This is Bella. Bella is 8 months old, maybe a year. She’s a corgi/terrier mix (they think). She’s a shelter dog. We’ve been fostering her for the last couple of days, wondering if we want a dog, wondering if she could get along with our cats. Tomorrow we have to decide if we want to keep her. This decision is making me sick to my stomach.

I’m a cat person. I have always been a cat person. My eldest son is a dog person. Well, he’s an animal person. But he loves dogs. He’ll often pet dogs while we’re out. This is how we ended up with Bella.

Last Friday while we were out waiting for Toby to get off the ferry, we ran into a dog named Sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is a weiner dog. The boys really wanted to pet him and his walker let them.

Well, we got to talking and found out that Sauerkraut was from Barc. Em asked the walker what that meant and she explained that it was a shelter. I told him that’s where Murray came from and that it’s where homeless animals live. I guess I should have lied or something, because immediately Em wanted to give Sauerkraut a home. He could not FATHOM that this dog was homeless. In order to appease him (Em gets very emotional) I promised to take him to Barc the next morning to see the dog. I also thought it might be a nice learning experience. Why not teach the child about volunteering?

So Saturday we took him to Barc. We talked about fostering Sauerkraut for a couple of days. But while there, we and learned that Sauerkraut doesn’t like cats at all. That’s how we met Bella.

I am not sure why I did this. (Unconsciously, maybe I wanted to see if I wanted a dog?) I wanted to show him how much work dogs are. I wanted to show him how you have to walk them at least three times a day and pick up their poop. Thus far he’s loved every moment of it, even the poop part. He loves caring for the dog. He loves getting up early with me and walking her. He loves taking her out at night.

Yes. I know that if we kept the dog the chances of him continuing this are basically zero. I know all of this. But I also know that he’s loved her companionship and has cried three times over having to return her. And this makes me the worst mother ever. Why did I foster a dog? What is wrong with me? What was I thinking? WHY?

These are rhetorical questions. I don’t want an answer. I know the answers. I wanted to teach my kids about dog ownership and now I’m paying the price. Because we have two choices now and both are extremely difficult: we can keep the dog, which is a great deal of work and I know NOTHING about dogs and how to care for them; or we can return the dog and listen to a VERY emotional Em cry himself to sleep for a week or so. Plus, where will she end up?

Many people have asked us about the cats. Murray is fine with the dog. He’s getting to know Bella better every day. They have spent the night in the same room twice now. No problems at all. Murray was who I was worried most about.

Pookum (she’s 16 or 17) couldn’t care less about the dog and likes to eat Bella’s food. But Tucker? Tucker is mean as hell to her. Hahaha! I can’t believe it’s the cat who’s mean to the dog. But Bella hides and runs from Tucker. He’s definitely Alpha Cat. Tucker does the same thing to Pookum and has since we got him.

Bella is a sweet dog. She’s not at all aggressive and wants to play and run. She sleeps whenever I sleep—all night long on the floor at the foot of our bed. She is fixed. She has all her shots and she’s really great with the boys. She has only peed once while not on a walk and that was on our balcony.

I’m so completely unsure of what to do. A dog is a lot of work, work I know NOTHING (and I mean nothing!) about how to do. I know all of this. I really, truly have thought all that through. I’m ok with work even though I don’t know how to do it yet. But can I be a dog person? Do we want another animal? And if I return her, how will Em handle it? And most importantly, who will adopt her? She’s a great dog. The thought of her going back to a cage kills me. But I am not sure we can handle another animal right now.

I’m dying over here, people. Dying.


  1. Honestly, caring for an 8 month old house trained puppy is as easy as it gets. It’s the perfect stage, assuming teething is done. You still get the awesome puppy benefits with the lessened accidents and basic obedience. And she gets along with the cats? That’s pretty close to ideal.

    It sounds like she’s fitting in well, and if the shelter feels she’s doing well with you, that’s a good sign. If you’re feeling sick over possibly giving her up, that might be a hint that you know what you want. Even if you’re a cat person, there’s no reason you can’t love a puppy, too. Hell, I’m a dog owner who loves cats. You can have it both ways.

    If the cats approve (2 out 3 ain’t bad) and the kids love her, what more could you want?


  2. Not advice, just my experience: I always loved all animals, but stuck with cats because I knew that dogs were a lot of work and I didn’t know if I could take that on.
    Fast forward a few years and my husband and I decided we wanted to adopt a dog. I was nervous about the amount of work, but was happy to have another pet to love. As it turns out, for us anyway, our dog isn’t much more work than our cat is. Yes, she needs to go out on walks, and we can’t just leave her overnight with a bowl of food if we’re going out of town…but our cat is high-maintenance and we couldn’t do that anyway.
    In all other ways, she’s been a breeze, and a welcome addition to our family.

    Of course every situation is different–just thought I’d share how our situation turned out, since I was about nervous about the idea, too.

    Good luck to you and to Bella, no matter what you decide!


