The Joys and Fears of Expanding my Canine Household!


Sanchez is 7 1/2 years old. I have been thinking about getting a 2nd dog since he was four. I looked at many, but none of them were “my” dog, until I met Georgina. You know the feeling, you meet a dog and you just have a sense that they belong to you.

I came across an announcement on my agility group site from a placement director at Guide Dogs for the Blind. It said that she rarely recommended career change guide dogs for agility, but Georgina was different. She had an extremely high drive combined with a desire to work and she was very toy motivated. I casually sent in an email with a few questions about her. Before I knew it, I put Sanchez in the car and headed up to Guide Dogs for the Blind to meet Georgina.

I didn’t think I was really ready yet for a second dog, even though it had been on my mind, on and off, for over three years. I met Georgina first without Sanchez, played with her, and took her for a short walk. Sanchez is 68 pounds of pure muscle. Georgina was a refreshing 49 pounds, full grown at 17 months of age. To me, the difference is so great, that she might have well been 10 pounds. The good news is that she fit in my car in an appropriate size crate. And it was starting to look like she might fit into my life too.

Sanchez and Georgina also met that first day at Guide Dogs. They played together well and Sanchez even flirted with her a bit. I’m not one to make quick decisions, particularly of this magnitude. I told Guide Dogs that I needed a few days to think about it, even though I knew my heart had already made the decision for me.

I then proceeded to spend the week doing everything to talk myself out of adopting Georgina. I didn’t have the time. Then I worried that I had waited too long and adding a new dog would no longer be the best thing for Sanchez. My holistic veterinarian mentioned that she thought a 17 month old dog would help keep Sanchez acting younger. That was what I needed to hear to convince me to say yes to Gina (her new call name).

Still I didn’t sleep well for three nights before I went to pick her up. I was worried that I couldn’t probably care for her, wouldn’t have time for all the training she would need, and Sanchez wouldn’t want to give up his status at being the only dog.

But, as soon as I saw her, all my fears were alleviated. I knew she belonged with us and I was making the right decision. It is now six weeks later and I am absolutely positive I made the best decision for Sanchez, for Gina, and for myself.

It’s not been an easy adjustment for Sanchez. He’s been used to being an only dog in a household with me as the only person. He pretty much ignored Gina at first and always had this look that asked, “When is she leaving? If it’s not soon, I’m packing my bags.” As macho as he looks, he hasn’t been a dog to stand up for himself. When he was attacked by a dog a year ago, he did nothing to defend himself. When Gina would want his toy he was playing with or wanted his dog bed, at first he’d just get up and walk away and let her have whatever had been previously been his.

The first week, I felt terribly guilty. If it wasn’t his daily alone time with me, he was moping. I was horrified that I was aging him quickly instead of helping keep him young. But, I learned to stop feeling sorry for him and to stop rewarding moping . Lo and behold, he started acting like himself again. Sanchez started running full speed again during off leash runs, even if Gina was present. And he started sharing his bed when she left hers to climb up on his.


Simultaneously, he started hanging on to his dog toys when she wanted them. I also gave him a purpose concerning her. Sanchez is pretty stellar at staying calm in all environments, and Gina has a long way to go in this department. Gina adores Sanchez and wants to model everything he is doing. So I started having him teach her to hold her down stays.


I’m starting to notice that her young energetic presence is helping keep him more active and alert. They still aren’t regularly playing together, but they’ve had a few moments here and there, and I’m very hopeful that will expand. This is the first time in my life having two dogs, and I’m quite certain it won’t be the last. I am currently on a trip without them, and I hear they are having a blast playing with another resident dog. My hope is that without my presence this week, their bond is growing stronger. I now know that I have the capacity to love them both. Their personalities couldn’t possibly be more different from each other and I learn different things from both of them.

Have you recently added an additional dog to your canine household? How have your other dogs adjusted? I hear that it can take years for dogs to really bond. Has anybody had that experience? Thanks for clicking on “reply” and posting your feedback below.


8 Responses to The Joys and Fears of Expanding my Canine Household!

  1. Karen Porreca says:

    Dogs don’t always show it when they bond. Unfortunately, you sometimes find out how bonded they were after one of them has died. As long as everyone is getting along, I wouldn’t worry about bonding. Dog families continue to evolve over time. Just go with the flow and let them be themselves.

  2. I recently added another newfoundland to my household, a puppy named Rosslyn. says:

    as much as possible! I hope they improve as the pup matures!

  3. Lisa Spector says:

    @Karen – I am very happy that they are getting along and Gina just worships Sanchez. Good suggestion on just letting them be themselves and go with the flow. I am still in awe that you have 10 dogs and manage it all so well.

  4. Jerry Lake says:

    Hi LisaBeautifully written. I am continually amazed how even though dogs raised with equal care and attention can develop uniquely different personalities…even from the same litters. Not quite sure exactly why that occurs but I can say that it contributes significantly to the overall enjoyment and fulfillment of multiple dog ownership. Over time, I’ve learned to have a greater appreciation or how each of my companions bring out certain aspects of my own personality and on occasionally when I’m less than attentive or am distracted will do their best to remind me what they expect out of our relationship. Learning to love equally is a daunting task…learning to love completely, well, it’s the opportunity any dog owner is blessed to have…regardless of how many.

  5. Sandy Milnier says:

    I had my cairn terrier, Carly, by herself for 7 years. I wanted to add another dog and fretted about how she would adapt for about the same period of time you did (3 years). I adopted my second cairn, an adult the same age as Carly, and they both took it all in stride, the worry was for naught. Since then I have added two whippets to my dog family! The whippets are now 3 yrs, and the terriers are both 12. It’s been very interesting watching the dynamics of a dog pack and seeing the changes within the pack pecking order. The whippets were puppies when they first came, and Carly ruled the roost with an iron fist. But as they grew, the whippets came into their own and realized they didn’t have to be ruled by this little girl who of course ended up being much smaller than they are. The pecking order changed, and all dogs went with the flow, adjusting to their respective spots in the pecking order without a hitch. Having multiple dogs helps for Carly when greeting other dogs outside our pack. Carly used to snap in defense when it was just herself (understandably because she was attacked 4 times by bigger dogs during her life), but now the bigger dogs greet first, and she can see how the “outsider” dog’s disposition is, watch how it interacts with the others first… she doesn’t get as scared and hasn’t snapped at another dog in a long time. Having four dogs is a lot of work, but it has a lot of rewards too. I love it!

  6. Hi Lisa, I have had 2 golden retrievers most of my life. My life is music and says:

    Having trouble with Facebook.

  7. Lisa Spector says:

    Loving all the shares about people with multi-dog households. Thanks for posting. It’s always amazing how much they have to teach us. There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure. And no lack of love to give or receive.

  8. We have had our beagle "Beajo" for four years and just about 3 months ago we says:

    and they play so cute together even with the size difference. Beajo is for sure the Alpha dog and Pauli seems just fine with that. Beajo is a rescue too and has problems with anxiety. We are hoping that Pauli’s laid back attitude will rub off on Beajo. They will adjust in their own dog world.

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