Should I Get This Dog?

Updated on December 21, 2009
K.B. asks from Berwyn, IL
23 answers

A friend is in a domestic situation and is seeking a home for her Labrador. I'm told she is good with children and people in wheelchairs. My husband is wheelchair-bound. we've had 2 dogs in the 10 years we've had our own home. The first one was wild and had to go to a shelter. The second had behavior problems and tore up the furniture. In addition to taking care of my husband, I have a full-time job and have chronic leg pain. Walking a dog used to be easier than I expect it to be now. Since my husband learned of the dog, he hasn't stopped talking about it. How do I balance the needs of a dog, which I'm not sure we can fully meet, with the look on his face that reminds me of when my kids were little and wanted things? Is this doable??

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So What Happened?

First of all, thank you to everyone who has responded so far. We still have not given a definite answer to our friend who has to give her dog away, but I'd like to address some comments I've read. Perhaps I haven't had the best luck with the two dogs I've had so far as an adult(my family had one when I was a child), but I'm uncomfortable with not being seen as pro-dog. I've tried to be realistic in assessing the needs of a dog and what a amputee in a wheelchair and a caregiver/spouse with walking difficulty can do, which ties in to why the other two dogs(puppies) had needs we could not meet-they each needed both a person with lots of time on their hands and one who can physically keep up with them. My grandchildren are 7 and younger, which limits how much responsibility they can take on. We are still weighing options, and appreciate advice given so far. I will let you know what we decide. Thanks to each of you, and have a safe and blessed holiday season and beyond.

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C.S.

answers from Chicago on

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A.W.

answers from Chicago on

Is it possible to dog sit for a day or two to try out the dog? Also do you have any neighbor kids nearby? They might be willing to help with the dog walking if you are having a really bad day with you leg pain.

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V.M.

answers from Chicago on

I agree with Jessica. Not wanting to sound harsh, but your past history with dogs isn't very good - it sounds like you "got rid of" both of them. Dogs are a lifetime commitment, just like children. If you think there is any - ANY - chance at all that there might be circumstances that would cause you to "get rid of" this one, do not add this dog to your family. It would be unfair to the dog.
Maybe your husband could volunteer at a shelter or rescue? That way he could get his "dog fix" and you would not have a new permanent family member. Please don't add this dog to your family unless you are 100% sure that you can care for him for his entire lifetime...in good times and bad, no matter what.
Dogs are not disposable - or at least shouldn't be. But too many people "get rid of" their dogs....and in America we end up killing millions of (young, healthy, adoptable) dogs every year. Very very sad.
V. M

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C.S.

answers from Chicago on

No, you should not get the dog. It's clear you don't have the time to train him and give him the attention he needs.

Try to help your friend by finding another home.

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E.R.

answers from Chicago on

Well, I don't want to sound mean, but your 'track record' with previous dogs doesn't sound too good. You sound like you have serious reservations about having a dog, but you don't want to disappoint your husband. I would strongly consider these questions:

1)Who will do the major day to day care of the dog? You or your husband? Is your husband physically able to help walk the dog, let it out, etc. or will you be the only one doing those things and the dog will just be company for him?

2)You say the dog is 'good with kids and people in wheelchairs' - not sure what that means. How old is the dog? Labradors are VERY active, especially when younger, but some mellow out with age. But they may be prone to jumping on people and any dog might make a mess in the house, chew furniture, etc. You need to be prepared mentally that if you get a dog, you might be dealing with those issues.

3)ok, your friend is in a 'domestic situation'. Why is she giving the dog up? Since it has been her dog, she should at least be able to give you VERY specific information about this dog- how much exercise it needs, how it behaves, its good and bad points. Also, if her domestic situation resolves itself, is she or a spouse suddenly going to want their dog back? That would be very upsetting for your husband if he bonds to this dog.

4)Deep down, do you really want a dog? I can completely understand your husband wanting the companionship of a dog, but is this 'random' dog the best choice for you both? Has he ever considered volunteering with a Service Dog group? They visit hospitals, rest homes, children's centers, etc. and bring canine companionship to others. Maybe something like that would be a great outlet for him? Also, maybe a trained service dog might be a better, more predictable choice for your household.