  3. We have an older dog and she is not much work at all. (That said, we don’t have two small kids to look after so it’s easy for one of us to walk her.) We walk her in the morning and in the evening. Her walks vary from 15 minutes to an hour depending on how hot or rainy it is outside (she doesn’t care for either) and how much time we have – sometimes she even gets to go swimming or hiking. Her personality and love greatly outweigh the sum total of bags of poop (which, as cat owners and parents, I’m sure you got used to pretty quickly).

    If the dog is well-behaved, she may not be much work for you. Dogs are trainable compared to cats and they listen, though it may take time to develop good habits. Depends. Some dogs can’t be off-leash around other dogs. Some dogs, if taunted, may bite a child. Some pee indoors, some tear up the furniture, some can’t be in the car without barfing. Some will eat the cat food (ours does).

    Traveling is our biggest issue. We love car trips and so does she, but if you have to travel by plane or she doesn’t like the car, you’ll have to have someone dog-sit on site or you would need to board her. As a shelter dog, she may totally dig boarding. Our dog was never boarded while young so now we have to find a sitter to stay at our place or a fellow dog owner whom we know & trust who will take her in if she can’t go with us.


  4. Regarding travel: we have a sitter come twice a day for our high-maintenance cats. So that’s not an issue, really. And the woman who usually comes is a dog walker, that’s how I met her, walking dogs in our building.

    I haven’t driven with her yet, no idea how that would fair. But this dog is so laid back, I can’t imagine her caring about much of anything. It’s weird how laid back she is. I keep waiting for her to become super difficult or weird or whatever. And naturally then I wonder if she’s sick. hahahah!

    She’s just a nice damn dog and so far, I am not seeing all the work. I like walks, and living on the waterfront is really nice. I have actually really enjoyed having to do a late-ish night walk as the views down there at night are stunning. So… no issues there.

    My biggest issue right now is where to put the cat food since the dog eats it on the floor. And how to teach her other stuff, sitting, etc. But that will come IF we keep her.


  5. If you live in an appartment, please don’t get an active dog like a terrier. They need to run and jump in a fenced in yard. We have two older terriers and a much younger pug (pound puppies all). The pug would do well in an appartment. The terriers would not. Too much energy.


  6. It’s said that dogs don’t mature past the point of a 2 year old human. If you can handle that, you can handle a dog.

    We keep our cat food on the cat tower. As far as tricks go, take her to a beginner obedience class.

    If she’s this calm in your home after only a few days, that is probably her personality. One thing to consider, is winter. Would you like the walks so much when it’s 20 below? Not trying to be pessimistic, just pointing out the obvious since that’s a given in your area.


  7. Another voice chiming in to say that once you find a routine with a dog, they’re not much more work than any other pets. The biggest change for Stuart and I was structuring out after-work social life around the dog, since we can’t just go out with friends after work without arranging for someone to walk Nano, and in our case, Nano is such a shy little weirdo that meeting new dog walkers is always a challenge (but not an insurmountable one). That said, what work there is (walking her, feeding her, bathing her) will probably fall to you and Toby. Em obviously can’t promise to continue accompanying you on walks, because he’s what – five? – and isn’t really in the position to make promises about things beyond next week. But it’s possible that you can integrate Em into Bella’s dog walks just as much as you’ve integrated him into, I don’t know, going to the store with you, or helping you with Elliott, and it WILL give him a sense of what responsibility means.

    And, uh, don’t let the shelter hear me tell you this, but we walk Nano twice a day, not three times (sorry, Nano’s bladder). He enjoys long walks but is never destructive at home for lack of an energy-outlet, nor is he overweight. He’s just a small, city-perfect dog who doesn’t need a ton of exercise. If Bella is the same, she would be a happy indoor dog in whatever way works best for your family.

    Stuart really struggled with “getting a dog” because his parents had beaten into him what a “huge responsibility” it was, and would set up small rodents as trial pets, which invariably failed, because who really wants to take care of a gerbil? Sorry, gerbil lovers. As a grownup, he realized two things: 1) his parents didn’t really want to get him and his sister a dog, and they used the “huge responsibility” thing as an excuse, and 2) he was already an adult male with a job, a mortgage, and a wife … he could probably handle “huge responsibilities”. And he would tell you now that adores every single golden hair on Nano’s little head, even though he wasn’t a dog person like I was, rather he was willing to go along with the dog thing because I am a bona fide DOG PERSON and can’t imagine life without a dog by my side.

    None of this is meant to sway you, or make you feel bad if you decide Bella is just one soul too much in your family right now. There are THOUSANDS of people in New York and BARC will help Bella find her forever home if yours isn’t it, I am sure of that, and when she does, she won’t harbor memories of life in a cage while she was waiting for that perfect family – dogs are resilient and live in the moment! (So are kids – Em will be sad but then he’ll get over it, too, and maybe there will be another point down the road where you can make his dog dreams come true.)

