Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Couper Almost Gets a Little Sister

Since Couper’s successful Kindergarten training and an event-free six week stay by his cousin Sammie, we have been talking about getting Couper a little sister. The plan was always to do it the natural way. This is a family site, so I won’t go into too much detail, but it involves a man and a woman getting together, and driving to the breeder to pick one out.

However, I have always held out some hope that maybe we would find a perfect little sister through a rescue site. Although we did not get Couper through a rescue site, he was more or less a rescued dog (someday I am going to write the how we got Couper post, honest). So even though we (meaning Couper’s Mommy mostly) have put in our time with a “rescue dog”, it seems like the right thing to do to rescue one that fits in well if we can. So I have gone to a few dachshund rescue websites and done searches on the local dogs. I even created an RSS feed for

A few weeks ago a rescue ad popped into my RSS reader that seemed like a good fit. The dog was a one year old female black and tan short haired miniature dachshund named Anjellica. She had to be given up mainly because the cat, who was in the house first, was not happy about sharing the house with the puppy. This was almost like Couper’s situation, except that he was the one not happy about not getting attention (someday I am going to write that story, honest).

I sent the link to Couper’s Mommy. We hadn’t talked much about rescue dogs. I figured that after Couper, she would want to start from scratch with a puppy. To my surprise, she jumped all over the idea. “You should send them an e-mail” (apparently I am the writer in the family). “Tell them Couper is a rescue dog.” “Tell them that he likes to play.” “Tell them about Petsmart training.” “Did you send them the e-mail yet?” “Tell them about our dachshund stuff.” “Tell them about the blog.” “Have you sent the e-mail???”

After a few e-mails back and forth with Anjellica’s owners we learned that Anjellica liked to play (good), was passive (good), was not fixed (fixable), and was not exactly housebroken (not so good). We decided to meet at a dog park near Anjellica’s owners’ house.

Dog parks are something that we have avoided with Couper. We have nothing against dog parks; we just were not sure how Couper would react in them. We were pretty certain that barking would be involved. We were also confident that Couper would bark at Anjellica and her mommy at first and warned them about that. Beyond that, we had no idea. Would Couper be a bully? Would he constantly try to mount her like he does with his dachshund cousin Frankie? Would he play nice? Would he give us an indication that having a little sister would be good? Our greatest fear was him being a bully. Our second greatest fear was that he would give us no indication of whether he would get along long term with Anjellica.

On the Saturday morning we made the hour drive to the dog park. We met Anjellica’s Mommy and Anjellica in the parking lot. Anjellica was as cute as could be. She was little and slight. Couper’s Mommy and I immediately wondered if that was how little Couper was when we first got him. Couper immediately wondered, “who is this person and dog?” and on cue, barked like a mad dog. Although warned, Anjellica and her mommy jumped back startled. We were not off to a great start.

We got out a couple of toys to settle the dogs (by dogs, I mean Couper) down and walked them to the dog park area. Anjellica walked as sweet as could be. Couper barked at anything in his path. He was however at least getting used to walking near Anjellica.

The dog park had two fenced leash-free areas; one for large dogs and one for small dogs. This seemed like a very good idea as we walked by the large dog section and a pack of giant dogs ran to the fence and barked at us going by. Couper barked back, of course, but he made a point of speeding up his trot while he did. He’s only so tough guy, but certainly not stupid. As we got to the small dog section, we found out that Anjellica had never been to the dog park either. After a couple minutes of worried debate, we decided that if we were ever going to see if they are compatible, we would have to go into the leash-free area and let them do what they do.

Couper was very excited to be in the leash-free section, and went about marking everything that didn’t move (that is not just a cliché, as we have seen him try to mark his dog cousins in the past). Amazingly he was not aggressive to any dogs and did not join the small dog pack that barked at all passersby. We staked out a shady corner for Anjellica and Couper to play. Couper was a little possessive of his toys and played with Anjellica a little bit. For the most part, he just seemed excited to be outdoors playing in real grass (not artificial turf like we have). Anjellica was a little reluctant to play, but proved to be quite the cuddle puppy. As time went by, our second greatest fear unfolded, there was not a lot of interaction between the two dogs. It did not help when our play session inexplicably added a Weimaraner (not exactly a small dog either, but was a puppy and the wimpiest of the three) and his daddy to the group.

The dogs played for about an hour in the park. There were some positive signs: Couper and Anjellica propped a font leg up on each other’s shoulders without incident (not mounting); They did a lot of butt sniffing without incident; Couper barked away a bully dog that ran into the group and was hassling Anjellica; Couper let us pet Anjellica without going insane. Couper’s Mommy asked to walk both of them together on the way out and they did fine. But there were doubts as well: Couper did snarl at Anjellica if she got his toy; they did not play a lot together. As we left, I still had no idea if getting Anjellica was a good idea.

We left agreeing to let Anjellica’s Mommy know. She had warned us that another family was coming in the next day to look at Anjellica.

As we drove home, Couper’s Mommy and I started talking about the play date. We agreed that Anjellica was great and that Couper did not give us a real indication of interest. We really wanted to see Anjellica on Couper’s turf and see how he reacted. We called to set that up, but having already taken up a good chunk of a Saturday, really could not schedule it for that day.
By Sunday, the other family came in to town, saw Anjellica, and took her right then and there. I think deep down, we knew that would happen; she was too good to last. It killed me to learn that Couper’s Mommy was willing to take Anjellica at the park on Saturday; we just didn’t get a chance to talk it over. I had no idea. I went to the park thinking that we would not be getting a dog that day, but did not realize that to get the dog at all we had to act that fast.

As we debated whether I am too cautious and/or Couper’s Mommy is too impulsive, we realized that there were good things to come out of the weekend:
  • Anjellica got a nice new home in the country with a dachshund sibling and a retired family that has time to housebreak her. We wish her the best.
  • Dachshunds on the rescue site get adopted quickly (at least in Arizona). Anjellica was on for four days before getting adopted. There was a 6 year old dachshund whose ad came on after Anjellica’s that was adopted before her, proving it is not just puppies that get adopted quickly. In the weeks since, I have not seen any new postings for Arizona, so hopefully there are not a lot of dogs that need rescuing at all.
  • Couper can handle the dog park. We have promised to take him to one near our house before it gets ungodly hot.
On the other hand, it was sad seeing someone have to give up a good dog because of a problem with another pet. We certainly do not want to be in that situation ourselves. That is part of the reason we are being very cautious about getting Couper a sister.

So, we are back to square one with getting Couper a little sister. Couper’s Mommy is off from school in a few weeks and will have more time to train her. With little action on the rescue pages, I guess our options are breeders or the puppy store at the mall. The puppy store is roughly $1000 more expensive, but you can finance. My first question would be, if I miss a payment, whose legs get broken, mine or the puppy’s? I am not sure there is a good answer.

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