I love my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Yeah, sometimes she’s a monster, but I would say she’s the second best animal-related decision we’ve ever made–the first being to put down our first dog Kerrigan.
I’ve always been against the idea of buying a dog. Adoption was the way to go. Why not save an animal that needs a home? There are plenty of good dogs out there that just need someone to love them. I still thoroughly believe this. I hate that people are out there breeding dogs for money when there are so many that need homes in shelters. Obviously, this was my line of thought when we got Kerrigan. I spent weeks searching online trying to find the perfect dog. We’d go see one that seemed great, but it was too big (living in an apartment limits the size of dog you can get) or needed to be potty trained or was too timid or too hairy. There were so many reasons why a dog wouldn’t be perfect for us and we were okay with waiting it out and keeping looking. We wanted a forever friend and those don’t come by every day.
When we met Kerrigan we thought she was that forever friend. The lady told us that she was still drugged up from her spay, but we didn’t even consider it. Look how she laid so happily on my lap! She looked so much like my husband’s childhood dog! She’s so cute and tiny and she was only 4 months old! It felt like we had hit the jackpot. Of course, if you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that she wasn’t perfect. She was aggressive from the get-go, but as first time dog owners we didn’t understand that’s what the signs were pointing to. We didn’t know to do tests before taking her home. We didn’t know that cleft palates are genetic disorders, and as our vet told us later, one genetic disorder means higher likeliness of more genetic disorders. We didn’t know the signs to tell that she was probably a puppy mill dog that was so inbred. We just didn’t know.
It took me years to finally grasp that my dog wasn’t going to get better. We had her for 3 full years, over 2 of which she was regularly biting people, including myself and, even a few times, my daughter. I didn’t say a thing on this blog until the end because I felt so ashamed of not only having an agressive dog, but regularly exposing my infant/toddler to this dog. Even with all the training we did, even when she got a bit better (through lots and lots of work and then lots and lots of upkeep), she still wasn’t anywhere near safe. There was no way to have her in the same house as my child who was growing older and grabbier and getting more and likely to get bitten. There was no way to rehome her because there would never be a way for her to get better. What she had was more than agression, it was something wrong with her brain. So we put her down.
It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I was convinced I wouldn’t have another dog in years. I felt like such a failure. How could I be sure that I wouldn’t bring another dog that was just as dangerous into my house with small children?
Soon though, I felt the ache of missing a canine companion in my life. I would never put my animals on the same level as my children, but they are part of my family. Even with two cats and a rabbit, I still felt the hole in my life where I needed a dog. Dogs can be a lot of work, but they provide something that none of the other animals do. They are full of excitement, joy, and pure love. My cats love me, but after being pet for five minutes could care less if I leave the house for 8 hours. Dogs want to be with you all day. They need you.
So we went, cautiously, in search of another dog. I’m sure everyone thought we were crazy. My husband wasn’t entirely on board with the idea. Nevertheless, I started to research.
After having had such a bad experience with a dog, I felt there needed to be some ground rules. Ground rules that would be impossible to keep with going to a shelter. My rules were strict.
- The dog has to be very small, even smaller than Kerri was (because one of the blessings of Kerri was that she was small enough not to be able to do much damage). If it wasn’t small, it had to be calm and happy and make it very obvious that it’s size didn’t matter.
- It needed to pass all agression tests with flying colors. If I felt even a flicker of fear, that dog was out.
- The dog had to be a child-friendly breed. Even the smallest “may not be good with kids” was not tolerable. I know that breed isn’t everything. I know you can find plenty of muts that are great with kids, but for this time in my life, I needed that clean slate to start with. I needed to know that this dog had a predisposition to be friendly with kids and people in general.
- The dog needed to be young. I think being raised around small children will make a dog more likely to be good with them.
I tried the shelters at first, but finding a small dog there is difficult and none of them met my standards. Finally after searching for a long time, I decided to look into buying a dog. After searching online, I found a dog that wasn’t being sold by the breeder, but rather a girl that bought the dog from the breeder. It was only 11 weeks old and the only reason she didn’t want it was because her older dog was unhappy with it around. I went and did all the tests and she passed with flying colors. She was still spendy, but much less than buying directly from the breeder. I think that helped talk my husband into it.
And there we were. We had a new dog. A dog that has never growled at my child in the 6 months we’ve had her, even when my child is noticeably too rough. A dog that not only treats my child like a person, but gets excited when she gets home. A dog that plays with the cats like she’s one of them. A dog that listens to me. I dog that I as sure as possible, will never, ever bite me.