major health issues
- Female (I know they say girl+girl combos can be dangerous, but when those boys roll over for a belly rub, their little wangs totally weird me out)
- No annoying habits like persistent barking or digging.
- Lapdog (Teako is not)
With our criteria in place, we set about looking for the perfect dog. The search took much longer than we expected. We would find a potential dog on Petfinder.com, put in an application, sometimes speak with the Foster owner, and then drive out to meet him/her (typically they were over an hour's drive away). The hard part was that when we finally got the two dogs together, we could tell within the first couple of minutes whether or not they were compatible, and usually they were not. Some dogs were too aggressively playful with Teako, some did not have the temperament we wanted, and some were just mean (one of them bit Boyfriend when he tried to pick him up!). We met about 6 dogs, one or two each weekend, before I came across Peona online. Here's the picture that caught my eye:
Adorably scraggly, I just wanted to hug her! I read the description:
"How could anyone dump this dog on the street and leave her? And yet, someone did. Approximately 2 years old and around 12 pounds. This beautiful, loving, well-behaved little Poodle/Terrier mix is everything you could hope for in a doggy companion. Fun, gentle, playful, and quiet. No inappropriate digging or chewing, Enjoys playing with other dogs immensely. Calm. Good for a quiet or active home. Found on the street and brought to AnimalSavers' director's door at 2:00 a.m. Never reclaimed by owner."
I just had a feeling that she was the one, but after being disappointed so many times in the past month, I tried really hard to suppress those feelings and keep a neutral head.
Peona was currently with a Sacramento rescue called "AnimalSavers". I called them up and spoke to the director of the organization who also happened to be fostering Peona at the time. She had nothing but wonderful things to say about Peona and thought she would be an ideal companion for Teako. Teako had proven picky with her playmates so far, but the director assured me that Peona could get even the grumpiest dogs in a playful mood.
So that weekend we set out to meet up in Berkeley. When Peona was brought out of the director's car, she was the scraggliest looking thing ever! Hair all different lengths, tons of ticks (the director lived on a ranch where they are a huge problem), dirty and shy. Her and Teako sniffed at each other briefly, tails wagging, and then ignored each other. Peona was very shy with Boyfriend and I, but gingerly sniffed our hands and wagged her tail a bit. This meeting wasn't quite the joyous rendezvous I had imagined, but I still couldn't shake that good feeling I had about this one.
|Coco an hour after we adopted her getting to know us and Teako|
So we agreed to adopt her (the rescue had a one-month trial period, which was reassuring) and promptly renamed her to "Coco", which was short for "coconut" because she looked like little coconut shavings. We whisked her off to the groomers where all her dirty matted hair was shaved off and she was given a bath. Afterwards, I proceeded to pick 32 ticks off of her whole body (holy crap!)
|At the pet shop waiting for the groomer|
Poor little girl. She must have had one of the most stressful days of her life, I'm sure. When we finally brought her home 6 hours after meeting her, she was EXHAUSTED and spent the rest of the day sleeping.
We still didn't know how her and Teako would get along, but the next morning after our walk, this happened:
Teako's favorite game, chase! I was so so SO excited about this, you have no idea. And later, Coco even got Teako to wrestle, which she never seemed to like with other dogs. Now they do it constantly!
So that's how we ended up with the perfect addition to our family. Coco came to us with almost no training, but she learns FAST and already knows "sit", "lie down" and "high five". She is also house broken, so we've had very few accidents in the house. She's super easy-going, and constantly happy to see us. We took her to our vet a week after we adopted her and she was given a clean bill of health as well. All-in-all, we couldn't have picked a better doggie!
|First day home|
|Six weeks later|
|Coco adores sunbathing|
|Best buds now!|