How My Toddler is Like My Dog – Thinking Outside the Box (House)

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It still amazes me when I’m reading a parenting book…and the advice given is almost word for word the exact same advice as the last dog behavior book I read.  I’m actually not even sure why I still get a kick out of it – it happens so often.  Apparently – when it comes to psychology – toddlers and dogs aren’t so far apart.

(No, I’m not suggesting you crate train your kiddo.)

I just finished The Happiest Toddler on the Block.  The Happiest Baby on the Block is pretty much required reading for every new mom.  Seriously.  (And for good reason, too.  Dr. Karp’s advice is spot on – hence why I picked up the sequel to help me understand how to keep Sebastian happy.)

Dr. Karp advises parents to make sure that their toddlers go outside every day.IMG_3621  “Every” day – he is sure to remind his readers – is “EVERY” day.  Toddlers won’t die (or even catch cold) from going out for short amounts of time even if it is raining, cold, windy, snowing, hot, etc.  The psychological benefits are worth the bundling or being slightly uncomfortable.  We as a species have not primarily resided inside single-family, four-walled, covered structures for all that long.  If you look back at the history of humanity – the majority of it took place outside…or in a cave…it is in our nature to be more comfortable (happier???) outside.  (Think of that blissful moment when you office workers step out for lunch and feel the sun on your face.)  Dr. Karp explains your toddler might be unhappy simply because you are forcing him into an unnatural physical situation.

DOGS ARE THE SAME!

IMG_3546Maybe even more so!  Dogs were built to be outside.  They spent most of their evolutionary lives on the move.  They don’t like to go for walks….they NEED to go for walks.  They NEED to be outside.

Often pup parents try to over think it when their dogs start acting out (chewing, biting…any destructive behavior, really).  Nine times out of ten – they are just bored and/or frustrated.  You are forcing them into an unnatural physical situation.  Your dog wasn’t meant to be kept in a box!

Obviously, you cannot walk your dog for 8 hours a day to fulfill his nomadic tendencies.  Nor am I suggesting you take your sweet, spoiled pooch and suddenly decided she will primarily be an “outdoor dog.”  What I am advising (and I’m no doctor or vet…so no one has given me an authority to give advice) is that you go outside with your pup AND your kid EVERY day.  Even if it’s raining and you all have to towel everyone off when you come back inside.  Even if it’s only while you thumb through the junk mail.  Even if it’s only for 10 minutes!

If for no other reason that this: a tired dog/toddler is a happy dog/toddler!

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Seeing Red – What to do If Your Dog’s in a Fight

Last week I was walking 3 brothers that I walk every day.  As we rounded a corner, 2 large off leash dogs approached (not in a polite manner, I might add) and one started acting aggressively.  It only took about 5 seconds for a serious fight to break out between one of the off leash dogs and one of the dogs I was walking.  With 5 dogs in the mix (3 on leashes held by me!) – things could have escalated to insanity pretty quickly.

It doesn’t really matter the back story…your dog is in a fight with another dog.  What do you do?

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Step 1 – Don’t panic (or fake it ’til you make it)

“Panicking” doesn’t necessarily mean running around in circles, screaming like a lunatic, waving your hands above your head.  “Panicking” in this context is any behavior out of the ordinary that your dog will take notice of.  For us gals…this often means raising our voices an octave and getting that squeaky, desperate quality.  It could also mean shifting our weight back and forth or trying to run.  It could really be anything that your dog is going to pick up on and interpret as danger! this other dog means us harm.  

You must stay calm.  Your dog is already “in the red” and is not thinking normally.  If your thoughts start to go all wonky – no one is thinking properly.  And when no one is thinking properly – that’s when the situation will spiral out of control.

(“Fake it ’til you make it” is hard…but not as hard as “Don’t panic”.  It is just a reminder that while on the inside your heart might be racing and you seriously feel like you are about to loose your lunch – the most important this is that you project that calm energy that Cesar Millan is always talking about.  The dogs won’t know the difference!)

Step 2 – Trust no one (no dog)

I know. I know.  This is a really horrible thing to say.  Let me explain – in this situation, your dog is 99% wild animal and 1% sweet creature that you know and love.  Your dog’s brain has undergone a change and your dog is literally not your dog.  (Haven’t we all seen sibling dogs that get along perfectly well snap at each other when worked up?)

