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My father generally doesn’t like change in his life. We joke that if something ever happened to my mother he’d look around for a woman just like her and stay single if he couldn’t find her (ideally he should have married a woman with an identical twin so he’d have a backup). He doesn’t travel at all, because he likes his daily routine to stay as constant as possible. Growing up, he had a series of dogs, and each of them was named “Buddy” (as soon as one dog died, it was replaced with another and given the same name).
Shortly after he retired we got him a dog, and at first he was really angry (he said at one point that the dog ruined his retirement), but before long they were best buddies and the dog went everywhere with him. For months after the dog passed away people he’d never talked to before would come up and ask him where his dog was (people had got used to seeing them together). He said a few times over the years that if anything ever happened to the dog he’d want another, as she added so much enjoyment to his life. My father has had difficulty making change happen and still doesn’t have a dog in his life (it’s been years now). After talking to the rest of the family, I’ve decided to get him a new dog in the spring and was hoping some of our readership is knowledgeable about dogs and can give me some advice.
His previous dog was an English Springer Spaniel which was pretty close to ideal for our family. A dog trainer I was talking to made the point that when you get a new dog, you don’t want it to be the same breed as the last one (so that you won’t view it as a clone of the previous dog and will realize it’s a new dog with its own personality). This made a lot of sense to me, so I’m now trying to find a breed similar to the English Springer Spaniel, but different.
Things we liked about the breed:
- Friendly breed that’s good with strangers (we don’t need a guard dog), if it was barking a lot that’d be a problem.
- Very sensitive – this is an important characteristic which was explained to me as how much the dog will “read” its owner. Dogs that are more sensitive can tell when the owner is upset, whereas less sensitive dogs need to be disciplined more blatantly. My dad definitely needs a dog that can read him when he’s getting upset (and stop doing whatever its doing), as my dad isn’t the best at formal discipline.
- Reasonably athletic – my dad took the dog for at least one long walk every day and would often take the dog cross-country skiing with him.
- It probably doesn’t make much of a difference, but we’ll get a female (I’ve read in some breeds the males and females can have different behaviours).
Things we were indifferent to:
- English Springer Spaniels are apparently “one master” dogs and tend to bond with one person. My mom would like a dog that was more of a “multiple owner” dog, but I think my dad likes the one-on-one dogs.
- Especially in their old ages, English Spring Spaniels tend to want their own way with things (and can get grumpy). My parents were fairly accommodating with their old dog (although this used to irritate me a bit).
- Our previous dog was supposedly “pure bred” without papers. We like the breed just in terms of knowing what the dog’s general characteristics should be, but we couldn’t care less about the pedigree beyond that.
Things we didn’t like:
- My dad has found the house a lot easier to clean without dog hair everywhere. A breed that shed less than English Springer Spaniels would be good.
If anyone can suggest breeds that have the important characteristics for us, I’d really appreciate it! I’ve had suggestions to look into a Brittany and a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. I’ve also considered getting a English Springer Spaniel with different coloration (the previous dog had liver colouring, but I’m not sure if getting one with black colouring would be enough of a difference to prevent comparisons).
I suspect the suggestion will be made to rescue a dog from the pound. I’m certainly sympathetic to why that would be a good idea (there are dogs that certainly need a home). Ultimately, my view is that dogs are a pack animal and abandonment is VERY traumatic for them. My parents aren’t well equipped to rehabilitate an animal recovering from this trauma (and I suspect the process of adjusting to each other would prevent bonding: my parents would probably take the view that it’s a “bad dog”).
Given the criteria outlined above, do you have any suggestions on breeds I should consider or general advice about the process of getting a new pet?
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