Help me make a bad situation less bad...

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Help me make a bad situation less bad...

Postby Calypso » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:16 am

A dear friend of mine had lunch with a collegue/friend who is engaged to another collegue/friend. I know her slightly. He's a lobbyist, she is the right hand person to one of the power brokers of a state political party. During election years, like this one, she might spend 18-20 hours a day at work and he is wining and dining clients and politicians at all hours.

So of course they need a dog. Because when she's home and he isn't, she's lonely. And she likes to walk at night on a bike path through an area we'll kindly say is in transistion. The dog she wants is...a German Shepherd. And he's fine with this because of her walking habit.

My friend is horrified and knows what a horrible idea this is on so many levels. But they are determined to do it, so she's asked me if I would be willing to advise them to make the least bad decision possible. And they are open to it. They want to do this "right". (But still get a dog, which makes doing this "right" impossible...)

So my first plan is to convince them that getting a dog at this time is not the best idea. That perhaps fostering during the times when their work schedules aren't insane would be a better option until after they have kids and the kids are older. That it's not fair to the dog to be alone for more than 9 hours at a time and when they are home, the dog is going to demand a lot of their time and energy. This plan is unlikely to work.

Next I will try to steer them away from a German Shepherd, or any herding or sporting breed. I will explain that these dogs a) are bred with people for hours at a time and b) are bred to endure physical activity for hours at a time. And even with the plethora of dog daycares in the area, it is rare for a shepherd to be truly happy in daycare, even if they don't get kicked out for either playing too roughly or being play police.

I will try to steer them away from a puppy, but based on their choice of career and stereotypes I have, I suspect they have the "I don't want to deal with someone else's mistake" mentality. Hopefully I am very, very wrong.

So, assuming they still want to get a dog, but I can steer them away from a German Shepherd, what breeds are lower energy, but would like longer walks and don't mind being on their own during a longer work day? I'm thinking a rottie would be lower energy and still "tough" and while I know they love their people, they seem to me to be a breed who is not overly clingy. I also thought about a greyhound as lower energy, but I'm not sure how much one would be miserable alone for a longer work day. A livestock guardian breed wouldn't necessarily be looking for a person all day, but if it's bored I am concerned that it would easily scale the fence and find its own fun. Plus they're not great for first time dog owners. I thought terriers are happy to have a life parallel to their humans, without necessarily needing lots of human guidance or input (as opposed to a border collie or German Shepherd), but terriers can also get bored easily and that's never a good thing. Any other ideas? (And I know what I said above is painting with a very broad brush.)

And if they're determined to get a German Shepherd puppy, does anyone live in an area where they aren't all train wrecks? Because to be honest, in 13 years of dog training, I can think of only 2-3 German Shepherds I've met that I would consider stable, healthy, family dogs. And this couple does want to have children some day. The shepherds around here tend to be either totally focused/needing a job, emotionally unstable (lots of fear issues), or have joint or hereditary health issues. I can think of 3-4 breeders within 50 miles and I wouldn't recommend one of them. I think for health and structure they'd want a European type dog, but most of those that I know of are from major working lines and would go nuts alone 9 hours a day. The more chill American show lines can barely walk on their back paws and generally have epilepsy, seizures, or autoimmune issues in their lines. But I also know that different areas of the country have can see different, I guess, styles, of dog.

The other major issue I see is that no rescue or reputable breeder should let these people have a dog if for 4 months every 2 years they are never home, so the kind of dog they can get, they won't really want.

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Re: Help me make a bad situation less bad...

Postby SherriA » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:33 am

Wow, that's a tough situation to make a good recommendation for. (Ugh, that grammar is awful.) Are they thinking about at least getting a dog walker to come in once or twice/day while they're at work?

I think a grey might be a good choice. The few I know have people who work all day and seem quite content. What about the Japanese spitz breeds? They're not dogs I have any familiarity with, but when I think of a dog that lives happily with people but doesn't *need* them the way some other breeds to, they're the first to come to mind. (They make me think of cats in dog bodies!)

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Re: Help me make a bad situation less bad...

Postby MaisyPancakes » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:13 pm

I'm no expert, but I agree with Sherri about greyhounds. I've heard that retired racing greyhounds tend to be excellent for low-key, mostly-gone-all-day homes! From descriptions I've heard, they are totally chill with being left alone and not doing much at all, and really dig just being retired.

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Re: Help me make a bad situation less bad...

Postby UpwardDog » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:16 pm

I feel the same way as you do about GSDs. If they are open to making special/suitable arrangements for times when they are super busy and would be decent owners in non busy times it could be ok.

I'm in a similar boat with a good friend who is looking at Bulldogs. They just lost one who had horrible health her whole life. The other is 6 and it pains me to look at him--poor dog can barely breath, can't fit his tongue in his mouth and his nose looks like a scab. they were looking at a co-owning a bulldog bitch with the breeder. imagine how many ways that could go wrong. I have suggested a few healthier yet similar breeds but they just really like how bulldogs look. A boston terrier is too "wussy looking" for them. :stupid:

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Re: Help me make a bad situation less bad...

Postby Jen » Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:27 pm

I have a teacher friend with greyhounds. While teaching isn't exactly political dynamo career, it is super busy for 9 months a year vs 4 every two years. She has two and they are perfectly content to snuggle with each other all day and then go for a walk at night and to the dog park every so often. Sometimes she has to cajole them to go on the walk. :p

So based on that extensive experience ;) I'd be inclined to say greyhound pair. Everyone I know with a greyhound (all three of them) has two.

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Re: Help me make a bad situation less bad...

Postby QBert » Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:10 pm

I know a guy who breeds absolutely stunning guppies...

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Re: Help me make a bad situation less bad...

Postby maxs_mommy » Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:26 pm

Pet rock is out of the question, I guess. I don't have experience with greyhounds but I would strongly steer them toward something in retirement age. Maybe a greyhound that's retired and has a complete life history could overcome the stigma of "faulty dog" logic and they'd score brownie points for rescuing. I would also ask if a reputable breeder has any adult dogs needing a home, letting the breeders credentials sway them.
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Re: Help me make a bad situation less bad...

Postby emmas_mom » Sun Sep 21, 2014 6:52 am

There are several very good greyhound rescues (but do your research for the ones in your area), several of which focus on rehoming retired racetrack dogs. My former sister-in-law helps with one here in Canada, and the dogs I have met have always been very content to just laze on the couch or in their crate when there's no one home - big couch potatoes - and love a good walk or outdoor playtime when someone is available. By retired, I don't mean senior - some are only two or three (didn't run fast enough on the track :( ), most others around 5 or 6, I think. Could be a good match, if they don't go for QBert's suggestion of a well bred guppy. :)
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Re: Help me make a bad situation less bad...

Postby Kathleen » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:21 am

I would think a rescue Greyhound would be the way to go. Large enough to be imposing, but okay with being crated, alone for long periods of time. I have had friends say that Greyhound aren't great running partners. Not really sure what that means but thought I would throw that out there. The other thing if they are willing to spend the money would be an awesome dog walker. I have a friend that is a Doctor and works some crazy hours. She has a person who she pays well to care for her dogs at those times.

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