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 Post subject: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:17 am 
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Making Threats to Punks Again
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I come from a dog family, i love dogs and have never had one of my own since i left home near the end of high school (i'll be 40 soon). My husband and i have moved yearly or more throughout our marriage and when i worked, i worked long hours, and felt it wouldn't be fair to a dog to let them sit inside a house all day and often well into the night. We have had 2 cats during our marriage, both of whom adopted us, and neither of whom have liked me at all. We currently have a single male cat who is completely indoors and a 3 year old boy.

For the past several years i have been a stay at home mom and i've been nudging for a doggie family member. We bought a house this year and finally my husband says we can do this. We have been looking at rescues and have met several, but haven't really found a match yet. My husband seems most interested in hounds, while my perfect dog isn't as breed specific- i want an adult dog who is house trained and knows some commands and is comfortable on a leash, is good with kids and cats and has moderate exercise needs, a dog who is laid back, not dominant. I am partial to longer haired (i'd rather groom then vacuum) and larger breeds (my dearest childhood companion was a german short haired pointer, and we never had dogs who were over 50 lbs, but i've always loved the really big dogs i've known- they have always been the most gentle, intuitive souls).

Currently, there is someone home most of the day- maybe 2 or 3 hours alone at a time, not every day, but in a few years, we will likely move toward more home alone time. We have a smaller post WW2 house with a quarter acre lot and a fenced backyard in town. My husband and i both plan on walking or running daily with the dog. Financially, we are okay, we live within our means, ie, our debt is student loans and that's it, but we have one car and are pretty frugal, and we don't have much for saving each month.

Yesterday, while looking at petfinder, i saw Berry, http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/25074571 and her brother (already spoken for) and sent the link to my husband. He actually said he'd find out more, this after me pointing out that they weighed more then me and would likely eat more, too. We have emailed with the rescue and the lovely lady Berry is staying with will be volunteering at our local SPCA this weekend and we can go meet Berry. Berry is apparently great with young children and other dogs and very much a dog who just wants to be in a pack (the lady already has 5 bernards of her own). She sounds like she has the perfect personality. Other dogs we have met have all ended up being too alpha for us- especially with our child.

Is this crazy? Are we going to be able to feed this dog? Does anyone have any experience with large dogs and some words of advice or questions i should be asking myself?


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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:58 am 
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i was brought up with Great Danes as a little kid and I have fantastic memories of laying around with puppies and riding on big ones and just having an amazing experience with big dogs.
Danes, however, are a bit less messy than Bernards in terms of shedding, my dad had one of those and it was a shed machine. I'm not sure if you could just keep her shaved. I don't consider slobber a problem, but they do slobber a lot. As for other mess, dogs all poop, it's just the volume that changes. And they do eat a lot, but, well, you'd be paying less than the lady with 5 of them, canyouimagine.....
The other thing is that as a big dog I'm sure Bernards have risk for the same issues: hips, knees, bloat, hearts, but i wouldn't let that stop me if the dog had a great personality.

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:52 am 
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sounds like you have done tons of thinking and research on this so to be honest all you need to do is jump in when it feels right. the thing about owning a dog is you'll never be able to plan 100% for what's coming.
pick the top things that are important to you (ie being good with the kid and not dominant) and talk honestly with the shelter/rescue. they dont want the dog back so they want it to go to the best match too.
also if you decide in your heart this guy is a good choice still be open when you go to meet him.
when we adopted our second dog we actually had gone to the shelter to meet a totally different dog who sounded perfect and when we got there we realized he was a horrible match for us. he was old and so overweight and had rotten teeth and our other dog would have run circles around him. i was horrified leaving him behind because i wanted to save him but i knew he would be a bad match for us (he ended up getting adopted that day anyways) and we ended up with a totally different dog that hadnt even gotten on their website yet because he had just arrived the night before.

also keep in mind that the dog you take home may not be the dog you end up with. ie that dog will be on edge for awhile not knowing what's going on and needing to adjust. both our dogs relaxed SO MUCH several weeks/months after we adopted them and are much better than that first initial time period. i like to make a "safe spot" in the house for the dog to go and relax and have it be their area. this might be good since you have a small child that might be really excited and want to play play play with the dog and the dog might get overwhelmed. this can be a crate or maybe even just a nook or a bed. it can just be a "chillout" spot where the dog always feels safe

training also helps. im a huge advocate of positive training methods, especially with rescue dogs who often have issues. clicker training is awesome.

sounds like you have a pretty small yard like we do but if you are planning on daily exercise then i think you'll be totally fine plus i dont think Saint Bernard's need tons of exercise (?)
we have to walk our dogs everyday because they dont understand the concept of playing in the backyard. plus they like to physically go out and explore.
i dont know anything about large breeds or Saints other than i think Saints are REALLY drooly so you may want to ask yourself if you really want to deal with a lot of slobber and cleaning up slobber off everything all the time.
i believe Saints are known for being great family dogs and protective and very gentle with kids. of course remember it still depends on the individual dog. our lab (normally the quintessential bomb proof family dog) i do not trust around kids but he is messed up sooooo that's a whole different story ;-)

other than that GOOD LUCK!!!! you've already put so much care and thought into it i know you will come to the right decision and whatever pup you end up with will be one lucky pooch!