    I’m just suggesting that a) if you keep Bella you probably WILL fall in love with her, and that will make you a dog person, these things aren’t hard-and-fast designations, and b) the work is not a blanket designation – easy dogs are easy dogs, and if Bella feels like a good fit, temperament-wise, then she will probably be an easy dog.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!


  8. We put the cat food on a bookshelf that’s out of reach of the dog–of course, that might not work if jumping is difficult for your elderly cat.

    Another thing that has worked really well for us is emphasize the fact that, between the two of them, the cat is the alpha. We always feed the cat first, and if they’re both getting treats we give the cat hers before giving one to the dog. It’s a simple thing, but (with out dog, anyway), it has been really effective in keeping her from taking food from the cat–she’s just learned that it’s not hers to steal.


  9. I see what you mean when you say, “I just don’t see where all the work is” – so, when people say dogs are a lot of work, what they usually mean is puppies because JESUS puppies are a lot of work, OR, they have a working dog/big dog in the city which requires a lot of extra attention and energy, since they’re not naturally inclined to sit around and sleep.

    I could obviously natter on about this all day, so I’ll just say – if you DO decide to keep Bella, feel free to email/call me when you need new-dog-owner advice!


  10. I was going to say that the one of the really big differences between cats an dogs, is that dogs cannot be left alone for long if you travel. If the cat sitter just pops in for 15 miutes to an hour at a time, I still don’t know if that would be enough. People get away with leaving dogs at home while they are at work, but usually they are home with them all night. Of course there is always the option of a sitter, or boarding for vacations. Shots, nail clipping, hair brushing, feeding, poop maintainance, as far as care goes not really too different than a cat.

    The other big difference is that a cat lives in your home, and a dog lives WITH you. By this I mean that the cats will come and go throughout your home, you might not see them for a couple hours or more while they nap etc. But a dog will always be with you, or someone, they are not solitary creatures the way cats are, usually anyhow. One of my dogs will go and find her a comfy spot and nap for a bit, but my other is basically always at your heel. She naps, but if we even flinch she is ready to follow.

    One of my cats hates the dogs, the other doesn’t really care but the dogs LOVE to chase her. I am fortunate enough to have a home that affords them all their own space. With your only problem being an alpha cat, I would say that as long as the dog learn to leave the cat alone when the cat wants to be alone, you’re all good.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about whether or not you can care for the dog, it’s more about the emotion decision and the added responsibility. And you are totally right not to expect the boys to take on that responsibility. Hope they will, and teach them how, but expect that you and your husband will be the primary caregivers.

    I know I could never foster dogs, I would end up on some animal horder show. ;)


  11. The biggest “change” in our lifestyle when we got a dog was needing to get home. At the end of the day, there was no “just stopping for a drink” or “running errands on the way”, etc. There was just getting home to get to the dog who needed to be walked and fed. There was also the whole issue of going away for a weekend and needing to board him (he is a not a “have someone stop by and feed/walk him” type of dog).

    BUT! You already have kids, which we did not. I suspect these types of constraints would be EXTREMELY minor for you by comparison.

    Visits to the dog park or runs on a leash were necessary to keep our puppy well exercised – how does she do on a run with you? I’m guessing she can’t match your mileage, but she might love coming along for a quick lap or two around the block. We have a pug mix (and are slow runners) and as long as the weather wasn’t too hot, he could outrun us easily, and loved it. It’s fun to have a running buddy.

    As a down-to-the-depths-of-her-soul dog person, I can only encourage you to keep her, but obviously I would. As someone who has been inundated with more than $7,000 in vet bills this year between our two 3yr old dogs, I strongly encourage you to consider insurance. Even well behaved dogs get into things.


  12. Sorry, to clearify, I meant I wouldn’t worry too much about whether or not you KNOW HOW to care for the dog. Obviously whether or not you CAN care for the dog is a big deal ;)


  13. I just want to say that I agree with what has been said in most of the other comments. We currently have two cats, but I was raised with four dogs (my parents joke I was raised by dogs). It is all about the routine and training, but it sounds like Bella has a great laid-back personality, so you guys are on a solid path. It is a tough decision, and you do need to do what is best for your family. My heart goes out to you though. I don’t think this is a decision I could make. My husband always jokes that he worries that if he turns his back, I will adopt all the animals I could find (which is why he is hesitant about me volunteering for an animal shelter..).


  14. If you decide to get a dog, Bella or another one, I will inundate you with resources because I totally love and live the dog culture of Brooklyn. Until then, though, I’ll tell you a funny/stupid story or two.

    My first dog, the one previous to this one, was a German Shepherd mix. When she was an adult I was between cats and wound up rescuing a pregnant one. When the kittens were born in my tiny apartment I was careful to impress on Emily that they were not to be fucked with because they were tiny and she was big, not because she was aggressive to them in any way. As a result of my vigilance the cats grew up to rule my poor baby girl. They ate her food and kicked her off the bed and licked the insides of her ears whether she liked it or not. I even have a picture of one of them sitting IN her food bowl eating her food. She’d stand there and look up at me silently, willing me to make it all stop.

