Lilly, enjoys car rides in the front seat on a sleeping bag.
Please note: Any resemblance to ‘Andy Warhol Art’ is purely tragic.
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As a species we have a desire for familiarity and sameness. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s fine when that familiarity means ordering fast food on another continent or a trip down memory lane when we hear a certain song. However, it’s a different thing when we expect our future pets to be clones of our last pets (Unless cloning is your thing).
Recently I overheard a conversation of two women discussing a friend’s search for another dog. It was obvious the friend’s beloved dog had gone to what pet lovers term ‘Rainbow Bridge’. One said to the other, “They want to get a dog just like the last dog so they’re going to the same breeder and hopefully…” Just then the conversation drifted out of my ears’ reach.
“Get one just like the last one”; That is the phrase that stuck with me. We don’t say this about ex-lovers, just our dogs. In fact we hope that next fish is the total opposite of that idiot we previously dated. We love the familiar (and the new, once it is familiar). We are creatures of habit. In my cuisine experience, this means I almost always order enchiladas when I get Mexican food. When it comes to dogs, some people get hooked on a certain breed of dog. You know the parents that ‘Have always had Springer Spaniels’. We put bumper stickers on our cars (especially Subaru owners), that tell the world our type of dog is the best. It’s a Eureka! moment. “Chihuahuas Rule”. “Border Collies Rule”. “Labrador’s Rule”. Okay, I love Australian Cattle Dogs and English Mastiffs. There I said it. We also now praise mutts, with” They’re one of a kind” sentiments. This is the truth of every dog, mutts and ‘pure-breds’ alike.
I ended up with a very cool (neurotic) eighty pound mutt (healthy as ever with his mutt genetics) and pushing age twelve this year. He has never been anything like the bomb proof golden retriever I had before.
Once while walking dogs at my local Humane Society, a woman approached me through the fence facing the parking lot. She asked me, “Do you have any small, male dogs available or adoption?”. She then held up her small Sihi-tzu girl dog. “I’m looking for a male dog to breed with her so she can have puppies just like her”. The woman went on, “I want her to have puppies because I would be devastated without ‘Missy'” (random dog name).
I kindly explained to the woman how our shelter dogs were neutered. She genuinely thought adopting a male dog to breed with her dog was the solution to her concerns. I waxed on about dog breeding being very expensive (when done right) and to maybe consider adopting another dog with similar breed heritage as her beloved ‘Missy’.
Some of us really are ‘big dog people’, or ‘labrador people’ or some version of ‘small dog people’. Aside from Labradors and maybe Golden Retrievers, it’s very difficult and dare I say impossible to get another dog just like our last dog. Part of the reason for the popularity of Labradors and Goldens is that predictable, happy-go-lucky-fetch-retrieve-lovable-family-dog thing they have nailed into their DNA. Yet, even all Labradors aren’t the same. Some will go through guide dog training and just not have the personality to be a service dog. They might still, however, make an excellent therapy dog.
Dog genetics are the most manipulated in the world. The percentage of difference that separates the hundreds of dog breeds in the world are minuscule.
I write this on an informal leadership training spree with my boyfriend’s mother’s recently adopted Chihuahua. At first I wished she’d chosen an older, easy-going A-list, golden retriever from a rescue (you know, like my last dog). Instead she brought home a ten-year old Chihuahua. This week Lilly has gone almost everywhere with me. I’m not used to working with such a tiny dog and more accustomed to a bigger, burly dog on the other end of the leash. Yet, in a week’s time, I’ve come to enjoy training and hanging out with a Chihuahua–a breed that stumbled into my life.
Our desire to “Get another dog just like the last dog” reminds me of a book I read, “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert. Gilbert writes about why we are not the best predictors of our own happiness. This is why we may THINK we want another dog just like the last dog, even if a different dog will be perfect for us. But like friends, no friend is exactly the same as another friend, yet they are both great friends. It is the same with dogs, even if they are the same breed. We may have many dogs in our lifetime and some we will describe years later as ‘the best dog ever’. We assume we won’t feel so sad if we can go get another dog just like the last one. In making this assumption, we might miss out on the next best dog looking for us. Keep your mind and heart open to who your next dog or pet may be. Please consider a shelter or rescue dog and good luck in finding your new best friend!
Jes McKay Gilmore
Speciesspectrum.com publishes modern greeting cards for every occasion. Every Species Spectrum design begins with a photograph of a rescue animal. We photograph both wild and domestic animals in shelters, sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers that would otherwise not be seen by the public.
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