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:02 pm 
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You sound ready for a dog, for whichever lucky pup you ultimately decide on and Berry looks lovely! <3

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:50 pm 
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My aunt used to have a St. Bernard. He was a laid-back, goofy guy. There were definitely some downsides, though, that you may want to consider:
1.) Mess/drool. He drooled A LOT. He would shake his head and slobber would fly everywhere (if you've ever seen the "Beethoven" movies, the scenes where the dog shakes his head and splatters people with drool are pretty accurate). The walls of my aunt's house up to about 3 feet would have strings of slobber stuck to them, and after the dog ate it was like his food bowl was covered with some kind of ectoplasm. Also, if he got wet/muddy, the entire house would end up wet and muddy.
2.) Size. My aunt's St. Bernard grew to the point that he could no longer fit in the groomer's cages or tub, so she had to groom him herself. As he got older and his legs got bad, he had to be lifted into their SUV, which took about 3 people to do.
3.) Price. Obviously you will be buying more food for a larger dog, but their are other expenses, like heartworm and flea & tick meds that cost more for the larger sizes.

If all of that doesn't put you off, I think you should go meet her and see. If she seems right for you, you can ask the foster family to tell you more about her needs and care.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:40 am 
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Thank you guys so much for all your feedback. I sent a message to the foster mom and asked her about costs and what she feeds her, about size and grooming, told her more about our family, and she actually suggests we meet another bernard she has, named Gracie, who is the same age. Apparently, Berry has only been with her a few days and is very stressed out since she was just separated from her brother, and has bonded with her farmhand/caretaker since he is on property 24/7 and is getting very stressed out when he is out of her sight- poor poor baby! She also says Berry is jumping some fences and she doesn't think she is ready for a move, and i tend to agree, although i would love to take her, i'm not sure my son and her would be a good match at this point.

Gracie is also slightly smaller, about 138 pounds, but also 3 years old. Foster mom even swears she will comfily fit in our corolla. She has had her for a while, but says she kind of gets lost in the crowd (6 st bernards!!! i can't imagine- this is what i love about northern california- this lady is so normal up here) and would love the attention of being an only dog. Other possible bonus- swears she is not a drooler- we will see if that turns out to be true. We'd still be adopting through the spca, and i appreciate that we would get to know more about this sweet girl's background.

I am planning on setting aside some space for her in our spare room, lisapunk, i think your idea of a safe/preschooler free zone is a great one. I was already thinking of doing a training class with any dog, although i thought about waiting to get to know them, it sounds like jumping right in with some one on one sessions might be better. I am thinking of talking to a trainer who has been recommended to me, and seeing if i can get my son, who is 3 and a half, involved so they can bond in a positive way and he can learn how to treat a dog. He generally loves them, there is a dog park near a playground we frequent and he's learned to ask owners to meet their dogs, so cute to see him talk to them and pet them! A few months ago a lab jumped on him (exuberance, didn't hurt, just surprised) and i've noticed he has been a bit more timid since then, so i plan on letting him have at least an initial meeting and then pick up the dog if we adopt so he will hopefully be more comfortable.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:21 am 
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bernards are a bit more energetic than other big breeds that are a bit more slower and calmer (greyhounds, danes) and so a calmer one would probably be better and safer in terms of knocking down little kids (unintentionally of course).
sounds like good news!!

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:25 pm 
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Gracie sounds like a great pooch! good luck with whatever you decide to do!

oh and of course keep us posted and post pictures whenever you do get a dog :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:06 am 
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Well, gracie wasn't meant for us- she apparently likes to herd her people, we were going to meet her today but when i was talking to the woman she was staying with she mentioned this and that she calls her bossypants and i asked if she would consider her an alpha and she said, well as long as you don't let her be she won't be, she's just the head of her pack right now. We decided maybe we aren't a match after all.

