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Return to Dog [PART 1]

DV SpookyCat      Tuesday, March 12, 2019

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     If you have followed my story from over at DV Radio Thoughts, I’ve been documenting my experiences after suddenly losing my service dog. It’s been three weeks since I lost him. I’m more certain than ever that I *NEED* a service dog. The chest pains and panic have subsided to a mild background noise most of the time. I’m not saying his name on accident when calling for my kids. I did pick up his ashes yesterday. He’s on the shelf with my other dog and my dad’s shadow box. It’s the most protected and venerated spot we have. So, I guess that’s that.
     A couple days ago, I read PTSDog’s piece about his criteria and needs for a service dog, so I thought I’d talk about the considerations that went into picking mine and what I’ll be looking for, moving forward. I’ll do this in two parts, last dog, next dog.
Last dog:
     I was fairly sedentary with occasional exercise. So, I wanted a lazy dog that would be content as a bed bug but could handle moderate exercise when the mood struck. I also wanted a dog that could operate lights, open doors, and be big and imposing enough to keep people at arm’s length. I also knew, from experience, that anything bigger than 65 pounds would be too big for me to carry myself, in the event of an injury or emergency.
     So, my criteria were: lazy, under 65 pounds, kinda smart, and intimidating. If you hadn’t guessed, I wanted a pit bull. I got one and he was EVERYTHING I wanted except intimidating. He NEVER looked happy or welcoming, but it was still a struggle to keep people away from us. The benefits here were that my wait for a dog (via TADSAW) was days and not weeks or months, he learned very fast, and was every bit as dedicated to napping as he was to me. It was awesome. There are no regrets there.
     To that end, my activity levels skyrocketed when I got him. He was much lazier than the new me. He was also not nearly as adventurous. He was solid in the city, but when we got on a trail, he turned into the biggest baby you could imagine. I guess he had a bout with Jason Vorhees in a previous life? I don’t know. Also, with high activity and having a focal point to distract me from so many of my peccadillos, I really didn’t need him opening doors and operating stuff.
This brings us to my criteria for the next dog:
     Now that I know I’m capable of hiking twenty miles a week and operating my own doors, I’m less married to a bigger dog. Having grumpalumpikis didn’t deter people from talking to me, so I know it won’t matter if the dog is cute or intimidating. Borrowing/modifying a phrase from PTSDog, “Humans are gonna human”. I also had no idea I’d be doing Search and Rescue full time, so I’m inclined to go even smaller, so he’ll be comfortable living in my van with me. Most of his tasks will be light carries and fetching, as well as pressure and alerts.
     My new criteria are: hearty, brave, smart, 20-30 pounds, less shedding, active. When I tried a couple different breed test things (AKC and Animal Planet) and they universally suggested Schnauzers and King Charles Spaniels. Eight more minutes of research eliminated spaniels thanks to heart problems and short life spans. Now, is where I run into trouble. I don’t like puppies. BUT, I’ve been looking at rescues and have found that so many of the Schnauzers looking for homes are not house broken, have serious behavioral issues, and the rescues have very limiting adoption criteria, namely geography. I could do a whole piece, just on how ridiculous the criteria for adoption are.
     So, while I am holding a schnauzer to be the ideal, I’m going to keep meeting dogs and evaluating them. I’m also going to keep in touch with responsible breeders (that OFA and health test their dogs), in the event one has a good candidate (or two) get dropped from the show path or returned from buyers. Tune in for part II of “Returning to Dog”, I’ll be covering my evaluation process and talking about the emotional aspects of meeting potential partners.
Article written by: DV SpookyCat; She doesn't purr but she will tell you if you're an asshole.

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