How long should it take to find the right dog?

On the 9th April, my beautiful rescue Gt Dane, Fred, died. We were playing in the park together and as he ran towards me he dropped down to the ground dead.

We had planned to get a second dog in the next year to live alongside us and Fred but it obviously wasn’t meant to be. Fred came into our lives about one month after losing our deaf Bulldog Cookie. The rescue called me to say they had three dogs in and to chat through them. It felt too soon but equally we had been waiting for a rescue Dane who could live in London and with young children.

He was the shadow that pulled me out of the gloom. Never ever taking Cookie’s place but providing me with new lessons and showing me things I’d never experienced with a dog before. As each day passed his huge presence and personality illuminated all our lives.

Now it feels like I am once again back wanting a dog in my home, my children’s lives and my life but finding it an incredibly hard place to be. I know what I should do as its what I do, I help people find the right dog to share their life with. However every dog that I view, enquire about or look at it just isn’t right. There isn’t the attraction, the pull, the desire to share my life with any of the dogs that I’ve seen. That can come across as sounding mean but I’m just being honest.

One of the things I’ve learnt in the years I’ve been working with dogs is that the right dog will come along at the right time. That can take days, weeks or months. I always say to my clients, its the only time you get to choose a family member so choose wisely. Don’t rush it.

In the last three years, we have lost three dogs - Cookie, my parents dog Barney and Fred. One of the things I’m very mindful of is that I don’t want to go through any more deaths for quite a few years. My two children are sleeping with three toys of those dogs we have lost, I don’t want to be giving them any more toy dogs anytime soon. So this in turn plays a large role in the dog we take on, the age is of relevance to me.

The breed is less important, as I know I’ll recognise the dog for me when I see it’s face. The nature of the dog is the key - I live in East London, I have two children (aged 6 & 4) we have lots of visiting children, we live in a dog dense area, these are all the factors I need to consider the most.

I feel bereft without my huge shadow by my side but I’m not looking for a replacement. It doesn’t exist. So now I need to find a dog that needs us as much as we need it without letting the emotions take over. This is always a huge part of looking for a rescue dog - the dogs with the saddest stories are often the easiest to re-home as people want to become that dog’s saviour. It’s a tricky path to walk as often that dog isn’t the most suitable for you, it just makes you feel good about ‘saving’ it which isn’t usually the best starting point for a reciprocal, functional relationship that will benefit you both.

So, whether you are in my situation and have lost a dog or are starting out for the first time ever looking for a dog never lose sight of your dreams for owning a dog. If you work with me for me to assist you, we will go through this in-depth. If you are undertaking your search yourself - write down what it is that you want from a dog. And do not deviate from that list.

I always to say to those I work with, whether you are thinking of looking for a puppy from a breeder or looking to find a rescue dog, you should allow yourself at least 6 months. To find the right dog for you and your family.