We are still looking though.I hope we find the right dog soon! I have a great trainer lined up and my son is excited about finding a 'mannered dog'.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:03 pm 
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good luck with your search!
sounds like you have a really solid idea of what you want and that is great!

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:18 am 
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Hi jildez! I'm excited for you to finally get a pooch of your own! It sounds like you are really doing you're home work. I thought I'd add what I've learned about hounds. I'm not sure if you or your husband have had them in the past, but from my personal experience, and advice from a groomer/animal rescue gal, they're a really high energy breed.

My husband and I are pretty active (both runners, like to hike/backpack etc) and thought we knew what we were getting into when we adopted our girl Scout, a hound dog mix. Let me just say she is the MOST ENERGETIC dog I have ever owned! (and our last canine was a whippet mix)! Which is not a bad thing by any means. It's just that our girl needs a lot of exercise. In fact, when I was training for a 1/2 marathon, I'd take her on 10 mile runs. She'd come home and would still not have the sense to be tired, when our border collie/blue heeler mix would be wiped out for the night. Granted, Scout was two and the blue heeler is a few years older, but still- these dogs have a shiitake ton of energy.

I copy and pasted a small blurb from the rescue we adopted her from- they place lots of hunting dogs/hounds. I love Scout and wouldn't trade her for the world, but be forewarned- a fenced in yard doesn't cut it for her. She needs lots of walks.

Whatever you do, good luck and ENJOY the newest member to your family. How exciting!

(copy and pasted from Second Chance Pets, Athol, Idaho. The rescue organizer has taken care of dogs since she was a kid, and also owns a grooming shop here in town).

Coonhounds are SUPER cute when they are puppies. Hard to resist, but please do your homework! Coonhounds aren't for everyone and do best with people who understand them. While they can be mellow, laid back and easygoing, the are extremely tenacious hunters and can rarely be content as indoor, pampered lap dogs. Their gentle, friendly temperament suits them just fine to family life, but they do need an outlet for their need to "track, trail and bay". This can be a daily run with a jogger, or a nightly trial walk in the woods. It can also be quenched with a busy child or two and some fuzzy, squeeky dog toys in a large, secure backyard..... They must be taught at a young age to come when called. This is important for you to be able to call them back off the trail of any game they might jump on your daily walks, especially when you are lucky enough to be able to walk them in a safe area, off lead. It is illegal in most states to allow your Coonhound to run loose, or run wildlife and it is your responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen. Coonhounds also have very deep, loud voices and will use them if left alone outside all the time. Being allowed to be part of family life is very important to keeping your new Coonhound happy and healthy. They are above all else, pack dogs, and being a member of your "pack" is just want they thrive on!

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:44 am 
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Interesting post RE: hounds. I am no hound expert by any means but we have what we believe to be a hound mix. We call him a beagle for lack of knowing what he actually is. Just recently I discovered there is actually something called a black & white beagle and it’s exactly what he looks like other than also having a brindle leg (he’s definitely a mutt, his ears and nose are long but not quite hound length). When we first got him I could not believe what a lazy bones he was. Our other dog is a super high energy and also very reactive lab mix so he NEEDS a lot of exercise and quite frankly we were just used to it at that point so when we tried to walk the new dog and he was like trailing behind me and I was borderline dragging him I was like “what the fizzle DOG!!” I truly think though that had more to do with his former lifestyle (he was 5 when we got him and had been abandoned by a previous family and had been in a kill shelter in IN for a few months before being transported up here) he also has a slightly wonky back leg which at the beginning seemed to bother him.
Now? This dog PULLS ME on walks to the point that sometimes I have to give him to my husband because I have back issues and he’s pulling too much. He is so fired up for walks and wants to sniff everything in sight. If we were able to let them off leash he would probably run but that is a bad idea for us. If we don’t walk them one day he gets cranky and usually takes it out on the other dog and will be naughty at home like digging through dirty underwear and spewing it around the bedroom. He would totally eat trash if we didn’t secure the trash cans. now his wonky leg is pretty much fine since he gets so much exercise. I do think maybe he was hit by a car at some point because it’s not quite normal but it doesn’t bother him at all.
So yeah energetic for sure! However he is still a total lazy bones. He’s either on and raring to go and hyped up or totally passed the f out oblivious to the world and grumpy if we dare to interrupt his slumber. The other dog is also high energy but never settles down. He just always wants to do something. this may have to do with his level of reactivity rather than his breed (lab). He’s always on high alert.
Since he is clearly some sort of hound he LOVES to sniff and I ended up participating in a doggie sport called Nose Work with him and he LOVES IT. he has even received his level 1 title in the sport. It’s a great alternative to hunting for us vegans because the dog is still bred for hunting and loves to do it but in this they are searching for an odor. (birch, anise, or clove depending on the level) and no dead animals are required!
So yeah hounds are great! They have personality traits all their own and they have a great howl. I never really thought of them as high energy until I read this but now I totally agree. But it also makes them great family dogs because they want to DO STUFF with YOU.

