For many of us, finding the ideal dog is a complicated undertaking. How active? Good with children? Good watch dog? Professionally bred, or rescued from a shelter?
But there are other, less tangible aspects of the selection process that, while equally important, are rarely discussed. Here are some tips that will enable you to make the best decision possible for yourself and your family.
1. Choose a dog that’s good. While there’s something appealing about being able to shout “Bad dog!” and the occaional “Medium dog!”, the novelty quickly wears off. Trust me, long term, you’re better off with good. If you cannot find a good dog, try to get one that’s special. If you’re fortunate enough to locate good and special in the very same animal–bingo. Avoid regular at all costs, and steer clear of icky.
2. Make sure the dog can read a contract. Our miniature poodle, a rescue, turned out to have trouble with fine print, and quickly wound up in breach of the no-vomit clause. By the time we discovered the evidence, he’d lawyered up, and we had zero recourse.
3. If faced with a choice between inspiring and useless, choose inspiring. Our dog, for example, has a serious case of Disappearing Elbow Condition, an affliction that causes his front legs to jut out horizontally in front of him whenever he’s lifted by the armpits, giving him an alarming resemblance to Frankenstein’s monster or a sleepwalker in a cartoon. And yet, despite his DEC, this poodle has managed to live a full and productive life, serving as a beacon of hope for many. Truly, we couldn’t be more proud.
4. Choose a dog that’s physically unable to roll its eyes. This will come in handy whenever you exclaim, “You’re so cute today! How’d you get so cute?” You do not want an animal that will respond to a rhetorical question with a reproach, such as “If I’m so cute, why the wholly inadequate supply of treats around here?”
5. And finally, since your pet’s temperament will affect your outlook on life, get a dog that’s an optimist. If a guest at the dinner table drops her earring, you want the kind of animal that will lunge for it, saying to himself, “You never know when a lovely piece of jewelry should happen to be made out of chicken.”
Published in the Piedmont Post September 2, 2009