Monday Question – Off Topic: I Need Your Input, Please!

My family is thinking about getting a dog. A Golden Retriever or Labrador puppy would make an ideal companion for the boys, my husband always dreamed of uniting his beloved Land Rover with the matching dog and striding through the heath in an English landowner kind of way, and I?

I, the declared cat person, who never ever contemplated living with a dog, am not totally against it. Au contraire, I find myself seriously entertaining the notion, weighing pros and cons and reading up on the ins and outs of training and living with a dog.

The thing is though, I do not have any experience whatsoever with dogs. We never had one when I was a child, I even was (and partly still am) afraid of dogs because I got bitten by a rabid dog as a kid. (Not a fun memory.)

So I wanted to take advantage of your experience, dear readers. In this off topic MQ I ask for your help:

Have you ever owned a dog?

How does life change when living with a dog?

What do you think is necessary for the dog? What kind of lifestyle? What makes dogs happy?

Can you recommend good ressources (websites, blogs) about taking care of a dog?

question-mark

My Answer:

I find myself facing a decision harder that deciding to have children, actually. I am very aware of the huge responsibility (which would mostly lie with me, one cannot trust small kids OR a surgeon to help out in a big way), but my absolute conviction (present so far in my life) that there is no way that I ever even consider owning a dog is gone now. A big part of me would love it and welcomes the idea of a constant companion…

sleeping-golden-retriever-puppies-photo

And yes, I am aware that they grow up… 🙂

chocolate_labrador_01

Please share your experiences with me!

Dog or no dog, that is the question.

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About Olfactoria

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106 Responses to Monday Question – Off Topic: I Need Your Input, Please!

  1. Dear Birgit,
    We have four cats and a dog. I am much more of a cat person but our dog is a total sweetie. He was a stray (Border Collie mix), we found him 1 1/2 years ago on the street on a cold night.
    He was well educated and didn’t need to be taught where to do his business. He’s friendly with the cats too and obeys them, because he know it’s the cats who rule this house.
    Is there a possibility of adopting a dog from a shelter?
    The advantage with adult animals is that you already know their behavior, how they act with other animals and children.
    Dogs need food, veterinary attention, walks and a lot of affection. They give a lot more affection in return, of course.

    Caro

    • Olfactoria says:

      Dear Caro,
      thank you so much for your input. I love how you say the dog obeys the cats because he nknows who’s the boss! 😀

      I’m afraid to adopt a dog from a shelter to be honest, because I think many of these animals are in some way traumatized (at the very least they feel abandoned) and I am not sure if I can manage a “special needs” dog without any previous experience. That may be stupid but it is how I feel… 😦

  2. judith dm says:

    Dog! I never had a pooch growing up and for all the regular reasoons I didn’t accept a pooch into my home when my guys were young! Same excuses, too much work, too hard to train and the ultimate that it would be me picking up after it. It is my largest regret in terms of my family when it was young. All my oldest wanted when he graduated college was a pooch, a Doxie of all breeds! Six years later I love and adore Moxie. When she comes to visit she is pure joy, a snuggler and cuddler. Somehow as a single guy he managed to take care of her from a baby! Looking back how much work would it have been? Not so much that the rewards would not have been far greater! A loyal and loving companion, everyone should have a four legged one!

  3. Berna25 says:

    Dear Birgit,

    I am also a cat person. I never had the wish to live with a dog.

    Since one year my neighbours have a young dog. A “Schweizer Sennenhund”. She was such a pretty little puppy. But now she is really a “big” dog. About 55 kg. Wow!

    Unfortunately, she uses the garden as her toilette. Also when it is hot. Imagine?

    It is really, really a lot of work, when you have a little dog. And you need very, very good nerves 😉

    This is my opinion and by the way I am also afraid of dogs, but I really love cats.

    A one day, I would love to have such a beauty in my life.

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is a pretty big dog indeed! It is definitely not ideal that she “abuses” your garden, but that is not the dog’s but the neighbor’s fault… 🙂

      If it were about me only, I’d have a cat, for sure, unfortunately my husband is allergic and the fact that we leave for the country almost every weekend is not cat-friendly behaviour either, so…

      Thank you for your comment, Berna!

      • Berna25 says:

        Thank God it is NOT my garden! There’s a fence between. Of course it is the neighbor’s fault. Unfortunately, they have not enough time for the dog and this makes me sometimes very sad.

        It is an animal, which need love and also time, not only a thing.

        Have a nice day!

        • Olfactoria says:

          Good that is not your garden. Very sad indeed that the dog is all alone all day. That wouldn’t be the case with us, as I work from home he’d be with me constantly.
          Have a lovely day too, Berna and thanks!

  4. Sandra says:

    I would love a dog as well. But here is the dream killer for me – I do not foresee myself picking up the poop – even with a baggie. I just cannot do it. Besides, we do not have family here to help us out when we go on vacation.

    • Olfactoria says:

      As a former nurse I feel well equipped to deal with the poop issue. 😉
      Our family won’t be of help with the dog either, I believe they would declare us mentally unfit if we get one, but what can you do… 🙂

  5. Azar says:

    A dog (or dogs) have been a part of my life everyday since 1975. Not the same dog, of course, but a series of great friends, large to very small. By far the easiest to train and smartest of all have been two mixed breed rescue dogs. Bernard was an airdale x bassett (known fondly as the barrier hound or “the blonde low rider”). In the 1980’s and early 90’s he was my sons’ great companion and all around family friend. The dog in my life these days is another rescue mix (havanese x affenpinscher?). His name is Fender (named for the guitar or part of a car). Fender keeps me on a rigorous schedule. Rain or shine or snow or whatever Fender and I are outdoors everyday for at least a two mile walk. Fender is not a large dog (only about 18 lbs.) and is generally easy going but he still needs his daily workout.

