Being a first time dog owner in my adulthood was probably the best time for me to adopt a dog that wasn’t fond of other dogs. There was no comparing her to a previous dog that got along with other dogs, and my expectations were completely unformed. Here’s what it’s really like having an “only dog” dog in your life.
“She had little interest from adopters because she couldn’t live with other dogs and was placed on the euthanasia list.”
My girl Haddie is a pit bull. She was found as a stray at around two years old, so I will never know her history. She was at a shelter for a month but even though she was sweet, potty trained and loved people, she had little interest from adopters because she couldn’t live with other dogs and was placed on the euthanasia list.
Fortunately for Haddie (and for me!) a rescue saw the potential in her and pulled her from the shelter and made her available for adoption. About the same time, I began my search for a dog. I knew I wanted a people-friendly, snuggly dog, which is why I specifically wanted a pittie. Then Haddie’s and my paths crossed – I knew the moment I saw the first picture of her that I would be hers!
As Haddie and I got to know each other, I learned that having an “only dog” goes a lot further than simply not being able to have two dogs at home. I found out Haddie lunges at cars and at other dogs so she needs to be on a leash at all times and I need to make careful choices about where we go. Sure it’d be nice and more convenient to be able to bring her along to a friend’s house who has dogs, or to go to dog parks and let her wear off energy with other dogs. It would be great to let her loose in the yard and to be able to walk down any street regardless of traffic or other dogs out in their yards, but we can’t.
But Haddie is by no means missing out on life! I find creative ways for her to have fun. We go on at least two walks a day and we find low traffic roads to walk on and explore woods or grassy areas. It’s great exercise for both of us. We find fenced in tennis courts, play areas at schools, baseball diamonds, or even little fenced in cemeteries and I let her run wild!
Haddie also loves to swim, but her big pitty head doesn’t make it look the most graceful so she wears a life jacket. I bought a fifty foot floating leash that I keep her on while I wade in the water with her. Since we both enjoy being outside, we’ll sometimes find a nice quiet park, I’ll put her on a tie out and we’ll lie in the grass and take it all in.
Haddie and I have worked really hard to create a happy and manageable dog-free routine. We’re also working with a really reputable trainer this summer to try and find a little more balance, but it’s likely Haddie will always need to be an only dog.
“I feel that Haddie’s lifestyle is more rewarding than it is unfortunate; she isn’t missing out on anything!”
I feel that Haddie’s lifestyle is more rewarding than it is unfortunate; she isn’t missing out on anything! She gets plenty of exercise and adventure, she has free reign of the house, a comfy bed we share at night that is purposefully positioned next to the window for her viewing pleasure, a full belly, and a mom who loves her so insanely much!
I also feel the emotional bond between me and my dog-reactive dog is heightened because we spend more time and physical closeness together. Yes, a little more planning is involved when I need to be gone for extended periods of time or if I want to take her places where other dogs might be, but as I look over at her sleeping right now, snuggled with her blankie, tears come to my eyes – I wouldn’t trade Haddie for anything in the world.
Just as some people don’t enjoy other people’s company, every dog isn’t going to love every other dog; and that’s ok! Besides, if I had more than one dog, it’d be hard to spoil them both as much as I spoil Haddie.
I know we all want to give as many dogs a second chance as we can, but don’t look past doing it one dog at a time. Consider adopting a non-social dog. They may not like other dogs, but that doesn’t mean they won’t love you with every ounce of their hearts. If you feel connected to a “must be only dog,” trust that feeling and give that dog a loving home. It’s been the greatest thing to ever happen to me.
Thank you Sara Chrudimsky for sharing your story about life with Haddie.
If you think you’re interested in giving an “only dog” dog a home, please email our adoption team. We frequently have dogs in rescue that take longer to place as we wait for the right home to come along. The challenges with these dogs might be greater, but the rewards are unlimited!