We are approaching the first anniversary of the adoption of our second dog, Nellie, which has given me pause to reflect on our year with her and all the adjustments associated with getting a second dog. Despite our initial trepidation about getting #2, most especially how her presence would impact our very needy and attention hungry Bosworth, we are so lucky to have Nellie as part of our family. And, in the end, I think it’s Bosworth who is most happy to have her around; this fact alone makes finding Nellie a blessing.
Paul and I always pondered getting a second dog from the day we rescued Bosworth. Truthfully, the idea of bringing home another canine kid came from the fact that we quickly fell in love with Bosworth and wanted him to live forever. We thought a younger, spunky companion might help keep him young. Ok, ok, so Boz wasn’t exactly ancient when we rescued him….he was a mere 3 years old. But still!
See, when I was little, I witnessed my somewhat aging Lab, Indy, revived and revitalized by his younger sibling, Libby. The beginnings of their relationship was not what we expected; there was some avoidance, lots of indifference and as cute as Libby was, I worried that Indy thought we were replacing him. But eventually, the spunky Libby won her big bro over and added years to his life. The two pups would lay together, bodies intertwined, as Libby would nuzzle up next to him and Indy would rest his muzzle on her little body. There is definitely something to be said for the healthy affects companionship can have on a dog. And I wanted this for Bosworth.
But, nothing is that easy. Here’s the thing. Boz is quite needy. He loves affection and being doted on (you would honestly think he’s human, given how much he loves his 22lb self to be carried everywhere…. I’ve often been asked if we should invest in a baby bjorn for him). So, the question became: would sharing affection with a sibling make him happier or absolutely miserable? It could go either way. While a sibling positively affected Indy, how would it affect Bosworth? Unsure, but interested, we started looking for a companion….casually….and decided that IF we found the right one, we would know.
During our search, we were told that some dogs are actually happier and healthier being the only dog in the household and ruining this dynamic could be stressful for the #1 dog. Oh, Boy. Great. That was all I needed to hear. I was absolutely convinced that Boz was happier getting every ounce of love and affection from Paul and myself. He would despise a sibling. The search ended.
But things changed a couple years later when one of our clients emailed me a photo of Nellie. A 10lb female Rattie, a supermodel as the Shelter called her, Nellie was up for adoption at the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Because she was so close, we figured we’d just go meet her. What was the harm? If nothing else, Boz would have fun (or not!) playing with a new pal for the afternoon. We loved her and Boz played with her. While Boz was a bit aloof towards her, we knew him well enough to know that he secretly loved being followed around. They had a special something. A connection. They pounced and played for a long time. It was decision time.
A couple days later, we concluded that Nellie was The One. The deciding factor was that Bosworth doesn’t often play with other dogs, but he played with Nellie. Although happy to walk alongside doggie pals, Boz is kind of a loner and pretty picky about who he engages in playtime. So, given that Boz and Nellie seemed to have the beginnings of a playful friendship, we took a chance and brought the supermodel home.
As with a lot of rescues, Nellie has plenty of issues (fear of people, loud noises, her toys and chews being stolen) all of which we work on every day. But, she absolutely lives for her brother and her doggie pals and is the queen of making doggie friends. What’s even better is that Bosworth adores her right back. It took many months to sort out who was boss but now they play constantly. They lick each other, sleep on top of one another and Boz is the Boss (which he finds totally cool…and Nellie is quite happy having a brother to look up to and follow around). They are a team. They respect and love and play with one another. They are better dogs for having each other.
We must thank the Center for Shelter Dogs at The Animal Rescue League of Boston and to Dr. Sheila D’Arpino, Behaviorist Extraordinaire! And we owe a HUGE thank you to our very special clients and friends, Monica and Justin Roy (and their Tuckered Mutts, Maia and Charlie) because without them, this adoption wouldn’t have happened. Thank you for sending us that first picture of our Nellie and bringing Boz a lifelong companion and playmate.
While you will never know how your #1 dog will fair when introducing a second dog, my vote is to give it a shot. Test it out. Because even though it may not work out, the mere chance of having dogs as happy as mine are makes the risk worth it.