    I believe what makes dogs happy is plenty of exercise, your companionship and a chance to learn new things. Fender also likes to be around other dogs and enjoys his training classes. Providing these basics for your dog WILL change your own schedule. As far as resources? I would recommend a training method based on gentleness and rewards. Everyone will be happier that way.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Azar! It is very helpful!
      Fender is a great name! 🙂

    • hildegunn says:

      Ah, this was such a lovely answer, and pretty much what I would have said too. Having grown up with dogs, and now the mum of a 18 month old Lagotto Romagnolo, I just can’t imagine my life without a dog. Lots of work, demands patience, time, the will to forgive, dirty floors, hair everywhere….(not with this one, he doesn’t shed). But the reward is som much bigger, AND I think it’s a very good thing for children to grow up with a pet, learning responisbility, empathy and being loved unconditionally. Good luck with your decision!

  6. Lynley says:

    Hi Birgit 🙂
    Since I moved out of home at 18 I’ve only owned cats, as they’re far less maintenance, but growing up we had dogs, mostly German Shepherds.
    The main differences are (and the reasons why I currently have cats and not dogs but I’m sure I’ll get another one day as they are a totally different experience):
    -Puppies eat everything. Shoes, toys, cables, plants, furniture- pretty much anything that will fit in their mouth. Labradors and retrievers are well known for their non- dog food appetites 🙂 Expect casualties :-/

    – dog poop. They seem to do an awful lot of it and I suspect that it will be you mum, cleaning it up 😉 They also take a bit longer to train than cats so you will get your floor piddled on at times.

    -big dogs need lots of space and exercise and moreover, company. This is the main reason I don’t have one as I live alone and my cat just sleeps. Making your dog a part of the family is the best part of having a dog, it will be the 5th person. So I think dogs are fabulous for families, and they are so loyal and rewarding, and thankfully dint just sleep all day 🙂

    -they smell like dog. Lol. Ours had a regular mobile dog wash, but it is a big change from soft fluffy sweet smelling kitty cat. A dog bed is a great idea otherwise it will want to share your bed and your sofa, and you will be covered in dog hair and smell like dog..

    -training. We had a dog that failed puppy school, she just wasn’t that bright. Lol. But dogs love to be taught and it makes things much easier on all. Boundaries are good.

    These are the main things I can think of that will probably be the most obvious and possibly intrusive differences, but they are just what you deal with for the joy that is a dog who will always be delighted to see you, follow you everywhere and provide years of delight. They are a totally different experience than cats. More hands on but that’s a good thing too. I think the boys will grow to have a more adventurous and free spirit by having dogs and that’s something I seem to find with all kids with a pet who’s a best friend too. Unconditional love. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Dear Lynley,
      thank you for all your information, it’s very valuable and helpful!
      It is a hard decision and we won’t do anything before springtime. It is so good to hear about real people’s experiences, not only what books tell you.

  7. Lady Jane Grey says:

    You have to be aware of the fact that a dog will change your life completely ! To nicer – but also to more complicated. What I’ve always found the most difficoult with my cats though : having a good sitter when we’re off for longer – and that’s probably even worse with dogs…
    BTW, I like dogs, I even had one ages ago, but I don’t like that dog-smell …

    • Berna25 says:

      Dog-smell… I know, what you mean. Phew! The smell of a wet dog in a train at 6 o’clock in the morning… Not my “cup of tea”! 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Dog smell – yeah, that is not the greatest thing in the world… 🙂

      I expect my life to be irrevocably changed (again, after having kids), and that is what makes it so hard. Do I want that? Do I even know what I want?

  8. Vanessa says:

    Dear Birgit, take your time to make this decision,please. My answer would be far too long here. If you want to hear the story of little children, a super cute Black Labrador ( he is 10yrs now), travelling and how your life will change, email me and I will be happy to meet you for a long coffee-dog talk

    • Olfactoria says:

      Dear Vanessa,
      we are in no rush, we agreed to not make a decision before next spring.
      I would love to hear all about your Labrador (and to meet you of course!).
      I’ll email you!

  9. VeniH says:

    Hello, I am also more a cat person than a dog person. We live in a two-family house, with a common garden. Our neighbours (actually they are our tennants) own a hunting dog who uses the whole garden as her toilet. My hobby is gardening… touching the soil frequently… and I am disgusted with the poos everywhere. The dog owners are of the opinion that doing poos is a natural need of every dog, and we do need the money they pay for rent. So I have very mixed feelings towards this dog. I like to pet her smooth reddish fur but I sooo much hate to step into her poos!!!!!!!! 😦

    • Olfactoria says:

      I can imagine that it is hard to put up with the problems of fhe dog of other people. 😦
      I think I will never be a general dog lover, I can imagine falling in love with ours, but the dogs of others – not so much. I wonder whether that makes me an unfit dog owner (although if I’m totally honest, I am not a big fan of other people’s children either. 😉 )

    • citypark says:

      Oh, that’s bad. The dog owners should pick up after the dog, that would be a good solution for everyone.

  10. Zazie says:

    I hesitated to comment because I have no experience on the subject to offer.
    But your post resonated so much I “had to” chime in!
    If you are willing to dedicate some time to your pet and if you have enough space for him, I say go for it! Since you are not against the idea I’m sure you’re “already ready”, if you know what I mean!
    I’d love to have a pet myself, cat or dog – I have no preferences (I find animals are just like humans, some I like, some I don’t).
    I don’t have any because I lack the two things above: my pet would not have enough space to feel free, and both myself and my husband are out all day long – I feel it would be selfish to get an animal and leave him all by himself, all day, in a small space. If I had a small garden, things might be different.
    I know many people will swear it works anyway, but their animals often just look sad and bored: I think that spending valuable time together is the greatest gift one can give to a dog. Or a cat.
    Well, it works with humans also!;)

  11. Ines says:

    I always felt a bit of an outcast in the perfume community as I’m a dog person. 🙂 I had a dog (and my boyfriend has one too) and it is a huge responsibility but it brings so much love back into your life.
    It will also teach your boys about responsibility and love for animals. And your choices are perfect as companions to children. Basically, you’re getting another child. 🙂 One that will shower your family with unconditional love. Just be aware that you will fall in love with your dog even if you think you won’t. It’s impossible not to love someone who gives you so much love.