    She passed in 2009 and the cats, now without their trained dog, took to attacking every dog who comes into my house. It’s a huge problem. They’ll calm down after a couple of days if the dog is staying over but the first night is a pisser.

    Now that I’ve told you what assholes they were I’ll tell you this. After Emily died I looked back at some pictures of her and the cats. She had an undiagnosed neuro problem that eventually resulted in enough pain for her that I had to decide to let her go. It was possible that she had been having some sort of seizures and she was definitely in some pain for months leading up to her death. In the photos I realized that those cats who had run rough shod over her for years had also groomed her and snuggled with her through her entire illness. They knew she was desperately ill and they didn’t tell me, the close mouthed little bastards.

    I love that picture of Bella and Murray. They’re both amazing animals!


  15. HOLY SHIT, I love you people! Keep the voices coming. You’re helping. (And dad, if you’re reading this, you hush. Mom, you too.)


  16. Funny stories for your mom or dad if they’re reading:

    #1 We had dogs MY WHOLE LIFE because I was this only kid (well, only kid at home) and we moved across continents every other year. So we would get a dog, and when he or she passed away, we would get another one, because I loved dogs so much and always needed a friend who loved me back. (Let’s ignore the fact that we went through five dogs in the first 18 years of my life.) I always assumed my parents loved dogs! When they retired, I said, “you guys should get a dog!” My dad looked at me like I was nuts. “You’re the one who always needed a dog, we had dogs because you loved them. WE don’t love dogs.”

    #2 When Stuart and I were deciding to go looking for the dog who would eventually be our little Nano, my parents kept saying I didn’t have the slightest idea how much work dogs were, because they (or when we lived overseas, the staff) always were the ones REALLY taking care of “my” dogs. Well, then we got Nano, and became the most dedicated dog owners ever, and they both ate their words! We take wonderful care of Nano (again, that whole grownup mortgage job thing?) and my mom admitted that sometimes she forgot that I’m a grownup now, and she’s very proud of our dog parenting. And then my dad would go “now give me real kids, please, this dog isn’t cutting it.”


    1. Haha! Yeah, my parents are NOT happy about this idea. But…. I’m almost 40! Going on 12 because I do still need my mommy in many ways.

      They keep telling me not to get this dog. But! But!


  17. My sister in law nixed a dog because she works 9-5 and has 5 kids. She said she did not have room to take care of one more living thing. Not even a plant.

    I would totally get a dog if I could plan when I would be home. I don’t have kids and no relationship so I am often working or volunteering until crazy hours. I think kids and relationships actually help you have the kind of schedule where you can take care of a dog, especially a mellow one that doesn’t require a 10 mile run every day.

    Someday, when I am retired or can work from home most days, I will have at least one dog. I think dogs make you go out into the world and talk with people and move your body even when you don’t want to, but it’s a good idea. We can learn a lot from what dogs need…

    Good luck with your decision! xo


  18. We had 30 minutes to decide if we wanted to take Henry or not – if we declined, he was going to be offered to someone else.

    Growing up, my family rescued a dog… for all of 2 weeks. He “ran away” and found his original family, or was hit by a car, or was returned by my family. My mother and I fight over enough things, I’m not crazy enough to start this dialog again.

    Lindsey’s dad rescued dogs growing up, so she was familiar with them a bit ( she lived with her mom , so it was only visiting dad ). When she lived in Savannah, she had 3 cats with her ex-husband (all 4 of them are now in nyc) – so she was largely a cat person , while I’m not (deathly allergic). She really wanted a pet and settled on an Italian Greyhound, as they’re cat-like. Henry’s last family knew she got approved by the rescue group and was ready for a dog, so offered him to us first.

    We knew *nothing*. Literally nothing, and it was both amazing and hell taking in a 5month old muppet. From February-June , raising Henry was my full-time job and main focus — I’d do maybe 1-2 meetings a week to advise/consult companies, but raising this guy was my priority and really demanded that much attention. Things started to really mellow out at around 8 months. Since 10 months we’ve been pretty much on auto-pilot. He’s turning a year old in a few weeks, and it’s just crazy thinking about how he’s changed and what he put us through.

    My point on all this though, it that our vet laughs at us, as we have one of the most high-maintenance dogs imaginable. Because of his breeding, he’s prone to a lot of infections in his ears and eyes – so we have a daily grooming time, where I do checkups & trims. At first he hated it, now he realizes that I’m just keeping him healthy. He has really bad seasonal allergies – just like me – so he gets benadryl twice a day. He tends to get car sick too, so we’ll slip him an extra benadryl for the ride.

