It's been about a year since we've had a dog in our household and we are thinking about getting another one.
I'm careful to follow up any talk about getting a new dog with a couple conditions. That doesn't mean it's fine and dandy for friends and relatives to drop off puppies they can't get ride of. I'm not responsible for other people not getting their animals spaded or neutered. Maybe I'm not really interested in your Rottweiler/Doberman mix. Dogs live a fairly long time and the fit with the family should be a good one.
The best dog we ever had came from a shelter. The poor beast had been adopted out of the shelter, then a few months later it had been dropped off again. I've no idea what had happened to the dog, but every time I happened to raise my voice even a little, he would roll over on his back and pee itself.
Fortunately, with lots of patience, the dog, Mickey, got over it. He was odd looking -half beagle and half black lab. Picture a mostly black dog with white feet and a white chest. It was a little bit taller than a beagle and much longer. It ran funny.
The dog developed a great personality. People I didn't know, knew my dog. He looked pretty harmless, and just ate up attention. He was good with kids. Cats would snuggle up to it. Yet I saw him chase away bear and moose.
Because of the beagle in him, I though he might make a good hunting dog. He wasn't all that good. He'd chase rabbits and sometimes bring them around. Fairly often he'd lose the scent. Occasionally, he'd decide to point birds. On the plus side, he had so much darn fun hunting that you didn't mind he was only middling at it. The sound of gunfire never spooked him, a bit plus.
The old boy lasted 18 years. Broke my heart when he passed.
I did keep a large mixed breed dog for a year, but had to find it a new home. My granddaughter came to live with up for a while and the dog wasn't child friendly. Hated to see the dog go, but since it was a threat to my grandkid, it was no contest.
Now my wife and I have the house to ourselves once more. She's starting to bug me to get another dog. Now I know every dog is different. There will never be another Mickey. However, there are certain qualities I'm looking for. It should be a medium sized dog. Too big and everyone is frightened of it. Too small and no one takes it seriously. Mutts are preferred. Some sort of hunting breed in the mix would be good. The dog must be good with kids.
Out in the country, a dog is the best alarm one can have. They hear things coming long before humans can. The new dog should be able to perform a number of critical jobs. It should chase the darn squirrels out of the garden. The mutt should keep the raccoons and bears at bay. (or at least make a fuss about them.)
One of the reasons we are looking at a smaller breed, is that it's more convenient to travel with a smaller dog. Many hotels and campground have a 40 pound weight limit on dogs. It's just plain easier to travel with a dog that doesn't fill up your whole vehicle. (also easier to clean up after -no minor consideration.)
Big dogs can make for some awesome security. I've friends we visit occasionally. They've always keep a couple of big German Shepards. Every time I get to their gate, I stop the car and call the house on my cell phone. Even though I've been there many times before, the dogs won't let me in unless their owners give the approval. Once my friends give the OK, the dogs relax and we are fine for the duration of the visit. Should we go away for a couple weeks then come back, we go through the whole drill all over again. Those dogs know what their job is and take it seriously.
One of the reasons we are holding off on a dog right now is that funds are tight. I feel we aren't in a position to responsibly take care of another dog. It's not just the day to day expenses, but things like vet bills. It's fairly easy to run a sudden $1000 bill. If you can't afford to pay vet bills, you can't afford a dog. With any luck, we'll be in a better position soon. When that happens, no doubt my wife will be making the rounds of the animal shelters.