    P.S. Even if the rest of your family thinks it’s a bad decision, just wait a while until they all love him (or her whatever sex is your choice). Chances are very high they will. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      “You’ll get another child!” Maybe that is what I am afraid of on the one hand, but also feel I already have a bit of experience so maybe it won’t be as hard as I think. And the advantage is that this furry child would be actually a lot easier to train that my real kids (or so I’ve heard).
      Thank you for your great input, Ines. I copied your comment to my “read when in doubt” folder. 🙂

  12. annemariec says:

    No special insights to add but I’m sending my best wishes for this tricky decision. I’m a cat person and my kids adore our two beautiful cats. I have to admit I do most of the cat care. Perhaps I should get the kids more involved; I know people say that pets encourage a sense of responsibility. But I suspect it would just add to the nagging I already have to do to get them to keep their rooms tidy etc, and I don’t want the cats to become another site of conflict and ill-temper. I’m a single parent so life is complex enough as it is! So I just do most of the cat care myself. One of the many compromises and juggling acts you have to accept as a parent. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Two cats must be lovely, but I’m sure they are enough work too.
      I like what Jordan down below says about never experiencing caring for his dog as work, I hope it goes like that for my boys to, and longer than the first two weeks. 😉

  13. Jordan River says:

    Samoyed dogs do not have odor. My Mum, after two kids felt similar to you but ended up enjoying the experience. If you assign all the dog chores to the boys they won’t even think it is work – I didn’t.

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is a very nice thought, Jordan.
      Right now, especially the older one is very keen on doing everything for and with a dog, so I guess I’d have a good chance to spin the responibilities as a fun activity for them.

  14. Alexandra says:

    Good morning – I just had to chime in!

    I live in a city and have a lovely cat, but I am absolutely a dog person (just don’t tell the cat).

    Growing up we always had dogs, and usually a pair of Great Danes! Our Great Danes were the sweetest, most loving creatures, and we have lovely pictures of my brother and I as toddlers sound asleep on a sofa dwarfed by them. The loyalty and companionship offered by a dog is absolute and unswerving, and something I believe enriched my childhood – however… they are a huge responsibility. They need a proper walk every single day (and will make you regret it if you don’t), puppies especially (but adult dogs too) will chew everything in sight: table legs, Christmas decorations, your Sunday roast, your favourite jumper – everything. There will inevitably be –erm- accidents (and trust me once you can deal with a Great Dane accident you are set up for life). You also do have to be very careful about where you get your dog from, as temperament can be a breed-able trait.

    But I suppose the biggest thing to bear in mind is that, unlike cats, dogs are not independent – they are happiest when they are with you (you will always feel guilty when you inevitably have to leave it locked in for the day) but that is why they become part of the family in a way that cats don’t.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Alex,
      thanks for your input. I am grateful for the pros and cons you mention. Maybe my greatest fear is that I am essentially unsuited to the daily companionship. Dogs are such social creatures, they love being surrounded by people and other dogs, whereas I often wonder whether I wouldn’t be happiest as a recluse in some lonely (albeit well appointed) cave. 😉

      P.S.: I won’t tell the cat!

  15. I am neither a dog nor a cat personally, even though we have a cat ( found her abandoned in a forest: a two week old kitten…. couldn’t possibly leave her there and Duncan is a TOTAL cat person – practically an Egyptian priest )

    The thing with dogs is that they are absolutely adorable; and all the things you mention sound fantastic.

    But they do smell. Really badly, especially Labradors, and I personally would definitely be able to stand that smell in the house every time I came home ( though you may become inured to the smell and not mind it as much as me to begin with ).

    That said, it might set off a new thing on your blog: perfume for interiors…

    I am not being facetious. As a sensitive scent lover, this is the only real drawback I can see. The joy the dog will bring to the household will probably offset anything else. And it sounds like you have already decided in any case.

    • Isabeau says:

      Yes labradors can smell 😦 especially after a rainshower or a swim but then I put the hose on them and let them stay outside till their dry or they can only be in the kitchen…and I own a lampe berger…works perfect ;-)!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I think the smell wouldn’t be that much of a problem for me (and I would invest in a nice home scenting system 😉 ).
      I haven’t made a decsison yet, but the other day someone told me: “Rationally you will always have to say no, but listen to your gut feeling, that is all you can do.” That and gathering lots of information.
      Thanks for your perspective, Neil.

  16. citypark says:

    I grew up with cats. Now we have our second dog, a stray puppy (a smaller mix with a high hunting drive) found in the streets. It was hard work to get her trained, it needed a lot of patience, treats and more patience and it worked out fine. She is now very naturally a part of the family.

    Dogs are like little children. They need love, encouragement, play, long walks, training, patience and understanding. As puppies they might destroy everything they can get their paws on, but if you work from home, you can supervise them better. On the other hand they don’t throw tantrums or talk back to you. They can get jealous however.

    Golden Retriever or Labrador are supposedly the best dogs for families, so go for it. As for older dogs or shelter dogs, I think with a lot of understanding they can work out fine. Sometimes you can also find puppies in shelters. Our first dog was passed on from neighbours, already an older dog (at least 8 years or above) and she was well behaved, well trained and adapted perfectly to her new situation.