    You’ve missed the bad stage and the hard work. At 8 months they have control of their bodies and can understand your approval/anger, they really want to please and be part of your pack. Almost every issue left can be conditioned out, and any toilet problems are just a matter of crate training. You’re also at the “OMG I WANT TO PLAY” stage – which means you can focus on having him socialize and play with other dogs ( keeps them happy, also keeps them from barking or snapping) and have a good year or so of still being able to influence her personality.

    If you decide to keep her, I’ll give you a few tips:

    – Our vet is Dr Felton , who is next to BARC / does all their wellness. She’s basically a wellness vet for checkups and general sicknesses. Any surgical needs are referred to a partner vet in Manhattan. Her team is really amazing / supportive though. They answer tons of random questions on the phone all the time, and do daily checkins whenever something is wrong. We run into them on the street all the time, and they’ll stop to play with Henry. Also, unlike many of the other vets , all the prices are listed up front ( though they do pile up ).

    – I think I mentioned on Facebook – the waterfront is off-leash from 9-9. The grass by the ferry landing is where all the neighborhood dogs play around 8-10pm ( they come and go in waves like a flash-mob. if its empty, wait 5 minutes – then you’ll probably see 6 new dogs pop up. ) There are a lot of dogs in the 7-18month age range, and they just love to play like mad.

    – We stay away from the McCarren park dog run on the weekends. There are some really great people there… but too many folks who just got a dog, didn’t really train it, and mentally check-out to use their phones when there. A lot of dogs play way too aggressively there, and their owners won’t step up to stop the biting, barking, humping. We drive to the McGolrick park dog run instead – every single dog there is an absolute sweetheart, and the owners are overwhelmingly amazing.

    If you keep her and have any questions, please feel free to ask. Henry would love to play with her.


  19. I forgot to mention- it goes without saying that Henry is my best friend and more like a child than a pet. That connection / bond is something that Lindsey noticed in comparison to her cats too.

    It doesn’t happen to everyone, and isn’t reflective of the people or dog. It’s just really lucky when it happens.


  20. Hey! Commenting over here is easier!

    I’m sure you’ve decided by now, and IF you decided to let her go, I hope you see what a great decision that is. I think it’s better to let Em hurt for a small bit, than to be miserable and resentful of a dog. Also, I know how terrifying it is to imagine what will happen if you don’t adopt Bella, but better for her to have an opportunity with someone else.

    If you adopted her…..equally great!

    I’ve got a couple responses of my own experience.

    1.) Terriers in crates/apartments.

    I live in an apartment. All my kids are terrier/schnauzer mixes. They’re fucking insane. Years One and Two were intense. Mellowed at Three. Walks are your friends, as are interactive toys. You’ve got a smart lil girl their, but your observations on her chillness make me envious.

    2.) El Gatos.

    My Scully passed away two years ago, but the dogs were scared shitless of her. This was mostly because half the time she would be lovely and nose touch and walk away, and half the time she would nose touch, and beat the shit out of them. You don’t have a hunting dog, so Bella should be fine around them. The kitties will ignore/terrorise her at their leisure.

    Kitty boxes/ cat food:
    Top entry cat boxes are best, but there are also cool furniture options with holes too small for Bella to enter. If you haven’t encountered this yet, cat poo is crack for dogs. I have cat sized dogs who can jump like cats, but eventually, with training, they’ve left food/poo alone. We also use a baby gate to keep one room private for just the kitties.

    Toys: Kongs, tennis balls, Nyla bones.
    Dog Parks are the most amazing thing ever. Choose smaller rawhide bones as treats, they can lead to loose bowels. No tomatoes, grapes or avocados. Dogs reaction to celery sticks is priceless. Yogurt and pumpkin soothe upset bellies. Natures Miracle. Wonder Dog Walkers make the best harnesses. You’ll probably want a furminater to help with shedding. I crate trained my kids. Only one is in there when I’m at work, but all four will go in there occasionally. Basically, make sure she has her own spot, a bed or crate that can be Her Place.

    That’s all I’ve got for now, but seriously, best of luck, and as someone who’s parents went though crazy experiments with dogs, thank you for being so deliberate. If Em’s a dog person, he’ll always be dog person. Our first dog was awful, and I hated how much my mom hated her. We finally met the right dog for us, raised him all wrong, and he lived to be 19. It’s all about personality, and the entire family being open and ready for whatever happens, and again, I believe there is no shame in returning/not adopting a dog. It’s best for all parties if everyone is committed.


  21. @jonathan Hah! My mom’s dog is named Henry, too! He’s sort of my pervy little brother, but he’s beyond awesome. My mom definatly has the pet/more of a son relationship with him. I have the same with my boy Ollie.

    I love how you pointed out the diffences in dog parks, the people really do make the expreience. We have a great park with a lake (watching puppies swim is so beyond awesome) but we still get asshole dogs sometimes.

    It’s usually all down to the owner, and I find that when it’s my dog who’s being an asshole (he’s small and a jerk sometimes, and she has serious people/dog issues so I only take her early am and she’s always on a leash) an apology and explanation go along way. We’ve all trained our dogs, and all decent people understand having a previously traumatized dog. Awesome dog park people are usually awesome people all around.