DO NOT put any part of your body in-between fighting dogs (unless you are prepared to have that body part sustain a dog bite.)  DO NOT think that your dog will recognize that it is your hand/leg/torso and refrain from biting you.  In this aggravated state – your dog cannot determine friend from foe.  While you still think of your dog as a friend…at this point EVERYONE is the enemy to your dog.  By not trusting your dog in this situation – you will avoid blood and heartache.  (Feelings tend to get hurt when your own dog bites you.)

Step 3 – Give direction (to humans )

The whole reason I am writing this post is because of this step.  Reread the situation I described at the beginning of this post, or here is a recap: a dog fight has erupted between my dog (on leash) and neighbor dog (off leash).  Now, I have broken up many a dog fight – even sustaining a few bites in my day protecting dogs (yeah, I’m kinda a bad ass) – so I will admit I’m a little more trained in the corect way to act in this situation than the average dog lover.  As I was doing everything I could to slow this quickly spiraling-out-of-control situation, I took a half a second to glance up at the owner of the other dogs.  He was standing about 10 feet off.  Watching.  Doing nothing.

Now, when I retold this story to friends and family they all had different reactions.  “Maybe he was scared and didn’t want to put himself in harms way by getting closer to a dog fight?”  “Maybe he was stunned?”  “Maybe he didn’t realize how serious the situation was?”  In the moment, though, all I was thinking is WHY ISN’T THIS GUY HELPING ME?  (Him – large man, standing at a safe distance.  Me – little lady in the middle of 5 dogs (4 big, 1 little…2 free, 3 tethered…3 I know like my own, 2 I don’t know at all.)

In my calmest – but firmest – voice, I instructed the man on what to do.  I am not kidding.  As I’m physically trying to keep our dogs from ripping each other apart, I have to stop to state the obvious to this man (who thankfully did exactly what he was told.) “YOU NEED TO COME GET YOUR DOG!”  “You need to physically come over here and help me separate these two.”  “Now please back up.”  Seriously.

leashHonestly, I think this man (like many who find themselves in this situation) didn’t believe that his dog would ever get in a real fight.  Your dog could be of the “sweet as pie, wouldn’t hurt a fly, gentle around kids, doesn’t mind cats” variety…but certain situations can bring about reactions from your dog that you might never understand.  (Isn’t that the same with humans??)

When you find yourself with a dog who has crossed over to the “red zone” the most important thing to do is diffuse the situation as quickly as possible.  If you can remain calm, remember these are animals, and take control by giving others direction – you will be able to walk away as if it was a regular day at the park.  (Surprisingly dogs can do just that….while it might take a few minutes for your heart to stop pounding!)

Your Dog Loves You (It’s a Scientific Fact)

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Did you hear?  It is a scientific fact that your dog loves you!

How can that be proven?  Before we get into that, let me refresh your memory on what oxytocin is.  Oxytocin is known as the love hormone….it is basically what makes you happy, relieves your stress, and causes you to care about other people.  It is also associated with nurturing and caring for your own children.  When you are being social, your oxytocin levels increase somewhere between 10%-50% depending on whether you are interacting with a stranger or your own son.

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Good to know the feeling is mutual!

I’m sure you (you dog lover, you!) will not be surprised to learn that when you are petting your believed pup (or kitty cat!) your oxytocin levels increase.  I don’t think you need an official laboratory study to know that you think of your pets as children…but the fact your body biologically reacts with that same oxytocin rush whether you and loving on your human child or your canine one scientifically proves it!   This is easily tested by taking a blood sample, playing with a dog, taking another blood sample…and then comparing the different levels of oxytocin in the two separate samples.  (Technology today!)

With me so far?  Ok – here is where it gets really cool.  Paul Zak wanted to see if the same thing happened in “cross-species animals”.  So he found this dog who had a goat for a friend. (Seriously, I would love to read an article just on that!)  Anyway….he did the same tests that he had done on humans – take blood samples, let the two friends play, and then take more blood.

The pooch had a 48% increase in oxytocin – scientifically proving that the goat and dog were indeed friends.  The goat had a 210% increase!  This scientifically proves that the goat was, in fact, in love with the dog!  I love it!