    Dogs are a lot of work (I made clear however that I won’t be doing all the work alone right from the beginning), but a lot of fun too and very good for children.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you very much, citypark. The not talking back at me part is very attractive. At least I would have one kid who I might be able to bring up without tantrums. 😉

  17. Isabeau says:

    As you can see in my avatar we own two labradors and they are just great..can not imagine my life without them, they are always happy! The brown Labrador is already 9 years old and when I came to live with her and her family (my husband now and his three daughters) she had a really important role in the life of my stepdaughters. They lost their mother due to breast cancer and she was really a comfort for the girls..whenever they felt sad or had a difficult time the dog was always there for them! A year after I arrived the blond Labrador came in to our house. A great funny dog and most of all they are great together.
    Labradors are easy dogs, you can teach them anything you like as long as you are the boss and stay consistent, our dogs both had a puppy course. It was also a great for myself, knowing what to do or not to do. They love to walk and swim, but they don’t mind staying home and sleeping all day. Labradors are crazy about food, so you have to make sure you don’t over feed them. We love to watch the dog whisperer he gives great tips!

  18. Willie says:

    As a child I always wanted a dog but my m would never allow it. Now I have my own family and 2years ago my kids asked for a puppy for Christmas. I did some research and purchased a toy poodle. My most amazing purchase ever. I would give up all of my fragrances for my puppy. This is my first experience with any pet and I to had a fear of dogs. However, I’m now an avid dog lover. My wife has also grown to love him and she’s a cat person. If you still have hang ups about having a dog in your home, I would suggest starting off with a smaller breed. Research toy poodles, they are an amazing breed, very smart and hypoallergenic.

    • Olfactoria says:

      My husband’s mind is set on a larger dog, but I’ll be sure to research different breeds anyway, after all I know so little about dogs.
      Thank you for sharing your positive experience, and welcome to the blog, Willie!

  19. Vanessa says:

    No dog here – catless cat person as you so aptly coined it! Though I can see the appeal of a very small dog. Certain individual very small dogs have totally charmed me, notably a Dutch mongrel called Pippies who was part Jack Russell, part dachsund. I would even let her sleep with me under the covers when I visited her owners, that’s how cute she was. So personally I would agree with Willie and start small. Though a small dog doesn’t make so much of a statement with Dr O’s whole Land Rover / Barbour / Hunter Wellies / striding out in the country scenario. May look completely incongrous even. But I would start small personally – I love Dante, Lucy Raubertas’s Italian greyhound. So elfin and sweet.

    • Olfactoria says:

      You nailed it, V. The image of a small dog makes the whole British landowner thingy a bit ridiculous. 🙂
      But jokes aside, we both don’t like small dogs very much because they often are so hysterical and nervous (probably they feel they have to make up for their lack of size through insistent yapping and hopping). That may be a very biased view, but a very persistent one in my mind nonetheless.

  20. Annina says:

    lI have always lived with a dog. My family has always chosen collies – for a few generations, actually.

    For about 5 years living on my own, I had cats. I do like cats, but their idea of companionship is so very different than a dog’s. In fact, even my rescued, co-dependent, vocal cat’s affections were nowhere near a dog’s.

    My husband and I rescued a dog abut a year before having our first child (she was a 6 mo old puppy). He had always had a dog as a child too. Our dog is a mutt – believed to be a cross if German Shepherd and Pitbull (insert gasps and ‘bully-breed’ comments here). She is now almost 12, and has been a phenomenal companion. She was great when the kids were babies, patient with them as toddlers, and ever faithful even when she gets brushed aside in the flurry of busy lives. She has even been a surprising protector in 2 odd, shaky situations.

    I will always have a dog in my home, as do everyone in my family – my parents (on their 5th collie), my brother, and my extended family. Dogs are considered family members in our family, and frequent the same family events that we do – everyone brings their dog.

    The most important thing with dogs is to train them early in the basic manners and socialize them with as many people and other dogs as you can.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Your last sentence makes me wonder… I guess it is the source of my insecurity whether it would be a good idea or not. Am I sociable enough for my dog? It sounds absurd, but I do prefer solitude to social situations most of the time. No doubt it would do me good, as staying in my proverbial cave is not always the smartes or healthiest of behaviours.

      Thank you for your advice, dear Annina.

  21. Jackie b says:

    I am a dog and cat person, have 2 of each. Many breeds of dog do not shed or smell, they are all loyal companions and good company for children! I recommend puppy school…I learned more than the puppy!
    Labradors are great, very undemanding and will adapt to you. I have a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, similar temperament but acres smaller!

  22. ringthing says:

    I couldn’t have pets growing up and I always wanted them, so when I had a family of my own, we adopted a one year old golden retriever. My daughter, an only child, was three at the time; she and the dog grew up together and she now has two dogs of her own. A well trained dog is a joy to own. My advice: go through a good training course and work with your puppy early on. Big dogs need lots of exercise, patience and time but the results are well worth it. Enjoy 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is our greatest concern and biggest “must”, that the dog is extrememly well trained and knows how to behave him/herself, I believe it would make life with it a lot easier. But I know it is a lot of work…
      Thank you, ringthing!

  23. shellyw says:

    Good Morning,
    I am a dog owner. I have a 104 pound Bernese Mountain Dog (no, not the kind with a keg of brandy under the chin ☺). I found reading good books about positive discipline made it seem more do-able. They tell you what to look for and then how to respond. Currently I am reading The focused Puppy by Jones and Keller. I also recommend Uncle Boris in the Yukon and other Dog Stories just for a good laugh. It is by children’s author D. Pinkwater about his family’s dogs and his early life running a dog training school. Both can be found on Amazon. All dogs need care of which you are aware, after all you are a mom. But, not all dogs need large space to run, some are happy with walks instead. Best of luck to you and your family, It can be a great thing.