  22. Little to add to everything that has been said. One addition on the activity-level the dog needs: a lot of dogs love to go for a run. Bonus is, they keep other dogs away during the run (no more holes in your tights and ‘he never does that’…) and I find running with my dog makes me feel more safe.


  23. Question for you dog people: Do dogs get depressed? I ask because Bella has run into her mother twice since we’ve had her. Backstory here: her mom is also at shelter. Her mom was once very loving and is now mean to her. They were laughing when they told us that her mother beats her up now. (She’s done, apparently, wants Bella to move on but Bella isn’t interested in moving on.) Anyway, we’ve run into her mom (as well as other Barc dogs) while out walking and each time her mom acts either mean to her or totally ambivalent. Yesterday, as her mom’s walkers walked her away, Bella sat there and CRIED. It was heartbreaking. Em started crying. What a mess that was. And then last night she just acted really, really sad. She didn’t much feel like being petted or played with and just moped all evening.

    This morning, she’s back to her usual self, playing with Em. But I am wondering, do dogs get sad?

    Toby suggested she’s a little heartbroken as she only ever knew the shelter and her friends are there. When I said, “Yeah, but hopefully not for long! They’ll be adopted and she’ll be left there!” He reminded me that she doesn’t know that. Is she heartbroken? Will she get over it? What is the deal?

    Dogs confuse me so much. haha


  24. The bug gets upset when I’m upset. You can see the strain in her face; sometimes she jumps on me. That’s the only time she ever jumps on a person.

    Adam’s parents’ dog cried when Adam’s father died, for the first couple of days. She knew someone was missing and that the commotion was bad commotion.


  25. It may not be the same as our psychology, but dogs seem to (and must) have a mental spectrum that isn’t all basic wants and needs. So I say yes they do get “depressed”. But they also seem exceedingly capable of shaking things off (quite literally). Our pup Molly will seem to be in funks or anxious or scared but she can pop out of those moods and into full on boisterous play mode in seconds. I think that only prolonged unbroken moods would be something to worry about and would probably signal some greater health issue.

    That’s my two-cents as a new first-time dog friend anyway.


  26. Also, sounds like she’ll love a dog park. There are always politics and people who don’t have control over their dogs, but it’ll make her very happy to run around, play, and make new friends. It’s also a great way for people to make new friends.


  27. I know my dog definitely gets depressed. This usually happened when we go out of town and leave her with friends or with a dogsitter. They are all totally wonderful to her and treat her just as we would, but she misses us and gets very, very mopey. Also, my husband is military, and when he’s left on deployments she gets really sad for a few days when she realizes he isn’t coming back. Of course, she comes back around, but I notice her looking for him.

    That is heartbreaking about Bella’s mom! I know it’s harder to separate them if they’ve spent a lot of time together. But I’m sure Bella will be fine over time.


  28. Thanks guys. Yeah, when we’re out walking, Bella wants to socialize with every dog we see. Some folks are a bit standoffish (the walkers) and don’t want to stop to let them do their thing and I always feel bad for her. Hahaha! One minute her tail is wagging and the next she’s like. “Oh, you don’t want to talk to me? That sucks.”

    A dog park might be nice. However, I have seen so many fights break out between dogs at them, it makes me super nervous to bring her. What if she gets attacked?

    I am way over thinking this, I bet.


  29. My ex’s cat, Polly Jean, cried for about 3 weeks straight after being separated from her siblings when we adopted her as a kitten. I cried too.

    I have a feeling that Bella would be going through this separation thing with her mom no matter what. That’s what parents are supposed to do; not encourage the attachment when the offspring needs to grow and individuate. It’s just that the other mammals are a lot more cut and dry about it. It’s hard for us humans because we break all those rules.

    Have you decided whether you will foster or keep Bella?


  30. Sheryl: still undecided but leaning toward keeping.


  31. Dogs go through the same emotional traumas as humans. They can sometimes get depressed or mad, or even pissed. ( or all at once, which was Henry for a week after we we got him neutered. Oh, he knew what we did. ) “They” even make a version of prozac for dogs with these – and many other – problems.

    One of the worst mental problems for dogs is separation anxiety. That’s what causes them to cry at night if you’re not in the room, and often is why they’ll trash the house while you’re away — they’re scared you’re not coming back and will abandon them.

    Bella’s alpha is her mom and her pack are the BARC dogs. If you keep her… the more time you spend with her, the more she’ll begin to treat you / Toby / the boys as her pack and her alphas. She’ll gradually start to become ambivalent to the other dogs and her mom.

    Two dogs greeting during a dogwalk is a complicated subject. Some folks have mean dogs and know it – so they try to avoid a conflict. Other people are in a rush. Many people know their dog will try to jump/play on leash ( a big no-no, it gets out of control fast ) and are hard to keep to a “quick hello” ( the golden ideal ) – so they try to minimize contact. And a lot of people just give in to their dogs wanting to make a new friend.

