ISSUE: Canine Companions
Lucy Writes:

     Here in California at the San Diego Zoo, dogs are canine companions to cheetahs. It made me wonder how many of us have a companion, and what kind of companions we have. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living with another animal? I wonder how many canines have a companion? I know you have Winnie and Vita has several friends and I have my dear friend Baby.
     My mama was at the San Diego Zoo and she was telling me about the dogs
they have working at the zoo. They have a beautiful Golden Retriever who was rescued from the pound. She is a "companion animal". Because most of the animals are "wild," the humans want them to stay "wild" and not bond with humans so they use this dog. Wow! Perhaps some of our members have friends who are not canine. Perhaps they help in "other" ways too. And I think it would be interesting to hear what kinds of relationships all of our member have with other animals and with people: how they met, what they like to do together, how they work as a pack, etc.

Mickey adds another note to the topic : Please let's include our views on the advantages and, disadvantages (for dogs and humans) of being an "only dog" family or a "two-dog-or-more family."  If we can throw some new light on the subject, it may help present lonely one-dog families become happier two-dog families.

     Before I came to my present family, I was considered a "one-dog only" candidate. You see, although I try to stay calm, I get very excited around toys, and I don't like to share.  I can also be a bit of a bully, mainly because I am quite a bit bigger than other Bostons, but I always forget that and try to do all the lap-sitting and jumping-up that they get away with. So, when I came to live here in Collingwood, I had to get used to having other canine siblings. It took about a year for me to become the trusted friend of both my Boston sisters.
      Some  people try to be good-hearted and take in a needy pet, but don't realize the time and effort it may require to socialize the new family members. So it's important for adoptive families to understand that adding a new pet to the household, especially a mature one, can take some time and effort. And there's nothing sadder than a dog that has to keep moving from family to family - or even to the shelter! - because people don't understand it takes time and love to change behavior.
     I don't believe that every dog is a good candidate for a multiple-pet household. I think that early socialization with people and pets is really the key. So before deciding on introducing a canine friend - do your research!! Fortunately, it worked out well for me with my new family. Winston

You know that I come from a very small human family ( one ) and a very large extended family (3 horses, 1 mule; 5 1/2 dogs, counting Baby who has been with us often recently; and until recently, 5 cats.... sorry to report that Miss Kitty succumbed to kidney failure ).  I have great relationships with everyone. I would agree with Winnie -- based on observation but no experience --  that "only" dogs can get bored, and can be extra demanding because they are bored. And then there are so many others out there needing homes desperately. So I am in favor of multi - canine/feline/equine/asinine households !  Just don't send me the vet bills. I wonder how many think tank members are purebred?  How many are with their " first" families and how many have been " recycled" through rescues/pounds/good samaritans? My best to you and Winnie, and I look forward to checking the website for other responses! Yours, Vita

     "Oh really Lucille dear, suck in you stomach and pull your tongue in; you look like an animal how dreadful. Come along now, hold your head up." This is how my dear friend Baby coaches me along.  I do try awfully hard to mind all my manners and often wonder how Baby would react if she learned we are both....animals! Well, here's my story of how I met and came to love my dear friend Baby.
     As a young pup I found myself outside in the dirt fighting with the big dogs for what little food I could steal to survive. The human contact that I did have was rare and not kind. After going from pillar to post for the first four years I suddenly found myself trapped inside a house with a group of humans! It was very confusing and frightening because they wanted to touch me.
     This is when my dear friend Baby came into my life. Baby is a retired show champion who had successfully reared five champion pups of her own. (Baby was recently orphaned and adopted by my grandparents.) Baby stepped in and became my mentor and my dog mother. It was Baby who befriended me and took me under her capable wing. Baby used gentle growls to tame my wild dog ways and taught me that there is great comfort in a canine pack.
     You can only imagine my shock and horror the first time I saw Baby sitting on the humans' laps and letting them touch her person and wrap their arms around her. She smiled and seemed to actually enjoy this contact. She urged me to give it a try while assuring me it was not painful in the least. Of course not wanting Baby to get everything, I determined to give it a try. I found she was right! Not painful in the least and quite pleasurable. I listen to Baby! She is very wise and knows lots of great stuff!
     For example Baby knows how to get the humans to do anything and everything she wants. Here's a gal to take lessons from! She also knows the finer points of cuisine too! Baby will eat anything and everything including salad and fruit, thanks to Baby I am now a connoisseur of fine dining too. Only trick, eat quick or the mama dog will finish your plate!
     Though Baby lives ten minutes away with her mama and daddy, we love each other and visit just about every day. We like to have sleep overs and enjoy staying at each other's houses when our folks go away. Baby is twelve years old and no slowing down for her. When I come in her house she jumps up off the couch with her ears straight up like a young pup. We run to the backyard together where we play follow the leader and sniff!
     We take a bath together every week, Baby gets soaped first and we have to sniff each other. Then I get soaped and we sniff again. Then we sniff again when we get out of the tub. These silly humans do not realize how disconcerting it is to have your friend's scent altered so drastically. Were we not the intelligent beings that we are we would feel like the old friend had been washed down the drain and a new friend had been found.
     I'm so blessed to have a dear friend, mentor and mother in Baby. She has pulled me into a world of love and friendship.
     I'm also so happy to have friends like Mickey and Vita, who though they are far away share my joys and fuzzy hugs too.
     Hugs and snorts to all our think tank friends who share their thoughts and insights! 