    • Sherri says:

      Dear Birgit,

      Well, we are great animal lovers, with 8 (yes, you read that correctly!) dogs and 4 cats. Some are my teenagers’ and young adults’ pets, but you know how that goes…the kids help out but they’re still part of our household for now.

      I think you have to research breeds and examine very carefully which breed would suit you and your family. Golden retrievers and labs are totally lovable, for instance, but very high-energy, and stay “puppies” for a long time (some say all their lives!). They are excellent with children, however (that was always a huge requisite here). I personally prefer the giant breeds (have an English Mastiff and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog) because they are much more laid back, but they too have drawbacks (their size makes them hard to transport anywhere, short lifespan, etc.). We have a German Shepherd, too, and she’s awesome, but again was much more effort to train. You also have to be careful, at least here in the U,S. where you purchase a Shepherd. Some unscrupulous breeders have produced unstable temperaments, and you don’t want that–especially having been traumatized previously. So many great breeds available, why take a chance?

      Small dogs: I am also crazy about my toy poodle. She loves everyone, and is as clean and non-smelling as a dog can get. (Three of our dogs are inside; the rest outside as property guards). The fur is another huge issue with Labs and Retrievers; they shed like crazy. Small dogs are less smelly, but in my experience, surprisingly harder to house train. I could go on and on, but at any rate, you have to decide to do what is right for you and your family. Dogs give alot of love and bond tightly (then again so have my Siamese cats), but there is going to be a lot more work involved.

      • Olfactoria says:

        Thank you Sherri, for sharing your wealth of experience. Eight dogs – that is really a lifestyle of its own.
        I will look further into the matter of breed to find the best fit for us.

    • Sherri says:

      Shelly, wow!! You have a 104-lb Bernese?! I didn’t think they got that large! We have a 110 lb. Swissie; he’s small for a GSMD! Our Luke, who died a few years ago was a whopping 150 lbs. (not overweight; we strictly monitor the giant breed dogs’ diets) huge Swissie! I bet your Bernese is a sweetie! They’re a really loving breed!

      • shellyw says:

        104 and not fat. I also asked for a girl because I drive a small Prius but the best laid plans… She is a dream though. My sister had 2 before so I knew I was getting into hair etc… Swiss-ies are a bit rare down here. Maybe we see one for every 100 berners.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Wow, Shelley, that is no small dog you have there. 🙂
      Thank you very much for the book tipes, I really appreciate them and will surely check them out.

  24. Suzanne says:

    You’ve already received a lot of excellent advice to sift through and weigh as you make your decision. Owning a dog is a lot like having another child – and you will need to make sure your shoes (and anything else you don’t want chewed up) are carefully store out of sight and reach, if you go with a puppy. But it truly is amazing the kind of love that a dog can give back — they are unswerving in their love and devotion, and pretty much always in a happy mood. My niece got a golden retriever as a puppy last year, and he has been an absolute doll baby. Compared to the cocker spaniels they always had before, he has been easy to train. Don’t know if she just got lucky or if that’s the way the breed is, but he’s a darling and very laid back.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I’ve heard that the breed is very eager to please and love to learn, so it is nice to hear your niece’s dog is an example of that theoretical bit of knowledge.
      I am glad I put up this MQ, there is indeed a wealth of information coming in, I am happily surprised that perfume people not only own cats. 😉

  25. arline says:

    You will get A LOT of opinions here, but I will chime in.

    I LOVE dogs very much, but I do not own one, but may some day. I have many reasons why I don’t have one now.

    I dog sit often, and I also do private yoga classes in peoples homes, and I get to see many types of canines. This has helped me tremendously for my future criteria for bringing one into my home.

    I know you have been doing your research, but I suggest meeting as many dogs as you can, so you can get a feel for personalities and whether they will click with you. Some are really needy and require quite a bit of attention, and some are more aloof. I personally want an affectionate dog, that is not needy (and that does not lick excessively). I am actually caring for one like that now. She is a mutt, a very pretty and unusual combination of a few breeds.

    Do you want a big dog or a small dog?
    The adorable puppy pics that you have shown will be big. Many big dogs need A LOT of exercise, (especially labs and retrievers) and they will get dirty and can smell. (puppy smell is the best) but sometimes dogs can get funky. so…

    Consider smell factor. I had never heard of the breed that Jordan mentioned. (good option)
    I can not deal with stinky dog smell, at all!!! I am sure there are many breeds that don’t smell, but as mentioned Labs are not one. There are dog perfumes out there, so you can a puppy perfumista!!!!

    Small dogs can have really bad breath, so they need to have their teeth cleaned frequently.

    I know that I want a dog that does not shed, for that would drive me nuts!!! Research non shedding dogs (unless that does not bother you).

    All dogs require time, love and attention, especially puppies. They are pack animals, so maybe two is better than one. They will play with each other, when you cannot.

    Dogs are joyful and fun!!! I wish you luck in finding your perfect puppy or puppies.

  26. FeralJasmine says:

    I have done adult rescue dogs throughout my adult life, all large breeds, usually three at a time, but I don’t recommend rescue dogs as a family’s first dog, although if course it can work out brilliantly. Golden Retrievers are hard to beat as a “starter dog” since they are incredibly loving and want to please their people. Labs are similar. People who are fanatical about dog hair or any out-of-the-ordinary smell probably shouldn’t have dogs. To address your thoughts about solitude, dogs generally love being solitary with you. I am somebody who needs a lot of alone time, and the dogs have always done just fine with that. When I need to tuck up and read, they sprawl around and add to the general peacefulness of the scene (once they are past puppyhood.) Dogs complicate your life, and they make it joyful. I can’t imagine being without them.