While this may not sound like a big deal – it TOTALLY is.  I personally am sick and tired of people telling me that dogs do not feel emotions like we do.  I don’t care what scientific jargon you spew at me – I will never believe this!  Maybe Buffy doesn’t feel “guilt” like I feel “guilt”….but I do not believe that she is incapable of complex feelings.  If scientists have used the presents of oxytocin in humans to explain things like love (it helps couples feel intimacy and encourages attachment), motherhood (it helps moms bond with new babies), and generosity (it helps us feel compassion and the need to help other people)…they cannot deny that the presences of this same molecule in our canine counterparts proves dogs (any domesticated animal, really)  have a deeper feelings when they look at us humans. 

So the next time you tell someone your dog loves you, and they give you some snarky comeback like “He loves that you feed him every night” or “Those treats that you give her…that’s what she REALLY loves”…you can condescendingly roll your eyes as you chuckle and explain that they must not have read the most recently scientific studies pertaining to oxytocin levels in cross-species interactions.

“My dog loves me.  It’s a scientific fact.”

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I don’t need a scientific study of molecules to tell me Amigo loves his dad!

 

Read Paul Zak’s article in The Atlantic here.  Read about another study involving dogs and oxytocin here.

 

My Advice for Traveling with your Dog

 

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For those of us who consider dogs full fledged members of the family, it seems only logical they would accompany us on vacation.  It’s an adventure!  A change of scene! A slower pace!  All the things we crazy humans love about “getting away” can potentially be frightening for our pets…but with a little pre-planning and a lot of patience, an enjoyable time can be had by all.

Pre-planning needs to be so much more than packing a favorite toy and buying extra yummy treats.  Crates can be vacation-savers, and I encourage almost all of my clients to use them when they travel.  Even free roaming dogs will appreciate a quiet, familiar area they can escape to if the human fun gets to be too much. The key to utilizing a crate is making sure your pooch is comfortable in it long before the vacation.  An unfamiliar hotel room is not the place to introduce a foreign pen!  The process should start months before. (Here is where that pre-planning comes in!)  In fact, there should be NOTHING new introduced while you are away from home.  This means no new crates, new treats, or even something as simple as a new collar or leash.  For pups: familiarity breeds calm…and isn’t calm what your vacation is all about?

Patience is another key to getting to that calm, happy place faster. (And when I say patience – I mean YOUR patience!)  There are hundreds books written about dog behavior and what goes on in the canine brain.  All you need to know while you’re on holiday: you don’t know what your dog is really thinking.  Take a breath…and try to put yourself in their shoes.  Stay calm and allow your dog an extra moment to get comfortable.  This might mean waiting for your dog jump out of the car before you resort to pulling him out for a quick potty break…or might mean letting your dog bark at unfamiliar things without immediately becoming frustrated and yelling for him to stop.  Just give him a moment to adjust.

But maybe the most important tip I have for those dog-lovin’ world travelers is this: NEVER force your dog to do something they don’t want too. This can apply to forcing a dog onto a boat because you know “they will love it if they just tried it!”….but more likely will pertain to interaction with well-intentioned people. The general public assumes it is OK to enter your dog’s personal space and talk crazy baby talk to them. While some dogs genuinely love this and will eat up the extra attention, many dog will not appreciate a stranger in their face after a 6 hour car ride. (Honestly, I wouldn’t either!) Whether it be the chirpy front desk clerk at your hotel or your sweet Aunt Mabel – dogs should never be forced to be on the receiving end of unwanted affection. Have a response at the ready – “Oh my gosh! Buffy was just in the car for HOURS. Better give her some space!” or “I bet Buffy would like to walk around this place. We are going to go explore. See you later!” Not forcing your dog into potentially sticky situations will guarantee a drama free trip (at least when it comes to your pooch!)

With a little thinking ahead and a lot of deep breaths a vacation with your dog can can strengthen your bond, help your dog learn to adapt to new situations, and…who am I kidding?! Dog-filled vacations are better because everything is better with a dog.

 

How My Baby Is Like My Dog – The Power of “Calm”

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Baby Boy Sebastian survived his first Thanksgiving last week.  Being the cutest kid to ever be born (I might be bias), everyone wanted to take a turn holding him.  As he was passed from relative to relative, I quietly watched his facial expressions change as he was safely deposited in each new set of arms.  (If only he would have screamed and cried for everyone equally, my job would have been much easier).  I soon realized, though, that there was a definite pattern to his mood swings.

Call it confidence, call it “calm, assertive energy” (if you are Cesar Millan)…call it what you will.  But babies and dogs alike can sense when someone is relaxed.  More accurately – they can sense when someone is tense.