    Henry lays down on the ground for every new dog he sees, trying to trick them into a “oh, he’s a nice dog” trap… then tries to playfully pounce on them. It’s very cute, but with every dog… a 2 block walk can take 20minutes.

    As far as dog parks… You absolutely need to go, so she learns how to socialize well with other dogs and doesn’t develop any personality issues. Try the ferry landing at 9 or 10pm, lots of sweet playful dogs there. You can leave her on leash to play at first. Don’t go to McCarren on the weekends , go to McGolrick. Weekdays are fine at both.

    Dog fights tend to break out between 2 mean dogs. If one of them is sweet, they’ll usually run away. Your choice in parks affects the likelihood of a mean dog, and how fast the owner will respond. Having her meet a mean dog every now and then is good though – she needs to learn that not every dog is a sweetheart.


  32. When you meet other dogs on the street and Bella wants to meet them you also have to consider that you don’t know anything about the other dog. If the person walking the other dog balks they have a reason. It might be that they’re a killjoy who hates doggie fun but it’s more likely that there’s a behavior or liability issue or even that the dog is being trained to approach dogs politely. Nothing will turn off an experienced dog owner more than being accosted by a dog and owner bellowing, “MY DOG’S FRIENDLY!” when they have a legit reason to be reining their dog in.

    Don’t worry about The Bells. She’ll get her socialization in. You’ll meet plenty of friendly folk.

    She will get into fights in the park. We live in a high population density area. People pop off at each other in the subway. Dogs do it in the dog run. You’ll take her for some training, ask some great questions, and learn how to make the most of the experience. 99 times out of 100 the little scuffles are nothing, more like motorists giving each other the finger or big kids keeping little kids in line on the playground. You’ll learn to recognize the signs and the bad news owners or dogs (usually owners).

    IF you keep the dog. It’s still up in the air. I get that.


  33. Ok, I want to elaborate on the “2 mean dogs” theory. While that’s a possibility it’s not the only one and, in my experience, not the most common one. Some pairs of dogs just don’t get along. I don’t get along with all the people in the dog park (or anywhere else) but I have all my words to use and usually I can be polite about it or avoid them. One’s dog should be expected to be polite to everyone, or at least to avoid the ones s/he hates, but sometimes accidental meetings happen and a scuffle can crop up. Just because a dog (even one’s own dog) gets uppity with certain other “kids on the playground” s/he’s not necessarily a mean dog.

    Dog park politics, man, as heated as playground politics but on the playground no one ever has to hand over a check for vet bills. :)


  34. Oh, I know about the other dog situation. I can tell when people have dogs that aren’t kind. Most of the time (around here at least) they tell me right away. It’s the folks who are in a hurry or just too cool for school. hahaha! That’s who I was referring to.

    I’ve seen bloody brawls at dog parks. And I don’t frequent them! It’s often the McCarren one Jon mentions above. I will avoid it. Too many fights have broken out there for my liking.

    But we’ll find some nice ones. I am sure. This area and building is SUPER dog friendly, so it’ll happen.

    And, yeah. We’re keeping her.


  35. The fight I saw, the biggest one where the smaller dog (a pug-like dog) was bloody, was between two nice dogs. The other dog was a small dog as well and its owner was heartbroken and told the woman he’d never seen his dog act this way. He offered to pay for the vet, etc. He was equally as shocked as everyone around him. I actually felt REALLY bad for the guy because everyone immediately wanted to hate him and his dog.

    It just seemed like they didn’t get along.


  36. You’re keeping her! Yay! I bet Em is thrilled.


  37. Great news! Congratulations on your new family member. :)


  38. Hurray for keeping her! Tell me when you’re ready for all the assvice in the doggie universe! :)


  39. I’m ready!

    A few questions to get you started:

    How often can I bathe her?

    How much should she be eating?

    How do I make sure she’s housebroken? She seems to be already, but I want to make sure. Also: how does one do this?

    What should I do with her whenever I go out and don’t take her along? Is it OK to lock her in our bedroom?

    How do I teach her to stay away from the litterbox? She seems to be learning this already and listens when I say “no!” but I want to make sure.

    How often do I need to have her nails clipped?


  40. I wouldn’t bathe her more than once a month unless she comes home filthy from the dog park.

    Pick a good quality food and go with their recommendation for her weight on serving size, at least at first. I find that my dogs actually need quite a bit less than what’s recommended (they started to chub up a little!), so we cut back from there.

    If she hasn’t had an accident yet, I’m going to say she’s housebroken. Just try to be consistent with the timing of walks and pay attention to her signals that she may need an extra one – sitting by the door, etc.

