Sunday, March 4, 2012

Next dog, schmext dog

Yes, I'm still obsessing about that. I hope to continue obsessing about it for many years yet.

I had previously considered the shar pei as a possible next dog. The main advantage of a shar pei is, people won't want to pet it. The main drawback of a shar pei is, neither do I.


And then I thought, what about a borzoi? People might want to pet a borzoi, but that's ok, because it can run away like the wind.

Hmmmm... Maybe "I don't want people petting my dog" is not the best criterion for picking a dog breed. Still, I'd like people, and in particular little girls, to leave my dog alone when we're having a walk. And mind you, my main criterion for picking a new car two years ago was "I want to be able to lie down full length in it." After all, a dog is a dog, and a car is a car. The difference is really just in the details.

Well, anyway.

Pros of a borzoi: it's essentially a greyhound. Therefore it's a sprinting dog more than a long-haul dog, like say, a husky. So I could probably stick to much the same walks as Tinky-Winky, and then I can get one of those fast remote-controlled car, and let the dog chase it on the school track. Greyhounds are actually very quiet in the house, as long as they get out enough. So that would be nice. Also I've met borzois before and they don't stink or drool. Also, it's beautiful, very good in cold weather, and not into strangers. My dog is MY best friend, not anyone else's. And last but perhaps not least, I always wanted a large dog, but the bigger the dog, the more it costs to feed; a borzoi, being very light for its height, mitigates this problem.

Cons of a borzoi: might not be easy to find, and will cost a fortune to ship up here. A lot harder to find roommates that will accept a borzoi than a shiba. It will eat three to five times as much as Her Majesty. And since I have never seen one in Hay River yet, I suppose people will want to stop and talk about it.

Ok. So the borzoi option seemed attractive. But then, after last week's eight-kilometer walk with my little autistic friend, I thought a schnauzer might be a better idea. Not that a borzoi can't walk eight kilometers, but a schnauzer is more of an endurance dog.


Pros of a schnauzer: handsome; endurance dog; comes in three sizes, from 12" to 28"; herding and police dog, and therefore will work better with the kids.

Now you might say, shnauzers are difficult and not known as service dogs. But that's what you think. In Germany, they do work as police and military dogs. That's exactly why they can be difficult, in fact. All the highly intelligent dogs get difficult if they're not getting enough mental exercise. And while it's not commonly used as a service dog here, that doesn't mean it can't. So what if golden retrievers get all the credit? Most of them are as smart as a sack of doorknobs; the good ones become service dogs because they're tractable, that's all. But when you think about it, being tractable isn't necessarily a quality in working with an autistic kid. Autistic kids can be infinitely stubborn. (Or "focused" as I like to call it.) A dog that just does whatever the kid wants is no help to me; I need a dog who can out-stubborn the kid. In fact, if I'm gonna get a dog to help with the kid, I definitely want a herding dog, so it can outrun the kid and bring it back my way. If you can herd a cow, you can herd a kid. Hauling ducks is nice, but you can't do that with a kid.

Cons of a schnauzer: "handsome" isn't the same as pretty; hard to find; and not the dog I'd pick for myself. If I get a schnauzer for the kid, and then my life changes again and the kid is no longer a part of it, then I still have a schnauzer, for no apparent reason.

Obivously this dilemma is irrelevant just now, but the choice between a borzoi and a schnauzer could be summarised thusly: the borzoi is good for me, but not so good for the kid; the schnauzer is good for the kid, but not so good for me.

And then I think, if I'm looking at big dogs, why not a Belgian shepherd? I always wanted a Malinois. They're awesome. Then I remember that I can't get a Malinois because they've got way too much drive for me. Just because you love a breed, doesn't mean it wants to live with you. Sigh...

Then again, there are also some sporting dogs I rather like. Brittany, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, Gordon setter, English cocker spaniel, English springer spaniel, Welsh springer spaniel. And of course there is always the Icelandic sheepdog or the Norwegian buhund, both of them not in the book of breeds I borrowed from the library. Books of breeds are becoming lamer and lamer, if you ask me. And as sheepdogs go, there's also the Australian shepherd. And the Bernese mountain dog (my grandmother had one) and the greater Swiss mountain dogs are handsome, helpful, and strong enough to drag the kid home if need be; but I'd need eight times the food budget and a much larger apartment.

Or I could just get another shiba.

So, I guess I got it narrowed down to 17 breeds. Good thing it's not urgent.

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