Dogs and babies don’t really know what the heck we “grown ups” are doing most of the time.  The way we move and how we vocalize are virtual mysteries to them, but they both are acutely and instinctually aware when we are tense.  If you reach out to Sebastian like you’ve been raising babies your whole life, he will mirror your calm and go to you with a coo and a smile.  If you come at him with a secret fear that you are going to cause him a massive head injury (no matter how sweet and eager to hold him you are), he magically transforms into the screaming baby from hell.

Dogs are the EXACT same way.  If you approach a  pooch with body language that broadcasts how scared you are – they are going to be confused.  Not only are they NOT going to trust you…they are going to be on edge trying discover the source of your anxiety.  If you  walk up to that same pup like you are the dog whisperer himself, that dog will take a cue from you and know that he can chilax.

It am truly amazed at how often I find myself using similar parenting skills with Sebastian as I used with Buffy.

(I think being calm, cool, and collected helps when dealing with other “grown ups” too.)

Baby, I Was Born to Run – The Tale of the Great Dog Escape

Your heart stops.  Your breath quickens.  You have that half-second hesitation – do you run or do you hurry to your car?  Do you grab the treats or grab the leash?  Almost every pet parent has been there…the moment your dog (or cat!) escapes.

Two days ago, this was me.  My house backs up to trail/reservoir/field…and the fence planks seem to shift daily.  My little chihuahua Amigo is a master at scouting out unseen holes, loose planks, and soil that is settled to provide a crawl space.  As vigilant as I am (and I am VERY vigilant), a few days ago we all went out back for a routine potty break.  I was holding my son, and looked down at him for maybe 20 seconds…when I looked up Buffy was staring intently through a tiny gap in the fence planks, Amigo nowhere to be seen.  I just knew.

Amigo relaxing in front of our questionable fence

Amigo relaxing in front of our questionable fence

Not his first escape (Amigo has also been known to bolt out the front door as well), I have my Amigo recovery tactics down pretty well.  Jumping over a fence or quickly grabbing the keys as I run to the car – I have been quite successful in bringing him home in a matter of minutes.  This was all pre-baby boy Sebastian, though.  As all moms can attest too – there is no “running out the door” with a baby.  I could obviously not leave him unattended at home…so chasing after Amigo would require involving a car seat.  (Time is of the essence here!)  Oh – and did I mention I was barefoot…and in my pjs??

Of course, all these thoughts were whizzing through my head in what was probably .25 seconds.  As soon as I began to move – I was spinning in circles, literally.  First, I have to put the kid down….no, first I have to get Buffy inside….ok now I have to get dressed….no, I should just put shoes on….oh, shoot, I’m still holding the kid…you get the picture.  All the while, I’m frantically calling Amigo’s name.

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There is obviously no accurate statistic or number on just how many pets are lost every year, it is estimated somewhere around the 2 MILLION mark.  A survey conducted by the ASPCA found that 15 % of us had lost a pet in the last 5 years…at that 85% of those pets were recovered.  (A high percentage…until you realize that that means 15% of them never saw their furbabies again.)  Not surprisingly, locating missing cats proved to be more difficult and had a lower success rate than that of missing dogs.

In every dog training book I have read, it advises you have an “emergency word”.  A word that will get your dogs attention and make him return to you no matter what the circumstance.  A word that your dog knows means business…that will recall him to your side even in the most dire situation.  A word that your dog will respond to without question.  How you manage to teach your dog this word is something I have never quite figured out.

…cut back to the scene of me frantically calling for Amigo while running around my house trying to figure out how to get out the door to catch him.  (Meanwhile, in the back of my head I’m thinking of all the horrible things that might be currently happening to him.)  Now, I might now have an “emergency word”, but I do have a sound.  A sound that will catch Amigo’s attention no matter what is going on around him.  A sound that will have him running to me no matter where is his in the house or the yard.  That sound, my friends, is the sound of his treats rattling in his glass treat jar.