I can only imagine what it would be like to be an "only" dog because Mickey and I are together almost all the time. And we've learned to share everything or rather almost everything. I'll admit I don't allow him to play with the special treasures I've hidden under the sleigh bed in the sunroom. And he has a royal-goat-on-the-mountain spot that he won't let me get up on which is the little table at the end of the sofa. So we've evened things out. It's true that Mickey can be exasperating at times, but I'm probably not perfect either. Actually, we usually have a wonderful time playing and exploring and discussing everything we do. I vote 100% for "two-dog" families!

Hi Mickey,
     I hear there's a discussion question afoot relating to one or multiple-dog households. Well, here I am Top Dog )next to Mom, of course) - in fact it is just the two of us here for the most part. It seems like a good life to me - but once I heard her say a little impatiently, "Joey, I'm not a dog! Go play." Sometimes, too, she is busy so I have to wait around - which I think bothers her more than me.
     It's hard to imagine having a doggy brother or sister here all the time, but I AM a pack animal so it's probably kind of weird to be so isolated. Since I rarely interact with other dogs, I do tend to be a little wacky when the occasion does arise.
     If I had to vote, I think it would be for a multi-dog family if for no other reason than it might make my human happier.
     Woof, Woof,

Kiri and Mayu
     On our Think Tank topic of being the only dog or having companions in the family. I myself have been in both situations. In my first home, after leaving my mom, I was the only one but then I came to my new home with Mom & Dad and where my sister Sandy lived. We had a good time playing even when she wanted to be boss. When Sandy died I was very, very lonely. Then Mom and Dad brought Kiri home and I forgot how lonely I was. Kiri, being such a little pup, needed my attention to teach her the rules of the house and to comfort her if she wasn't feeling just right. Now she is grown up and she is teaching and playing with Guy and Katie. We all tend to each other's needs, like ear cleaning and drying if we get wet. I'm older now and willing to watch the other's play, although sometimes I join in, but It would be very lonely if I was by myself, especially when Mom and Dad have to be away at meetings.
     Mom told me that one of the horses they used to have was good buddies with their shepherd Snowball, who stayed in the barn to protect the horses. The two would play out in the field and Snowball would give Lucky kisses on his nose. When Snowball died Lucky made friends with one of the geese. I think even four legged animals need friends to curl up with and play with when their Moms and Dads are busy.
Kiri and Mayu

Dear Mickey:
I just read you touching words about our Lili's passing. I cannot begin to tell you how much we miss here. Since she was older and, more importantly, much wiser than I am (and will most surely will ever be!), I always thought that we were not very close. I could have never imagined that I would feel so lonely without her. Although she was above participating in many of my favorite pastimes, such as chasing squirrels or barking at other dogs who happened to walk by my property (you know what I mean...), she was an exemplary role model. She taught me many things, including the meaning of sharing and showing affection. Thanks to her I know how to behave in order to make my parents proud and happy (as well as how to train them to do what I want...). I looked up to her and respected her.  It is hard to realize that she is gone. My Mom and Dad buried her in the backyard and I have sat next to her grave for long periods of time, thinking about her and all the good times we shared.
Her absence has also has made me reflect on the issue of being a one vs. a two dog family. To be honest with you, I had not responded to this think-tank topic, because at the time I thought that, unlike the rest of the board, I would have to say that I would prefer to be the one and only kid in the house. I have to admit that I was wrong. My parents are being especially loving towards me in this hard time and giving me their full attention. Still... I feel lonely and not quite right. It's hard to put my paw on it. Even while Lili and I did not do much playing together, her presence was reassuring and comforting. It is too soon to think about it, but I hope that some day I will have another sister to share our lives with. And, who knows, maybe I could even teach her a thing or two... 
Thank you for your kind thoughts, Lucas

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