Our guest blogger this week is Priscilla McCarty. Priscilla and her husband Bryan have been fostering dogs for Old Dog Haven for nine years. Because Priscilla and Bryan have perfected the art of living with more than one dog I asked Priscilla to share her thoughts with you. I especially like the sentence I’ve underlined in the 5th paragraph because it offers a bit of a different perspective about living with more than one dog. Enjoy!
I have had dogs since I was a young girl. My mother called me “dog crazy.” But the rule my mother had was that there could only be one dog at a time. Of course I thought that was unreasonable because I would have taken in every stray that appeared in our neighborhood, along with those dogs I worried about because the neighbors decided they didn’t “need” their dog anymore.
As an adult, I continued to limit myself to just one dog. I was trying to be reasonable after all. But, as luck would have it, things changed in my life. And for the good I might add! Both my husband and I worked full-time, we commuted two hours round trip a day, and we led very busy lives outside of work too. One day I was introduced to the first golden retriever I ever had the pleasure of meeting. It was love at first sight. It was at that point I decided I needed a golden in my life. Just a short time later a woman I knew who was a dog trainer and who also helped re-home dogs others were giving up found the perfect golden for us.
Hope was only a year old, had lots of energy, and of course, wasted no time wanting all of our attention, all of the time. After only a week or two of having to leave her alone in a large kennel while we were away during the day, we decided that she needed a friend, so we answered an ad for another golden that had been chained in a yard for years and needed to be rescued. We took Hope to meet the new dog, and it was love at first sight for the two of them. Really, how hard could it be to have two goldens instead of one? They had a wonderful time together, were great company for one another, and kept us entertained as well. But, we also realized that while we now had two mouths to feed, these two very different personalities both blossomed before our eyes, not only toward each other, but to us as well.
It has been many years since we shared that experience, and both those dear dogs are now gone, but after that, we decided we would not ever have “just” one dog again! One evening on TV we heard the story of Old Dog Haven and were immediately hooked on helping this wonderful organization. We had just adopted a dog through another rescue group, but were looking for a second dog when we met Max, our first adoptee from ODH. We loved having two dogs, but thought, (well, initially it was me that thought this) if we can have two dogs, why not add a third because there was such a need for senior dogs finding new homes. Three was simple enough, and pretty soon it was four. You get the picture! We are now almost always at six and honestly, when we meet someone for the first time and are telling them about Old Dog Haven, and they ask how many dogs we have and we tell them (with large smiles on our faces!) we are caring for six, sometimes they look back at us in disbelief. But, if we are feeding three or four and another senior dog in desperate need of getting out of the shelter comes along, how can you say no?
Yes, multiple dogs are more work, do take more time, need exercise every day (as do we!) do cost more to feed, need to make visits to the vet and need meds on a daily basis, BUT, THE REWARDS FAR OUTWEIGH THE TIME AND EFFORT ONE PUTS INTO THESE DEAR DOGS. And, no matter how many dogs we have, there are always different personalities that emerge once they are here and feel at home.
Each dog brings something to the pack that is not only good mental stimulation for the other dogs, but makes life interesting for us too.
Some are quiet and not demanding at all. Others are very demanding and always seem to “need” something. Some are clowns, some almost make us cry with the joy we see on their faces as they run around our little farm. Some love to sleep away the day, some come with serious medical issues, or have been abused or neglected and have been left with a permanent mark on their personalities and/or their bodies. Others are up and standing at attention every time we move toward the door, never wanting to miss anything we might be doing.
A friend visiting us one day looked at me and said, “How do you ever remember their names?” I replied, “If you had six children, wouldn’t you remember their names?” Yes, I suppose in some ways these dogs are like our kids, (who are all grown now) but it is not that these dogs fill a void in our lives, but rather we feel that what we share with them, they give us back to us TEN FOLD in unconditional love and it doesn’t get any better than that! Even when many of the 27 dogs we have had so far have, in many cases, led pretty tough lives, they are all thrilled to greet us when we walk through the door whether we’ve been gone five minutes or five hours. In fact, they thank us in so many ways every single day for giving them a new lease on life. Yes, we know we always will have to tell each of these dogs goodbye at some point, but the love we share back and forth while they are with us, is so worth the effort!
If you are a first time dog owner, or you have had numerous dogs before, we urge you to consider “adding to your pack.” The gifts you will receive back will be huge! We look forward to the next dog that comes our way and will enjoy the wonderful pleasure of saying “Welcome home!”