It's really nice that you want to help your friend out and make your husband happy. But it just doesn't sound like your heart is in it. It would be awful for this dog to leave one home to come to you and end up having to leave again. I think you should look into some other, more manageable options for your husband to get some 'dog time' and then make a more informed decision about getting a dog of your own.

Meanwhile, maybe you can still help your friend find her Lab a good home- help her find a Labrador Rescue group that will take him. They will make sure he finds a good home. Good luck!

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J.C.

answers from Chicago on

Any chance you can take the dog to your house for a little vacation for a week or so? We often dog-sit for a lab who is a joy (we have a dog of our own, also), but it's hard to tell how they will fit in unless you spend some time with them.

If you decide against the dog, maybe you could do some dog-sitting for friends or neighbors to give your husband some time with a pet without having to own one?

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J.G.

answers from Chicago on

K., I had a Labrador a very long time ago and I loved it...she was gentle and a good dog, I also had a 3 year old at the time...the only bad thing is walking the dog...I have 2 adorable Dachshunds now and they are so lovable...pets are stress relievers, but they do need care and sometimes depending on where you live makes a difference...I have a fenced in yard and they can go out and play and run in it whenever they want, so I don't have to walk them...they do get sick and you need to bring them to a vet...then the sadest of all, is one day it will be a time for them to pass, too.....once my little guys go, I don't think I'll be getting another pet, unless I am homebound, because, how can you go anywhere and leave your pets...there are so many things you have to think about when gettin a pet...the two little guys I have now are by daughters...they both wanted a pet and I wound up with both of them...I love them very much and when my daughters come over they love seeing them, but I'm stuck with taking care of them too...They are a joy to me amd I love them dearly...One pooch (Tuffy) is about 14 yrs old and Killian is 6...I pray that whatever you decide, it will be the right choice for you and your dear husband and grandchildren....the best of luck to you in your decision...Merry Christmas and God bless you, Love Jo

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K.S.

answers from Chicago on

I guess you'll have to think about it thoroughly...but if the dog doesn't find a good home there is a chance it would go to a pound and later be euthanized. Some places don't keep dogs long. I'm sure it would be a great pal for your husband! Just be sure you don't take him only to give him up at a later time...I HOPE you do take him! We have 3 rescued black and white cocker spaniels...yes, walking is a job, but one that is enjoyed...and I'm a grandma too! The dogs keep me young!

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N.S.

answers from Chicago on

We have a black lab that is 8 years old and she is the best dog. We have 2 children, ages 7 and 2 and she is awesome with them. When our first daughter was born, she was almost one so we have had 2 children grow with her. They have tugged her tail and ears and the dog never growls or anything. They are very good family dogs and I would think would be good with people in wheelchairs. My stepfather is in a wheelchair as well and she is good with him as well. If this dog has been trained and you would like a dog, I would go with a lab.

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W.M.

answers from Chicago on

You don't mention the age of the dog which I would take under consideration. An old dog that is already trained would be easier to bring into your home than a young dog that is either trained but needs reinforcement or not trained at all.

A lab would make a good companion for your husband but since caring for the dog would be on your shoulders you are right to question taking the dog in.

1. If finances permit, you may want to consider hiring a dog walker

2. If you decide you will take the dog, consider a trial period of 30 days. If the dog exhibits any bad traits or you find that the situation is unmanageable for you then you can return the dog to your friend or turn him over to a rescue. One rescue I know if is Midwest Labrador Retriever Rescue, www.midwestlabrescue.org

3. You don't mention the age of your grandchildren, perhaps if they are old enough they could help out?

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D.B.

answers from Chicago on

You definitely need to make sure this dog is a good fit for your home. While Labs are the most popular breed in America, they are also given up a lot b/c the owners don't research them before hand. They are very energetic dogs and don't really calm down until they are over 4-5 years old. Like a previous poster said, it's also not always feasible to leave it out in the yard to entertain themselves- they need companionship as well as exercise, and with any dog tend to become distructive when bored. My neighbor also has a yellow lab, and it's quite a handful for their family. She is 2 now and they are ready to rehome her. Just a couple days ago they left her to "play" outside and she barked for 45 minutes straight out of boredom and lonliness. If you don't think you'll be able to give this dog a good deal of exercise, I would suggest you let them find a better home, and maybe you could have him volunteer at a shelter, or do your research and find a breed with a better fit for your family.