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is a wonderful comment, Feral Jasmine and it gives me some peace of mind. The dog sharing in the solitude is what I hoped would be possible and you saying it is for you, makes me happy. (I will go out with him too, no worries! 🙂 )
      Thank you!!!

      • FeralJasmine says:

        Just as an example, I am home from work on medical leave right now and solitary all day except when the physical therapist comes. I read and knit and listen to music, and maybe once every hour or two my dogs get up, stretch, and come over to be petted for a few minutes, then lie down again happily. My husband has taken over the evening walks for now, and they do get very excited when a walk is imminent, but most of the time they seem to enjoy the healing peace and solitude as much as I do. A dog door and fenced yard help enormously b giving them control over their bladder functions. Don’t know if that is practical with your setup.

  27. Shelley says:

    What a lovely post! As a cat and dog lover, I’ll chime in. Dogs only need one good exercise outing per day to keep them healthy and stimulated. We take our golden retriever to large areas safe from traffic (fields, beaches, trails, parks) where she can run, roll, chase a ball, sniff, and hunt, as well as play with occasional other dog friends.

    Dogs love and are happiest with their family, so you’ll want to make sure it will have people around and isn’t left solitary for long hours on a regular basis.

    The lab breed is generally a higher-activity, higher-energy breed than the golden retriever. A dog with lots of ball-drive will also be more demanding. If your lifestyle is active, that’s perhaps the better breed for you. The golden, otoh, is a softer energy that is to me more like a cat. Mine is very content to cuddle, sleep, and play gently. For people like me, the golden is a far better breed. But each individual dog is a little different so it’s good to observe the dog and his or her parents to assess.

    Both breeds are good-natured and friendly with people and other dogs, and as you take your companion into the world and watch it interact with other dogs, you’ll find yourself becoming fond of the ones that she or he likes to play with.

    Hope this gives you some new ideas to consider! A dog is a lifetime of love and enjoyment. It is in her genes to watch out for her loved ones and to spin and celebrate each time she sees you!
    Shelley

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you very much for adding your experiences, Shelley! I think a Golden Retriever might be the best match for us, a good mix of activity and cuddly tendencies. 🙂

  28. Lucy says:

    I have a “cat-dog” which is an Italian Greyhound, but they are not suitable for young children. An ancient breed, he doesn’t shed, smell or bark incessantly, perfect for a city apartment, and bred to be companionate. Tho there are also other breeds of dogs who don’t shed or smell or bark incessantly. The labradoodle might be a good choice for a family with kids. They are also hypoallergenic. There are books and guides online that help you choose the type of dog that is right for you as to exercise requirements, aging issues, etc. They are indeed more work than cats, and can’t be left alone like cats, if you travel much. They usually do require more vet care too, so there is that extra expense. And most likely you will be the one taking primary care of the dog, as to walking, feeding, grooming, just being realistic here. That said, there is nothing to compare to a dog for devotion, pure joyfulness and companionship. They will save your life, lead the blind, rescue disaster victims, all that and even more, but it takes equal attention and devotion from your side to make that so. There are recent studies and tests that show a dog has the emotional capacity of a young child, they are sensitive and very impressionable. If it seems too daunting, a substitute maybe to visit a shelter and walk dogs with the kids so they get a good taste of looking after a dog, and also see what can happen to the poor things when people get tired of the work that is required. I consider my own dog to be like my brother, he is elderly now, 15 years old, and I have to prepare myself for what will surely happen sooner or later. He is fragile now and I treat him as like a crystal goblet, so he remains as sprightly and healthy as possible. I might be sounding stern about all this but I just want to make sure newbies understand what they are getting into, as there are too many sad animals in need of rescue at the shelters to ignore the possible consequences. Sometimes it seems like it would be better for many dog owners to go to the shelters and help socialize the dogs that are stuck there till they understand what’s involved. You seem like you have a stable and comfortable living situation so should be able to handle it. But no matter what, in sickness or health, no matter the weather every day, you will be out there twice a day with a dog for at least 30 minutes each time, yard or no. Otherwise you end up with a bundle of nerves that misbehaves and is unhappy. Personally I would recommend a smaller dog because it’s easier to take them with you traveling, and most visitors and others don’t mind them indoors as much and they live a lot longer.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Vanessa (Bonkers) was very taken with yur beautiful dog, Lucy, and I love how you say you treat him like a crystal goblet. I hope he will be with you for a long time still.
      Thank you for all your valueable advice, I appreciate it!

  29. poodle says:

    I have lots to say about this topic but no time right now so I’ll send you an email later. There’s a lot of good advice here that people have shared. Research and take your time making a decision.

  30. Mihaela U says:

    I had a puppy many years ago but my parents took it away from me as they thought a dog was not good for a 7 year old kid. I totally disagree, dogs can teach kids responsibility, as long as the dog and the kid are properly educated. Both the dog and the kid are going to be huge time consumers but they in my opinion they are worth it. As a kid one of the best memories are the pet memories with its good and bad parts. I don’t have any pieces of advice to give but Cesar Millan’s books are pretty good and also you can watch some of his video’s on youtube. When it comes to educating and training the young dog I think he is the best because he really undestands dog psychology. Wish you all the best! ^_^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANpMApPnWCM

  31. susan says:

    Birgit, others have given you more ample and helpful messages than I have time to – I’ll just give you something from my personal experience. I love dogs and indeed all animals. I am also the mom of a 4-year old. I got the dog when my daughter was about six months old. He was a puppy at that time.

    I love my dog, but I think I can assuredly say that I would not get a dog with a small child in the house again. If I had to do over, I would have waited until she is in middle school or something, and adopted an older dog. Potty-training my dog was difficult. Everything was difficult. It was like having another child. It is a lot of work. And when we travel it, it is quite expensive to get pet-sitting for him. Like $60/day, since we do not have friends & family in our city that want to do this for free.

