Life Not Crazy Enough for Ya? Add a Third Dog.

I think it was John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Well “life” sure has been happenin’ around here. Not least of which is that I’ve somehow been roped into adding a third dog to our crew.

It all started when Cait began making serious noise again about wanting her own little dog (emphasis on little). Having zero interest in adding a third dog, I told her to take it up with her father, because I was absolutely, positively certain that he would categorically say no. The matter would be over and I could continue on my merry way, having dodged a bullet.

And then that “life” thing stuck its finger in my ear.

Cait came running into my study with tears of joy. It seems my best bud, my love, my comrade-in-arms, my non-dog loving husband (whom I knew I could count on to say no) said yes! I went searching for him to see if he’d suffered from heat stroke.

He met me in the hall with a chagrined look and a hefty manila envelope in hand. It contained the letter Cait had written — an incredible 6-page, heart-felt, deeply thought-out letter expressing why she desperately wants and needs her own dog. I laughed and cried all the way through. It was a masterpiece.

Long story short, it was a no-brainer to see why Andrew said yes. It was the right thing to say — the only thing that could be said.

We’ve already found the puppy Cait will be bringing home in a few weeks (his photo is at the bottom of this post), but I thought this would be a great opportunity to walk you through the process of how you go about finding the perfect dog. There’s a lot to consider.

While my big concern is how I’ll be integrating this puppy into my pack, I don’t want to get ahead of myself so I’ll be tackling that in a later post. For now, I’d like to start at the beginning:

How do you determine what the Perfect Dog is for you?

Is it a rescue? A pure breed? A male? A female? A puppy? An older dog? A big dog? A little dog? As you can see, there are many questions that need to be asked before you can come up with the answer. And even more questions for you to consider here.

In our case, Cait knew she wanted a cuddly, small dog. And she wanted to get it as a puppy so she could start with a relatively clean slate. As well as being able to meet both parents to assess temperament and likely health issues of the puppy, the other big advantage is that she can raise it the right way from the very beginning. She’s witnessed the time and energy it’s taken me to get my rescue dogs on the right track, and that’s not the experience she’s looking for. This also meant that we’d be researching and looking for reputable breeders.

Because Kiera is a dominant female, and an older one at that, we knew we had to go with a male to be safe. (Mixing females together can be tricky business, and mixing females from the same litter is asking for trouble.) Knowing that we’d be looking for a male, I wanted to find a breed that wasn’t known for dominant traits. And because Graidy is a barker, I didn’t want to add another barky breed to our mix. And because Kiera and Graidy like to use our stairs as a NASCAR speedway, it would have to be one of the sturdier small breeds that could withstand being accidentally careened into.

Cait had done her own research on breed selection here, and had compiled a list of dogs she thought would make a good fit. Since I’m not familiar with small dog breeds, I immediately called up several of my trainer friends and asked what they thought of each of the breeds. Trainers are a great resource because they routinely work with various breeds — both puppies and older dogs alike, as well as easy and difficult dogs.

All were unanimous in their recommendation, and the list quickly got whittled down to one. So what did Cait get?

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Blenheim

Meet Wink. He’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

22 thoughts on “Life Not Crazy Enough for Ya? Add a Third Dog.”

  1. Hi Karen,

    For some reason I can’t find my other comments that I made, and silly me have forgotten which post I actually commented on haha.

    Such a cute dog, and love the name!

    I was wondering if I could get your opinion on the Cavalier breed in general, how you found living with one and your experience with health issues if you don’t mind me asking.
    When I started my thorough dog search I was 99.99999% set on the Cavalier once I found out that they are literally one of the best companion dogs, fun, playful, cuddly, want to be with you, nice to everyone etc.

    What got me though, and unfortunately really got my boyfriend who now doesn’t even want to consider them is that they are all almost definitely going to get heart disease, and some can develop mitral valve disease and Syringomyelia, which is a heartbreakingly terrible disease in itself.

    I guess my question is if you found it was worth it to take the risk for a beautiful dog knowing that any of those (or multiple) could happen, and make sure to have a hefty “rainy day fund”, or were you able to actually find a breeder that almost bred these health issues out of the breed?