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:07 am 
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LisaPunk wrote:
Since he is clearly some sort of hound he LOVES to sniff and I ended up participating in a doggie sport called Nose Work with him and he LOVES IT. he has even received his level 1 title in the sport. It’s a great alternative to hunting for us vegans because the dog is still bred for hunting and loves to do it but in this they are searching for an odor. (birch, anise, or clove depending on the level) and no dead animals are required!.

this sounds AWESOME. my Nacho is a big sniffer, and after so many years with sight hounds it is so different. I am going to investigate this more, since this dog has an amazing nose.

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:15 pm 
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it's a lot of fun. it's a relatively new sport, just a few years old so i dont think it has made it out of the US yet but you can certainly read about it aned do it on your own.

we play the "find it" game with our other dog who doesnt go to class.

im a little confused as there seems to be 2 "official" websites. not sure what the difference between the 2 is:

http://www.k9nosework.com/

http://www.funnosework.com/

i think the first one may be more informational and the 2nd one i think is for people who are currently doing it maybe?

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:38 am 
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Good luck on your search! The right dog will certainly come along. This has probably already been mentioned but in case it hasn't.... If you are considering more "giant breed" dogs going forward, remember the greatly reduced life expectancy of these guys. A 3 year old St Bernard might only have 4-5 years of life left. As for considering hounds, you have to remember that scent hounds aren't just high energy but also high stamina breeds. You also have to consider the tendency towards vocalization these guys have - the hound bray is loud and CARRIES. But I always stress that individual personality is more important than breed tendancies.

Also, be cautious using terms like "dominant" and "alpha". A dog can be submissive but still be an obnoxious kumquat, while a more confident dog can be a very stable living companion. And a dog can be "dominant/alpha" with other dogs and not show those tendencies with people whatsoever.

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:36 pm 
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We searched for the perfect pup for what felt like ages! Finally settled on a Great Pyrenees because of the temperament... Paid the application fee to the rescue and set up a time to meet an adoptable dog. Went to a dog shelter and met a dog who we didn't particularly click with.. Felt a strange guilt over that but it was undeniable, the dog in question had no interest in us no matter how hard I tried to charm her. On our way out we passed the cat area and I locked eyes with the funniest looking cat I had ever seen-- on second look it wasn't a cat at all- it was a chihuahua! Instant love at first sight, she is the best dog in the world. She might not be a Great Pyrenees but she's still great!


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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 2:37 am 
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We finally found our girl and she came home with us today. She is in so many ways not what i was looking for, but she's right for us. She is a 10 week old puppy born in a foster home to a yellow lab mix who was abandoned and starved while pregnant. Only 5 of her 11 puppies survived. Blondie, our girl is one of the biggest, but she is the mellowest. She is absolutely a puppy- loves to run and play, but she tires out quickly and then just wants to be with her people, i had to wake her up every two hours today to get her outside.

I actually know the woman who was fostering her- she works with the realtor we used to buy our house, and she wants to keep in touch and told me that her brother got adopted by a neighbor! Blondie is absolutely a mix, They expect her to be in the 50-60 lb range, she looks like a lab with some white on her nose and belly. Everyone says they think her dad is whatever they have- i heard everything from corgi to hound to shepherd today at the humane society from volunteers and people coming in and out. Apparently, the vet thought they might be a husky mix- the boys looked like huskies and the girls like their mom. I really don't care too much, she is a sweetie, and i can already see that she is smart. my son is very excited about his new sister, and i can see ill need to train both of them! i am horrible at pictures on here, i'll try tomorrow. Thanks for the encouragement, i feel like we are a bit more complete as a family now.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:29 am 
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Hooray!!!! Wonderful news!!! Congratulations!!! Can't wait to see pix!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:36 am 
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Congrats! Don't worry about trying to nail down her mix yet, she's so young and she will have lots of changes coming! Enjoy the ride!

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:58 pm 
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That is so exciting! She sounds like the perfect dog for you, and I'm happy that you found each other.

I can't wait to see pictures! She sounds absolutely adorable.


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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:59 pm 
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Yay! Hurrah for finding your pup!

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:25 pm 
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oh yay! congrats! i cant wait to see pics of Blondie!

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 Post subject: Re: Should we add a dog to our family, should it be this one
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:31 am 
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Congrats!!!

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