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

Twice now you've taken on dogs and it hasn't worked out... simply put, you can't repeat the same behavior and expect different results. The only way things will turn out differently this time is if you're willing to behave differently (i.e. take dogs on walks, hire walker, get a trainer... whatever it takes to make it work). Take an objective look at what you did with the last two jobs that led to the conclusion that you got rid of those dogs. Are you willing to do it differently this time and really commit? If so, great. If not, don't do it.

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S.M.

answers from Chicago on

You should ask some serious questions. In my experience, Labs tend to be very gentle, calm dogs. If this is the case, she might be a great companion for your husband. If she is well trained, he might even be able to take her for short excursions when the weather permits. Also, if you have a fenced yard, she will be fine spending a little time out there each day. Yes, dogs are work and come with a financial price. But, they are also great companions and protectors. They can also be great motivators. The right dog may be just what you and your husband need in your life.

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M.C.

answers from Houston on

Animals are expensive and take time: the eat, they poop, poop needs to be picked up, need to be walked, need shots and sometimes emergency care. And if the dog is not spayed you have to deal with monthlys and if its male it pees on everything! I'm not anti-pet but if you're the one who was to deal with the dog then no. If your husband will take care of it sur!- and of course you can help sometimes. You could do a trial run. Just cause he's wheel chair bound doesn't mean he might not be up to it.

Dogs can be great but remember labs are big and if he's not trained hard to control and they eat more and use the bathroom more.

Let us know what you decide.

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B.K.

answers from Chicago on

We have a lab and a 4.5 yr old girl and a 3 yr old boy and I am pregnant. Our lab is our other baby. We love him so much and after getting rid of him and realizing how much he meant to us I begged for him back and the new owner was kind enough to return him. We have learned that the reason for his wild and destructive behavior was due to lack of positive attention and too much negative attention. Since he has returned he is receiving so much positive attention and love and he is a different dog. It is hard to take him on walks, but just the attention alone is so beneficial. When we do take him on walks we just go down the block and that is so beneficial to him. We all love him so much and are thankful for this experience to turn our ways of treating him. We regret getting rid of him and know that will never be an option again, but again are thankful for him leaving and of course returning as we see things in such a different light. This is all he wanted was more love. If you give a lab a lot of love he will be your best friend. You also have to discipline him when need be. I use the same technique on him that I use on the kids which is I count to 3 to get him to drop a kids toy or a shoe and if he doesn't drop it at 3 he gets a time out where he sits away in the room. It always works as he hates timeouts. We also are going to go to the library and check out Cesar Milan dog training books and work with him 10-15minutes a day to get him to be more of an ideal, calm, respectful, know who the boss is, behavior. You have to very calm and patient when they do things out of whack because they get so excited. This experience has motivated me to start a lab rescue when our kids are older as I am such a lab lover and will always have a lab as a pet. I hope this helps.
B.

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

I resisted getting a dog for many years. Now we have 2. I like that they let us know when someone is near the house. Yes they are more work but the right dog can really add to the love in your home. My aunt had 3 labs, one after another and they were all sweethearts.

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S.H.

answers from Chicago on

K., I'm no dog expert by any means but am blind and have a Black Lab guide dog who has been in my life for a little over 6 years. She is now 8 years and 3 months. I'd wonder several things like the age of the dog and if you know her, spent time with her and, more importantly, like her? Can your kids, grandkids or even your husband help with taking care of her? Organizations like Canine Companions may train service dogs for individuals in wheelchairs and even if she is not a trained service dog, Labs are smart and perhaps the dog would like being useful to your husband. I couldn't know his situation or his limitations but having a dog could have emotional benefits which I had no idea I would experience with my Mary Jane. She is my guide for sure but also my constant companion and friend. I wish you luck and can appreciate this isn't easy especially if you have had bad experiences. Fortunatley, I did not, but they happen whether with pets or service dogs. S.

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R.C.

answers from Chicago on

Do you have neighborhood children? If so, there has got to be a dog lover in the bunch. Why not enlist on of them to come and take the dog for walks, or just play ball or fetch with him? It sounds like it could be something really beneficial, not only to your husband but you as well. The right dog can be a true family member. Perhaps I'm biased because I had the best lab ever from age 5-20....
good luck!

