Life was unsettled when we first arrived in Perth and it took us a while to finally get around to choosing a dog. We talked about it endlessly, debating what size and kind of dog would be most appropriate when we finally got one, how much walking and grooming would be involved and who would take the dog to training. We had previously had Labrador Retrievers, a small mixed-breed (possibly Miniature Pinscher/Terrier mix), a German Shepherd, and a large mixed-breed (possibly Mastiff/Rottweiler).
This time around we wanted a medium-sized dog, about the size of a Beagle. After heaps of research, a friend suggested that we go with her to a dog show. There we’d see a whole range of different dogs in action and be able to compare them. This was a great idea, since that’s where we found and fell in love with Honey – a Welsh Springer Spaniel. It turns out that these are fabulous dogs: not too big, cheerful, good-natured, reasonably smart and very playful. She fitted right in from the start.
A year or two later we happened to watch the pilot episode of a TV series called Dharma & Greg. In this, Dharma explains to Greg that her second dog (Nunzio) been her ‘bar mitzvah’ gift to her first dog (Stinky). For some reason, this amused me no end. From then on we bandied about the idea of getting a second dog, a ‘bar mitzvah’ gift for Honey. Sadly we dithered for too long and she never did get her Nunzio. She died after twelve years of being an integral part of our family, leaving an enormous gap in our lives.
When we finally decided to get another dog, we turned to the list of what are widely considered to be the 10 smartest dog breeds for some guidance. The list was rapidly whittled down, as follows: Border Collie – too crazy active, Poodle – too woolly and poncey for me, German Shepherd – love them, Golden Retriever – too hairy, Dobermann – well, the neighbour had one and it was kinda nice…, Sheltie – too small and barky, Labrador Retrieve – love them, but… health issues, Papillon – too small and floofy, Rottweiler – too big, Australian Cattle Dog – tend to become barrel-shaped. The choice seemed pretty straightforward.
Several years and two German Shepherds later, we know better. Both our Australian GSD’s were beautiful dogs, bright and responsive – but they also both died from inherited autoimmune related conditions. This effectively removed them from our rather short short-list for future additions to the family. We now share our lives with a young Dobermann – and the whole issue of whether to get her her very own Nunzio is pretty much a daily conversation. As it happens, this Saturday is National Pet Adoption Day – and the temptation to just get out there and pick out a companion dog for her is huge…
But this is a forever-decision – or at least one for about the next 10 years – so it’s important to get it right. We – and anyone else thinking about getting a pet – need to consider a number of factors, such as what size pet is appropriate, cost (purchase price, food, equipment, inoculations, kennelling if you go on holiday, etc.), whether to get a male or a female, how much space is available and whether said pet will live inside or outside. Then there’s the issue of how much time can be made available to devote to the pet, who will take responsibility for cleaning up behind it and who’ll do the training.
Having worked through all that, we know we don’t want another big dog… that it does need to be energetic, friendly and happy… and there we’ve stalled out. So this weekend we’ll be visiting some likely candidates… and perhaps one of them will turn out to our Nunzio. Or perhaps it will be like Honey – a surprise choice on the day that turns out to be perfect.