GENIUS!  I think.  THIS HAS WORKED BEFORE!  I assure myself.  Grabbing the jar, shaking it like mad woman…I run to the backyard.  Shaking and screaming.  (Lord knows what the neighbors thought.)  10 seconds of shaking…nothing.  20 seconds…nothing.  A minute…nothing.  Tears spring to my eyes.  I have lost my dog.  He is already dead in a ditch somewhere.  I give up the shaking and screaming.  He has broken his paw and is crying to me for help.  I will never see him again.  And then…Amigo is trotting towards me!!!  He sits at my feet ready to receive his treat.  No worse for the wear….like nothing has happened.  (Dogs!)

Needless to say, he got many treats and lots of love that day!

In those minutes that Amigo was gone, there were only two things that comforted me:

Amigo modeling his tags (one with his name and our information - one with his microchip info)

Amigo modeling his tags (one with his name and our information – one with his microchip info)

**One, he was wearing his collar with all of his tags attached.  I cannot stress how important this is!  Even if (your think!) your dog never leaves your home or your property…it is so important for your dog to be wearing tags in a situation like this.  Obviously, having your name and phone number will expedite getting your dog back home safe and sound.  What you might not realize, though, is that people are more likely to take an interest in your pet if he or she is wearing a collar with tags.  While a neighbor might be wary to approach a possible stray dog…a collar can be spotted from far away and can provide instant confirmation that your dog or cat is indeed someones beloved pet out on the loose.

**Two, he is microchiped.  I honestly, in my heart of hearts, cannot understand why everyone does not get their pet microchipped.  This not only means that a shelter will call you if your pet is turned in (I know we have all heard at least one horror story of a pet being euthanized before the family was able to be contacted), but it also means that anyone can take your pet to ANY vet and be able to get your name and phone number.  The process of microchipping is no more painful than vaccinations…and relatively inexpensive.  (Can you really put a price on your pet’s safety?)

Luckily, it did not come down to a collar or a microchip to bring my little Amigo home.  As frustrating and heart-attack-inducing as it is, he is one of those dogs that loves to escape and run all over the neighborhood…but at the end of the day never ventures too far from home.

…and really the whole ordeal was my son’s fault.  How dare he distract me from my dogs with his cuteness!

The Yellow Dog Project

So, have you heard of The Yellow Dog Project??

I think this is an amazing idea!  Please spread the word to everyone you know…not just dog owners.  By simply tying a yellow ribbon on a dog’s leash, you are giving the world a heads up not to approach.  The reason why the dog needs space really isn’t important.  All you need to know is to stay clear and respect the pooch and his or her walker.

I am amazed at how many people – adults and children – never hesitate to approach a dog I am walking without my permission.  Not only are the completely unaware of the dog’s mentality, 9 times out of 10 they move towards the dog in the COMPLETELY wrong way.  (How would you feel if you were enjoying a nice leisurely stroll and all of a sudden a complete stranger reached out and lunged at your face?) Yes, I realize that most dogs we come into contact with on a day-to-day basis are sweet, loving, and forgiving of our bad manners…but that still doesn’t mean we should make them uncomfortable.  And, as The Yellow Dog Project reminds us, there are a number of pups out there on the street that just need a little breathing room.

So let’s all remember our manners when approaching a dog – and remember it is never to young to teach our children to respect our pets.  Keep your eyes peeled for yellow ribbons on our neighborhood leashes.  It’s just a little thing you can do to make one pooch’s life (and the life of his parents!) a little bit better.

For more info on The Yellow Dog Project, visit www.theyellowdogproject.com.

Wags & Whiskers Wednesday (#33) – Halloween Edition

Happy Halloween!

I’m not sure who is cuter on this holiday – dogs or kids!  I’ve seen some pretty adorable pet costumes this year…we will have to see the adorable-ness the trick-or-treaters bring tonight.  Just remember, not all dogs are fond of this loud, door bell ringing holiday.  Don’t feel  bad about confining a not-so-social pooch to a back room.  You might hear some growls and barks, but I assure you they will be much less anxious away from the hoards of kiddos hyped up on chocolate.

The ASPCA has a great list of Halloween Safety Tips that are definitely worth a read before the festivities begin tonight.  The Humane Society has also complied a great list of ways to Spare Your Pet the Spooks this Halloween.  Remember, that while you surely wouldn’t feed your dog chocolate intentionally, you might be so distracted by the costumes and excitement, you miss your furbaby jumping up on a counter or sneaking candy from careless child.  (Refresh your memory on why chocolate is so bad for our pups here.)  Make sure to keep your bowl of candy high and in your sights the whole night.

