Friday, 10 October 2014

Lessons learned-- choosing the right dog

As a family we decided to find a pet dog.  The kids have been wanting a dog for many years and while we lived in England we rented with a no pet clause in our lease.  So we promised that once we settled in the states we would look into getting a pet.  First the kids had to prove they were going to actually take care of the pet and they did that by taking excellent care of my parents dog over the summer for a month.  They feed, played and walked her with no complaints.  So it was time to pony up and start looking for a dog.

I wanted to find a dog that was previously owned so that it was mostly trained so I started looking out for people who where needing to get rid of there dogs.  I responded to an ad for a coonhound.  My quick look up on the internet consisted of reading "good family dog" and I stopped researching which was my mistake number one.  The owners allowed us to bring the dog home for a week so we could see how she settled in and how the kids managed her.  The owners could no longer keep the dog because they were expecting a baby and both worked so the dog was not getting the attention it needed so they reported to us.

When we arrived Junebug was extremely energetic and the owners had a hard time settling her down, I just assumed that since she was only a year old that she was just excited, mistake number two!  The owners than explained to us how to use the shock collar and prong collar, mistake number three!  We loaded up the dog and crate and took her home for a trial run.  She was very excitable that evening and we all chalked it up to just getting use to us and I spent the better part of the evening dog proofing the house, mistake number four!

By 10:30 the next morning Junebug had eaten a book, two magnets, a bead, various papers and pencils and tore her pet toy and tried to eat the stuffing resulting in her vomiting twice in the school room.  Despite taking her on several walks her energy level was off the charts.  I called my husband and told him there was no way we could keep this dog and how were we going to tell the children this wasn't the right dog for us!  This dog did not bark it howled and wouldn't stop setting off my youngest with his sensory issues.  But I was determine to try to get the dog under control using more humane approaches while it remained  in our home.  By the end of the week we had gotten June bug  to settle down greatly and we stopped using the shock collar completely.  Junebug required lots of attention and constant praise to reward good behavior and I did a whole lot of research for training dogs.  This dog was responding to the training and I knew it would make an excellent pet for the right family it just wasn't when the owners called I had to tell them we could not adopt this dog.  My daughter so very upset as she had really bonded with the dog and Junebug was very good at listening to her (as well as me).  However my son and husband did not bond well with her and the dog did not respond well to their commands.

Taking Junebug to the dog park to socialize with some friends dogs.  She did amazingly well with the other dogs

Firedrake and Junebug bonded very quickly

One of the very few times we caught Junebug sleeping after a
work out 

My daughter and I cried when we gave her back but I had given the owners two phone numbers for people who where specifically looking for a coonhound (they had previously owned them) and hoped she would be adopted quickly by someone who knows how much attention these dogs need.

The next weekend my husband and I took the kids to the humane society to look at dogs and to our shock and horror the very first dog we encountered was poor Junebug!  The dog of course recognized us and howled for our attention.  Seeing the dog there greatly upset the children and I must admit after questioning the staff and discovered that the day we returned the dog to the owners they brought her directly to the humane society without even calling the numbers of people I gave them.  Had I known they were going to do this I would have found the dog a home myself.  Thankfully the humane society is a no kill shelter and will not put the dog down and that was a huge relief to me and my husband and of course the children who wanted to adopt Junebug right away.

 We did take Junebug into a room and played with her and bought her a toy to play with, but ultimately we made the hardest decision as a family to leave Junebug behind and hope that the right family will find her and adopt her.

Part Two -- finding the right dog for our family!


  1. Oi vey! Talk about a heart breaking story! What a horrible situation. It sounds like the previous owners were not very good with her and she was going to need a lot of time to unlearn what they had "taught" her (kind of like when kids need to deschool). Good luck with your new dog! We've had our dog, which is really my daughter's dog, for almost ten years and I swear I am never getting another dog again, ever. I do fine with cats, but this dog was three years old when we got her (I also wanted one that was beyond the puppy stage and partially trained). She had clearly been abused though and has some major weirdness as a result. We never were able to crate train her, despite tons of classes and even some private training sessions. It would be okay if we had a way to prevent her from barking every time anyone gets near our house. This summer, between the neighborhood children and the many delivery trucks that go by every day, her barking had me completely frazzled. We get no warning, so when she suddenly starts barking, it startles all of us. Then it reverberates off the walls and ceilings and I swear, if I didn't know my daughter was taking her with her when she moves out, I don't know what I'd do.

  2. Maureen have you try the stop barking found some at pet smart the other day, it supposed to be very humane as it sprays something in the dogs face and it distracts the fog from barking...thankfully Luna is not much of a barker except on walks when she encounters a strange dog...I am working on that naughty habit;)