    I hate to say this, but our experience with our dog has basically decided us that once he passes, we will not have another pet.

    • susan says:

      I should add – my daughter really does love the dog. A lot. His name was her first word. She already talks about wanting another dog. But… she doesn’t realize the work and stress it creates for us.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thankfully my sons will be 4 and 7 by the time we get a puppy, so I think that makes difference. Taking on a baby and a puppy at the same time must be really stressful, so I completely undrstand your reservations.
      Thankfully we also have willing dog sitters in the neighborhood, so I think the infrastructure for a dog would be here, or I wouldn’t even consider getting one.

  32. dee says:

    Bee!

    You’ll grow to love the companionship of a dog, but I suggest you find the one that YOU love– because you’re totally correct– it’s care will be mostly yours. Find a breed that suits your energy, and your real life. Michi’s English lord fantasy can adapt! 😉
    There are websites that help match up breed temperament with lifestyle: http://animal.discovery.com/breed-selector/dog-breeds.html
    I loved having a dog; our Japanese Akita was big, but quiet, calm, and intelligent. A good friend.
    Good luck!!!
    ❤️❤️❤️

  33. lucasai says:

    My family never really considered getting a dog.
    When I was 8 years old we suddenly got ourselves a furry friend. It was a female dachshund, rescued from the forest where someone abandoned her. We took her home and so she stayed with us. Unfortunately she died earlier this year, few weeks before Easter. She was 14 and had some health problems but she has a wonderful life with us.
    Having a dog at home can teach you quite a few things.Sense of time (dog won’t wait until you get off from bed), patience, some healthy movement opportunities (going for a walk with it). It will also give you new friends who also have dogs plus a dog brings so much jou to every home. They can do so many funny things, and participate in laughful situations.

  34. Lavanya says:

    If I were ever to get a dog (that was not a shelter dog) I would most likely get a Labrador/golden retriever..Like in the case of people, there are some dogs I’m scared of and some I’m not..Labradors and golden retrievers are absolute darlings- at least the ones I’ve encountered. My aunt and uncle had one (I can never tell the difference between golden retriever and lab but I think theirs was a golden lab). She was the sweetest dog and a great comfort to me when I arrived to the U.S for the first time (I stayed for a few days at my uncle’s place). Just her presence was so reassuring. They also don’t seem to be ‘jealous’ dogs (from what I’ve heard). Which is good when you have kids whom you will probably ‘petting’ more that you might pet the dog.

    Having said that- ‘raising’ a dog is soo much work. Two kids AND a dog?- Birgit- I salute you. 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      Me too. I’m afraid of many dogs (even some small ones, they seems so vicious at times), but Goldens I implicitly trust. I’m glad you had a welcoming” dog upon your arrival in the US.
      Nothing to salute, I only hope this “third child” will be the one that actually does what I tell him to. 😉

  35. Natalie says:

    I am an “animal person” rather than a cat or dog person, although I have a preference for cats. 🙂 I grew up with both (meaning my mom did most of the work) and I have had both as an adult. Most of the things that stand out to me have already been said, but I will add my two cents.

    First, I really recommend fostering! I think this is a great way to decide if getting a dog is right for you, as well as to learn how to care for a dog with the support of experts (the people who organize the foster). If fostering isn’t an option, there might be organizations that need volunteer dog walkers. That might give you and your boys a chance to gain experience with some of the breeds and get comfortable with dogs before you adopt one of your own (if you decide to do so).

    I would also consider what breed you get very carefully. As of course you know, the amount of time, attention, exercise, and health care varies widely with breed. Labs and goldens need more exercise than almost any other breed, in both quantity and how vigorous the exercise is. This website (http://www.justdogbreeds.com/dog-breeds.html) describes breeds by qualities like ease of training, good with children, etc. As far as shelter dogs, I will share that I have only ever had shelter dogs, and it’s pretty easy to tell with a trial which of them still have their sweet spirits intact and which of them need a more experienced trainer’s hand (I don’t like to think any are a lost cause).

    The last thing is that I found taking my dog to a training class to be a really valuable experience. I learned not only how to train him, but lots of general tips about taking care of him.

    Okay, that was a long response. 🙂 Sorry. Good luck with your decision!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you for your very good and helpful ideas, Natalie! I will certainly try to make the aquaintance of as many dogs as possible in the coming weeks and months.
      Dog training classes are definitely on the agenda, we want our dog to be very well trained and I believe it will make him happy too, as they want and need to learn. And as you say, I need it it too! 🙂

  36. Tora says:

    I have had dogs my whole life. I will have dogs till I leave. I like to have only one at a time, and give them my full attention. They DO require a great deal of consistent, persistent, and loving attention. Dogs need a great deal of exercise to burn off all that energy, and it is very important for their mental health, also. I had dogs while raising my two children. They loved the dogs, but were resistant and reluctant to do the walking, and brushing etc. I think most Moms I know who have dogs will agree that they do 99% of the care giving. Be prepared for that. Puppies are a handful. Some dogs take forever to house train, others are easier. Puppies think your whole house is a chew toy. Dogs do not simplify your life.

    I have been pretty harsh so far, so let me just tell you what is most important. No one, and I mean no one loves me more than my dog does. They are loyal to a fault. My dog would leap through burning flames to save me. She knows when I am sad, and she is there to provide comfort and love. She is steadfast and true. She is my best friend. When your kids are at school, and your husband is at work, she/he will be by your side asking for nothing but your love. Well, and all those other things I spoke of.