    It’s totally okay to keep her in your bedroom while you’re out – especially as a puppy, you don’t want her getting frisky with the cats while you’re not there. Just puppy-proof as best you can. It’s for her own safety. We kept our first puppy in a pen while we were out until he figured out how to climb out (and tore open an entire bag of cotton balls).

    Re: the litterbox – a strong “no” should do it, especially if she’s already listening. If she gets adventurous, shaking a can of pennies is a good alternative.

    Re: nails – When we lived in NY, I pretty much never had to clip the dog’s nails. The sidewalks were the best nail files we could ask for. Now that we’re in the burbs, I have to do it once every few weeks – basically when they get especially “clacky” on the floors.

    SQUEEEEEEEE! You got a dog!


  41. You should get yourself at least one check in kind of training session so you know how to approach reading her signals and responding to them especially when you’re working to shape her behavior. I LOVE Rikke Brogaard I’ve also worked a little on specialty stuff with Sara at She has group classes so you could go with that if you wanted as well. I really enjoy the training and find that tiring the mind is at least as important as tiring the body. A trainer can talk to you about the house training, it’s an important and complex issue and you want to get it right.

    Crate training, keeping her in one room, or letting her roam free are all viable options when you leave your dog alone. Again, it’s a good thing to talk to a trainer about. My dog is free but I close the door to the bathroom. He is way too vocal when he’s crated, he can leap over a baby gate, and he’s prone to eating bathroom garbage. We compromised.

    Litterbox, yeah, trainer, ’cause shaking pennies and saying no are exactly right for when you’re there but you want to learn about timing and consistency so that you’re getting the message across for when you’re not there, too. She’s part terrier, the terrier part is likely to capitalize on one’s weaknesses. I’ve learned that the hard way.

    Nail clipping depends on the dog. If they walk forward on their feet everything wears down on the pavement. Some dogs rock back and need clipping. It’s not like clipping a cat’s nails, though. If you miss it bleeds like a freaking fountain, a real, terrifying mess, even though it’s not necessarily dangerous. It is painful for the dog if you miss, though, so it can be hard to get back in there to solve the problem. It’s the one thing I really prefer to have a professional do for my dogs.

    For the best food and nutrition advice in the whole wide world you can talk to a guy named Phil. He’s one of the owners of Whiskers on 2nd Ave and 9th Street in Manhattan and he’s a marvel. You don’t need his advice, you can find out what and how much she was fed at the shelter and go with that but if her nutrition or digestion becomes an issue he’s your guy.

    Confession: I almost never bathe my dog. That’s what rain is for. Unless there’s a real smell or dermatological issue it isn’t vital for me and mine. Your mileage may vary. Too much bathing can be tough on the skin, though.

    The one thing you must, must, MUST do right now? Snuggle your dog. YOUR dog. WHOOO!!!


  42. I know I”m a little late to this discussion, but Congratulations! She’s really cute. I love her big ears. I haven’t owned a dog since my teen years, my hubby and I are cat people. But we always had black labs and cats in our house when I was growing up. The cats ALWAYS ruled over the dogs. WE had one rather large dog who would go way out of her way to avoid the cats when walking through a room. It was hysterical. Good luck with her. I’m sure you’ll do fine.


  43. Oh, congrats! She sounds like a really special little dog. We are dog people who are currently cat-sitting and man, does my almost 2-year-old love that cat (who has zero interest in her). My almost 5-year-old lost interest after a day or two, but the 2-year-old’s got her whole routine down, loves every minute of taking care of this cat. It’s fun to see!


  44. Yay!! I just got a new puppy and I’m loving it! After 5 years as a cat person and nearly 20 years since I’ve had a dig I was a bit worried but it’s working out well.

    Something we’ve been doing that might help is saying ‘leave it’ instead of no when he goes near something we don’t want him touching/eating/licking/biting. It has worked for a dead rabbit in the park, food held in my nephews hand and most of the time the cats :) We leave no for when he is actually in danger.

    Our dog is also a bit bigger (staffy shepherd cross) and we put him in our yard (with access to the laundry) while we go to work. This means he gets a bit grubby by the end of the week so he gets a shower on Friday night and then he’s allowed up on the sofa for snuggles. I also give him a clean blanket in his bed on Friday nights. His bed moves from the laundry to beside our bed at night.

    Oh, when I say shower that’s exactly what happens, you open the shower door, turn on the water and he runs in from wherever he is to get in!! He loves it! And if you don’t let him in he sits and waits for you to get out so he can lick the water off the floor! Gross!

    we also feed our boy a fresh meat diet which might not work for your family but it’s best to get the most natural food possible as the cereal/filler in processed food makes their poop smellier and a bit more loose.


  45. Congrats on the puppy! I’ve never kept my dog locked away when I’m gone; but he was almost one when I got him. Definitely know you can do a quick bath with baby wipes when they get grungy. I used to keep a towel by the door for rainy days; but my current dog knows to go right into the bathroom where I’ll rub him down and even blowdry him (he’s weird, he loves that) so that we don’t have wet dog in the house.


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