    Since this initial decision I’ve decided on a breed that I can do a little more with in terms of tricks and exercise (I’m the one that you suggested the Sheltie for), but Cavies keep coming back to my heart every time I see a picture of one.
    Thanks, Erin

    Reply
    • Hi Erin, I almost suggested a Cavalier for you, but they’re not likely to play frisbee : ) Going forward, even though my first 2 dog breed loves are Aussies and Shelties, I can really only see myself getting another Cavalier. Everything about this breed is easy. And happy! These are happy happy happy dogs! And they don’t need hours of exercise every day. They’re happy with a nice walk when you feel like it.

      Wink is 13 yrs old now and going strong. Yes, heart is what gets most of these dogs, and it does get some dogs as early as 8 yrs old. BUT if you research and find a good breeder with longevity in their lines, I would absolutely go for a Cavalier. Wink’s breeder has dogs that live until 14 yrs old. Sadly, I don’t think he’s breeding anymore though. But I see that he does help with referrals. https://www.apps.akc.org/apps/club_search/index_master.cfm?club_id=6242. Look for Michael Grady.

      Yes, at this old age, Wink needs heart meds, but that didn’t start until he was 12, and he’s doing absolutely fine on the meds. We still go for walks every day, and to meet him you’d think that he was still a puppy–he’s still very lively.

      So don’t be afraid of a well-bred cavalier–there is no guarantee with any dog on how long they will live.

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    • Hi Sue. If you have the time and the space, cav’s are about as easy-going as any dog could be. Should not be any aggression issues with the 2 dogs you have. But I’ll say again, adding a third dog really changes the dynamics, demands on your heart, time and wallet, not to mention the amount of work.

      Reply
  2. Oy. . you didn’t mention the most important part of puppy buying. . find a breeder who does genetic health screenings! If you’re going to buy a purebred, take the time to find one who is less at risk for genetic disease by finding a breeder who screens for potentially deadly disorders.

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  3. Wink sure is cute. Good for you for thinking you new addition through. If everyone did that there would be fewer dogs in shelters.

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  4. Hello! I found you while skipping through the field of bloggers! I can relate to the crazy life with the addition of a third dog! I have a friend with a KC spaniel, I myself don’t know much about the breed, but you picked a cutie! Good luck!
    I enjoyed the excerpt of your book!
    I can relate to the loss of a four legged companion, also!

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  5. Tell Cait that’s exactly the dog I want if I can ever talk my no dog husband into it. Maybe I’ll try a 6 page letter :)
    Wink is very cute!

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  6. He is adorable! I’m sure, with all the planning, he’ll fit right into your family. Please let us know how it goes.

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  7. Wow! Smart girl, hmmm I wonder where she gets that trait? Cait has certainly been paying attention, and she knew if she did her research, neither one of you could say NO. Good job Cait – Wink is gorgeous BTW.

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  8. WOW!!

    I absolutely love the name “Wink”, and that picture could have me falling head over heals in love with one myself.

    For now, I think I’ll stick with the two Labs and just live vicariously. I’ll look forward to the posts about Cait and Wink that I know are coming.

    Reply
  9. Oh, I love King Charles Cavaliers. It was actually on my short list too, but since I’m a rescue-only type of gal, and there aren’t a whole lot of Cavaliers in rescues here, obviously, we didn’t end up with one.

    There are many advantages to small dogs, not that I’m biased, of course.

    It will be very interesting to see if she finds the reality of a puppy a little different from the dream of one. I know she’s been around dogs pretty much her whole life, but puppies are different — as I certainly found out!

    Congrats. Hope his integration goes smoothly.

    Reply
  10. Deb, I have to say he is a little sweetheart. Kiera has already met him and she did well. Graidy is good with all dogs, so he’ll be fine. So I think you may be right — there could be some serious doting going on here in a few weeks! Full grown, Wink will be 12 inches at the shoulder. He’ll be about the size of Finn.

    Becca, I’ve always been a sucker for the strays too. (Graidy was picked up as a stray.) How lucky for your dog that you found him. I’m always so glad to hear about happy endings. There are far too many sad ones.

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  11. well done Cait, with the letter and the homework. Unlike me, I just decided I wanted a new puppy, bugged my husband until he agreed and then picked up the first stray I found (we lived in a remote Alaska town, no one wanted him, he would have been killed — and I say “killed” because they don’t use injection for euthenasia, they shoot them cause its cheaper). The whole sotuation had the potential for terrible trouble. Good thing he has been loveable!!!!

    Reply

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