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Surprisingly, Two Dogs Aren’t Twice The Work!

From the time I was five until forty years old, I had one dog at a time. Things changed when my beloved Golden Retriever, B.J., was dying of kidney failure. I had just met, Glenn, the man with whom I was destined to spend the rest of my life, when my best canine friend became ill. A trusted friend called me and said she had found a loving stray retriever mix who could use a good home. Glenn and I discussed bringing home a friend for B.J. to watch over her when we were at work. Bogey turned out to be a wonderful addition to our family and cared for our girl when we couldn’t. We even witnessed a positive change in B.J.’s behavior because of Bogey’s attention. When B.J. passed, Bogey seemed more anxious because he no longer had a purpose. Thus, the tradition began. Glenn and I have been married for twenty-one years, and we have always had two dogs.

Dogs are pack animals. Humans are special companions for our canine friends, but most humans spend half of their waking time at work. Solo dogs are often left to pace in yards and dig at fences due to loneliness and boredom. In the worst case scenario, some people don’t even bring their lonely pup in the house when they do get home. Ask any vet about the resultant abnormal behaviors when a dog is lonely or largely ignored. If two dogs are left in a yard, they spend much of their time playing and napping together. Their instinct to travel in a pack is satiated so that nervous digging and destroying behaviors are lessened. Imagine how you would feel if you were left in a yard by yourself all day?

An older dog can raise a puppy. We got our Golden Retriever/Lab mix, Brindey, as a twelve-week-old puppy. Other than the initial puppy care of putting her on a feeding/play schedule and crating her a night, our older Border Collie/Golden mix, Benny, took over her care during the day when we worked. We had a large, shaded yard with a doggy door into the garage for inclement weather. We felt confident leaving our puppy home alone with Benny because Benny kept his eyes on her at all times. We would often watch him play with her and scold her for things she shouldn’t do, like jumping up on the screen door. Brindey adored Benny and followed him everywhere. We even put them in the garage to sleep together because she hated being in a crate away from Benny’s side. Within a month, Brindey was totally trained to the rules of the house.

A pair of dogs are less needy. Sadly, Benny recently passed over the Rainbow Bridge at fourteen years old, leaving Brindey to go it alone. We gave her constant love and attention to get her over the loss. However, she became a different dog. She didn’t want us to leave her side; she followed me every time I stood up to go in an adjacent room; and, she hated going outside. A month ago, we brought home, Bobby, an eleven-week old German Shepherd mix, to give Brindey new purpose. Other than being tired from outside puppy care, she has lost her separation anxiety. She seems much calmer in the home and seems to enjoy raising Bobby. I’d like to think she remembers when Benny cared for her.

Two dogs are better security. Brindey has proven to be a great watch dog. We live on a greenbelt so she has her radar fixed on every living thing that doesn’t belong in the yard. She is teaching Bobby when to bark and how to detect danger. When we had Brindey and Benny at our previous home, neighbors told us that they wouldn’t dare go into our yard unless the dogs were put in the house. Glenn and I always had a sense of security when we left them to watch our home. Also, coyotes from the greenbelt don’t usually try to hunt two large dogs, even if they could scale the fence. (By the way, if you have small pets, keep them inside at night and always in your view if you live near coyote and large cat habitats.) Two dogs are more imposing and they have each other for support when left alone to guard the house.

Two dogs are not that much more expensive. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Two dogs are twice the expense.” Believe me, I know that mantra. However, we buy discount care packages at local vet clinics such as Banfield’s in the Pet Smart stores. For one lump sum a year, and fairly reasonable, it is possible to get good vet care at a fraction of the cost. Mixed breeds are less susceptible to health issues because they are not in-bred by breeders. Other than usual vaccinations and check-ups, our rescue dogs have been very healthy; and, all of our dogs have lived until at least fourteen years old. The most important point of this article is that you are committed to giving your pets a full life of care, love and attention. Obviously, if you are in no position to give your best, then no dogs are better than two.

by Jeaninne Escallier Kato