  37. Aisha says:

    I’m a cat person. The end. 😉

    Really, though, pets are family and if you and your family are ready to take in a puppy do it! My son is on the higher end of the autism spectrum and his cats have really helped him in learning how to care for others. Both of our cats are really fond of him. Too fond, actually, as they’ve tried to wake him up — on a school night — by pawing at his room door. I’d be upset, but I think it’s so sweet. My son does like dogs, but he has a hearing sensitivity issue and is therefore afraid of them.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is … if the right puppy adopts you (like the right cats adopted us), you’ll never regret your decision to bring one in to your home. 🙂

  38. rosiegreen says:

    I love cats and dogs, currently we have a rescue dog, Pearl, and she is a mix of Golden retriever and Bouvier Des Flandres and she weighs about 65 lbs, she is a great cuddler and companion. My suggestion is to read any books you can find by Dr Stanley Coren, especially” Why we love the dogs we do: How to find the dog that matches your personality” and meet as many dogs as you can to see if you like the personality and energy level. If you don’t want a rescue dog, go visit breeders and get acquainted with the different breeds. The best thing about dogs is that they love you without limits. Not all dogs smell, and sometimes it depends on their diet. Good luck in your search for your new family member.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you for the book tip, it is already on my Amazon wishlist!
      We will visit several breeders in the next weeks to get a feel for dogs and the people who breed them too! 😉

  39. hajusuuri says:

    Growing up, we had dogs and cats although I do not have any pets right now due to space, being away all day and my aversion of cleaning up after them. That said, my brother has 2 King Charles Cavaliers and they don’t smell (as far as I can tell when I go visit) and they are not high maintenance. He also used to to have an English Mastiff, a ginormous dog, protective of kids, but oh my the super sticky saliva spray…

  40. I am a cat person, too. But my best friend had a lab that I loved. She was a wonderful pet and part of the family.

  41. fleurdelys says:

    My family owned dogs since I was an infant, before I could even remember. I’ve had a dog or dogs around all my childhood and adult life; the longest I was without a dog was 2-1/2 years, and it was awful! My husband and I have owned Shetland Sheepdogs (my favorite breed) for the past 22 years. I’ve gotten dogs from shelters, rescue groups, and breeders.

    All that being said, I advise not getting a dog only for the sake of your children, nor as an accessory for your Land Rover. A dog is a living thing, not a machine that can be switched off and put away when you are busy, and attended to when it is convenient. Any pet requires work, and be aware that YOU will most likely be the one to feed it, walk it, groom it, and take it to the veterinarian. The costs of food and vet care add up, and if the animal is ill or requires surgery it gets very expensive very quickly. In addition, if you travel frequently you will no longer be able to just pick up and go, but will have to make arrangements for someone to care for the dog if it is not going along with you. And the entire family has to realize that you will outlive the dog; it will be with you for all of its natural life, and you will have to face its final illness and death.

    I’m writing here as a dog owner for almost 58 years, and a dog lover who has seen animals dumped in shelters because they were the wrong breed for the family, or they ceased to be cute puppies, or were too much work, or the owner found out after the fact that they were allergic, or the dog became old and ill and the owner wasn’t willing to care for them. I don’t mean to sound grim, but I advise caution and careful thought before adopting one.

    Why do I have dogs? Because life would not be worth living without them.

  42. Hey there Birgit,
    Do they have greyhound rescue there in Austria. Personally I find the puppy faze torturous and like a pre trained, quiet, cuddly dog that doesn’t bark and sheds only a little. For exercise a 5-10 minute walk or a 4 hour ramble, they don’t mind as long as they can go to the toilet at regular times and can have a cuddle. They are smart and need to be trained very little, and you are doing a wonderful thing giving a dog that would probably be killed a home.
    Another grerat thing is that greyhounds live around 12 years, you get them from 3-5 years old and that means only a 7-9 year jail term.
    Portia xx

  43. Dionne says:

    There’s a lot of excellent advice here, Birgit, and I’ll second a bunch of it. 1) Spend the time to do research for a breed that is the best fit for you and your family. Things like hair, size, if they’re a guard dog or watch dog (not the same thing), energy level, what the breed was originally intended for (ie. spitz dogs were bred to pull as a group so they’re more independent than retrievers which were bred as a hunting dog that stay at your side), intelligence – a smart dog is easier to train but can be inventively destructive if they get bored, health problems of the breed, etc. That being said, there’s advantages to getting a “mutt.” Check out the concept of hybrid vigor to see what I’m talking about. 2) See if you can babysit the dog of a friend for a weekend. People can often have somewhat “Disney-fied” ideas about dog ownership, and just like having kids, they’re worth it but also more aggravating than you’d think. 3) There are pros and cons to getting a puppy vs. an adult dog, and buying from a reputable breeder compared to a rescue. If you do go rescue, I’d get a dog from a system that places them in foster homes. You’ll get a much better idea of the personality of the dog from the family it’s been living with. 4) Definitely do obedience lessons. Frankly, it’s as much for you to learn how to communicate to the dog as it is for them to develop good manners, and it’s an excellent way to bond as you can see how hard they’re trying to please you.

    Count me in as another fan of large and giant breeds, as I enjoy their calmness and presence. I still miss my beloved Angus, a Lab/Newfoundland cross who was an absolutely stellar dog that we got to have with us for 12 years. We have a Golden Retriever now, and he’s lovely, but I offer a word of caution. Holy cow, the hair!

  44. Isabelle says:

    Aware that I am coming very late in the discussion,AND had no time to reed other answers so my testimony might be of little use.nevetheless….I am a cat person and quite sensitive to smell (kind of obvious as I am afan of this blog….) a good race for cat lovers ,not so known so not degenerated either, are lapinkoïra, look like a nordic dog with nice hair and all,with the nice personnality of labrador,but (with all due respect to labrador lovers) better looking and less smelling, if not smelling at all.Quite independent as well.I have my Nina now for two years,never fought I could ever be so found of a living creature as I am of her.And she is very respectful of my two cats! Happy to share more about Lapinkoira throug email if you want! Isabelle

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