But now…for the pictures you’ve all been waiting for…

 

Seriously…this has got to be one of the best homemade dog costumes ever. I am not a fan of Honey Boo Boo (still not even sure who she is) but this is absolutely amazing! Thanks to client Alicia for sending this one my way.

Wonder Dog to the rescue! (And the cutest Minnie Mouse)

Buffy (as a beautiful princess) and Scarlett (as the cutest pumpkin alive!)

 

 

Getting your pooch an “Amigo” – What to Consider BEFORE You Add a Second Dog to Your Family

Last Wags & Whiskers Wednesday, you were all introduced to the newest member of my family, Amigo.  As I mentioned in that post (and as his name suggests), we got him primarily as a companion for Buffy.  Adding an additional dog to your “pack” can be a wonderful experience for your entire family – or a horrible disaster that can cause seemingly endless days of drama and stress.  Unfortunately, I have witnessed some of these catastrophes first hand…so let’s learn from other people’s mistakes!  Here is a list of things to discuss with your family (and most importantly with yourself!) BEFORE you start looking for your new furry child.

Know your dog. – You would be surprised at how many people don’t know their dog.  I am serious.  This was the most shocking thing I learned from working with clients and their pets independently.  People are simply unrealistic about who their dogs really are.  Some dogs were meant to be only children.  Some dogs need to be the boss of the house.  It’s ok – there is nothing wrong with that!  If you are not honest with yourself about your dog’s personality, you WILL have problem when you bring a four-legged sibling into the picture.

Be realistic about what a second dog will do. – A second dog will not change your dog’s personality. I have seen this mistake made over and over.  People that have dogs with anxieties get a second dog that is extremely calm.  People that have a dog that doesn’t like to participate in outdoorsy activities get a breed that is known for their love of hiking and swimming.  Unless you are Cesar Millan, this will never work.  You don’t want to hang out with people who don’t have similar interests – your dog doesn’t want to either!  You should always get a second dog that matches your current dog’s energy level.  

Don’t rush. – I am always amazed when people say things like “I’m going to the S.P.C.A. tomorrow to get a new dog!”  How could you possibly know that the perfect dog for you will be waiting there tomorrow?  To me, that would be like announcing “I’m going to meet my husband tonight!” before you even walk into the bar.  I know this can be especially hard when children are involved.  They want a dog NOW!  (Who am I kidding?  We grown-ups can be like that too!)  Visit a shelter, attend rescue group adoption events, send out emails inquiring about dogs you see on Petfinder, ask around to friends and family.  Dogs are like soul mates – if you were meant to be together, you will be.  Don’t force something just because you want instant gratification.

Timing is everything. – Do you remember what it was like going from a “no dog house” to a “dog house”?  (If your first dog was a puppy, you no doubt remember this transition!)  Adding a second dog will be no easier.  Even if you are getting an adult dog, there will be late nights, accidents on the carpet, chewed shoes…are you sure you’re ready for that.  No, REALLY…are you SURE?!?  Are you planning a wedding?  Heading into busy season at work??  Did you just move?  Let’s face it – even if it’s something that isn’t going to be physically taking up more of your time (example – you just broke up with your boyfriend), mentally draining things will literally suck all the patience out of you.  And we all know you need endless patience whether you are dealing with one dog or twenty.

Get everyone on board. – Just like with the dog you already have, it is imperative that everyone in your household is on the same page when it comes to pup #2.  If your wife still isn’t too happy about pup #1…a second dog will only increase tension.  If I were you, I would take it even one step further.  I would make sure you have non-in-house family (or friends) on board as well.  “It takes a village” they say…well, maybe they weren’t talking about dogs, but it sure helps if your mom is willing to come check on your new pooch when you have an unexpected long day or your bro will swing by if the doctor keeps you waiting.

I am happy to report that due to my awesome dog skills, Buffy and Amigo got along from day one.  Sure, they have argued over toys and sometimes they play a bit too rough, but that sounds like every brother and sister I know.  My husband and I were realistic when it came to Buffy and what she needed in a friend.  As much as we would have loved to get another “big” dog, we knew Buffy would still want to be the boss and therefore a smaller dog was best.  We knew she needed a pup with lots of energy, but he or she would also need to know the value of a good nap.  Above all, though, we knew that (even though we had fallen  in love with Amigo) the final decision would lay with Buffy.  We would never force a relationship.

Thankfully, we didn’t have too.