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N.N.

answers from Chicago on

Having grown up with Labs and having one now, they are wonderful dogs, but they need a lot of exercise and attention. It sounds like your husband can give the dog the attention it will need, but you will need someone who can exercise it. Can you hire a dog walker that could take the dog for a long daily walk? (In my experience, putting a dog in a backyard to get exercise doesn't work unless someone else- a person or another dog- is with them to run and play with them). If the dog is already well trained and you can find a good solution for getting it the exercise it will need, this dog could be a wonderful and fulfilling addition to your lives. If the dog is not well trained, I would caution against it. Again, Labs have a lot of engery and they take a lot of work to train. (Also, if you decide not to take the dog, your friend may want to get in touch with Lab Rescue, since they specialize in placing Labs in loving homes). Good luck to you and your friend!

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J.K.

answers from Mansfield on

Dogs are great for everything (things others sais as well as many many more)... but they do take alot of work. I totally disagree with what Yvettes opiinion is on who should have dogs. I have 3 kids and 4 dogs and all are healthy happy and fullfilled! People who treat thier dogs as their children often forget they are dogs and have dog needs and instints so they are not allowing them to lead a doggie fulfilled life. It is good that you are weighing the dogs needs first. Labs can be calm but... they are working dogs. They need a job or they will get frustrated (most dogs are like this but working breeds are worse) they also can be high energy dogs. Our lab runs so fast we can't run her on the riding mower going full speed and she pulls my husband who is very in shape because no matter how fast he runs she wants to go faster. She is put outside every morning on a 30 foot cable attached to a post in the ground so she has a wide circle that she runs and runs and runs. She never runs out of energy.
I don't want to say don't get the dog but just want to warn you or somethings. From your explaination of dogs you have had in the past it sounds like you really are not "dog people". You don't want to take the time to work with and train the dog or give it what it needs to prevent the frustrations in its life that lead to behavioral problems like tearing up furniture. Not to sound harsh but that is how i see it. A trial run may be a good idea although it may be hard if it doesn't work out to give the dog up. You may fall in love enough though you know you can't handle it. Good luck Hope this helps :)

B.K.

answers from Chicago on

If the dog is fully trained and well behaved, it might be a good fit for you. But labs do need to be walked quite a lot and if someone in your home can't do it, then the dog might become restless and unhappy. If you're the only one who can walk the dog, it will be a lot of work for you. I hate to be negative, but you've already had two dogs that didn't work out. If dogs are wild and have behavior problems, it is because they haven't been trained.

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G.S.

answers from Chicago on

Labs are wonderful once they pass the puppy stage (which in my dogs case lasted until he was 4) They also can stay outside and run around the yard if your life does not permit a lot of walking it. Ours loved to chase squirrels, loved it when the neighbor dogs got out of their yards and came over to play. Ours needed to live exclusively outside since 2 of my kids had dog allergies (we already had the dog) He had a deluxe setup in the garage so it is fine to let them play outside for long periods of time. He definately could be a good companion for your husband. I like the idea of doing a test run with him.

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Y.D.

answers from Chicago on

I would say no. Between your full time job, taking care of your husband and the pain in your leg, the dog will just be too much.
Dog needs a lot of attention and work, between walking them, cleaning up their poop, playing with them, it's like having a child.

I think you really need to think about it, because dogs get used to their owners, and giving them up is not something that should be done just because. They miss their owners and they go through a lot, and this dog will already loose one owner it would be cruel to put him through this again if you couldn't handle it. Plus you already had 2 dogs and it didn't work out.

I had to give up my dog recently because we had our 3rd child and living in a 2bdr condo, it was just getting too crowded plus we didn't have time for the dog. She was the sweetest and cutest lab mix and I got her when she was a puppy and had her for 7 years.
I felt really bad having to give her up and I know it was a painfull experience for her, but I did find a good home for her with a retired person, with no kids who already had 2 dogs and treats them as her own kids. I know I will not be getting another dog.

I think dogs are best for people like that, that don't have kids, responsibilities and the dogs are their children and they can give them all the attention- she takes them for walks, to parks, by the lake.

Your husband will not be the one doing all the work so it is not up to him and he's a big boy, I'm sure he can handle it if you say no....

Good luck.

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