An Empty House

It's too quiet around here. I try to knock around the house and revel in my newfound freedom and act like all is as it should be, but it's too quiet. I miss Jake. I really do. He was such a good dog except for the thunder fear, but there was little that could be done about that. Other than that one thing (and sure, maybe it wasn't a LITTLE thing), but other than that, he was a GREAT dog. And I miss Nevada. She was my little maestro. Always instigating and never taking the blame. If ever there was a mastermind, it was Nevada. A matriarch, that one was. And for the first time in many, many years, I finally realize that I miss Dakota. Hardly anyone I know now knew Dakota then, but I will simply say that Dakota was better than Nevada, Jake and Jack combined. And perhaps because this is the first time that I have been dogless in 23 years, I finally have time to mourn for my Dakota. First there was Dakota. Then Dakota and Nevada. Then just Nevada. Then Nevada and Jake. Then just Jake. And now there is just me. And it's just too quiet around here.

So I'm starting to entertain the idea that I will get a dog eventually. I mean, how can I not? I am a dog person. The problem is, I keep looking at all these rescue dogs online and I can't figure out what kind of dog to get. So I'm hoping that the people who know me best can help me identify the breed that is right for me.

There is one thing I do know. I can't have another border collie. I don't have the shoulders for it. I threw out both shoulders and earned a pitching injury just getting through two border collies. And these are injuries that don't heal quickly if at all. If I dared to get another border collie, I'm afraid my arms might come unhinged. And don't think this doesn't depress me greatly. Border collies are the most intelligent, fun loving, fantastic companions you could ever hope for. They are healthy, hearty, and ready for action. And they are darn beautiful to look at--Jake notwithstanding. My Dakota was a frisbee dog, and Jake was addicted to tennis ball. Because they are so high energy and DEMAND regular exercise, they always kept me outdoors myself. I liked that. I liked having to get out in the chill of the morning to throw the ball. I liked knowing that as soon as I came home, we'd have a dedicated period of time for "play" every day. It was a great end to my work day and a sort of formal transition to home life. I like that the border collie remains engaged with people. There was no such thing as a couple of pats on the head and then the dog went off to entertain itself. Border collies take the companion part as seriously as the herding part. I liked the level of intelligence. Life with a border collie is a partnership. And since I'm not a person who relaxes by vegetating (I relax by doing stuff), the D-and-border collie matchup was one made in heaven. And despite how much trouble my shoulders give me today, I really did enjoy meeting these dogs exercise needs. I am just unable as yet to determine how to do that without sacrificing my joints in my advancing years. I'd like a dog that gets me outdoors without causing me bodily harm, if that makes sense. Problem is, I don't like just "walking" a dog. A dog that can hike, swim, climb, and play with toys would be more to my liking.

There are a few breeds that are out from the get go. No short, toy, teacup or yippy dogs. No dog that demands daily grooming. No giant dogs (great danes, irish wolfhounds, and the like). No poodles. No labradoodles. In fact, no -oodles of any sort. No German shepherds, aikitas, huskies, or chow-chows. With all due respect to D-friend Bek, no bull dogs and no bull terriers. I am not interested in a fighting dog of any kind. I am not interested in having a dog I have to chain or that people will be afraid of. I like friendly, active dogs that are patient and good with most people, children, and cats. I want a medium size or larger dog that can hike a good 3-5 miles. I need a smart animal. No, not smart. Brilliant. And I want a dog that isn't afraid of trains, gunfire, or thunder.

Do I sound too demanding? It's because I've been spoiled by/learned my lessons from those damn border collies.

My sister has a cocker spaniel that has turned me off this breed forever. My brother has a English setter that is a talented hunting companion, but a rather lackluster companion animal. So unless some breed of spaniel is significantly different than these representatives, spaniels are pretty much meh. Now, my sister-in-law's daughter has a German wire-haired pointer. Lovely animal. Stunning in fact. With a gait that absolutely rocks it. However, it rather ignores anyone but it's own family. I had sort of hoped for a more friendly dog. I also get the sense that they are rather a bunch of dunderheads.

I love the herding group. In fact, all my dogs so far have been pretty straight up herding dogs. Now Nevada was a fantastic dog. Part Australian cattle dog, part Australian shepherd. Australian shepherds are much like border collies (high-energy, high-activity herding dogs), and the purebred Australian cattle dog is a bit nippy and 100% scrappy. It is hard-working and intelligent. However, this mix (sometimes called a Texas heeler) is a wonderful combination. Nevada had an even, sweet disposition and far less demanding exercise requirements. I might consider another Nevada. The only downside to Nevada? She was a bit of a princess and not quite as outdoorsy as I might have liked. Oh, she enjoyed a nice romp in the woods, but I really can't imagine her relishing a 3-day backpacking trip. And heaven forbid if I expected her to carry her own food and water. Oh the inhumanity! That might have just been her personality, because certainly neither of those breeds is known for being rather snobbish or elitist. And both are known for an abundance of enthusiasm and energy, which Nevada basically lacked. These dogs are not generally thought of as beautiful, but I thought Nevada was cute as hell.

My brother once had a terrier mix and while it had a sweet, even temperament, it seemed more at home in the shade beneath the truck than scrambling up some rocky hillside. I've never really heard of anyone having a terrier as a hiking companion. I think they look handsome, but I've never really been around one and don't know a lot about their personalities, their dispositions, or their habits. People who grew up with these breeds think highly of them, but I'm a bit wary. I'd like to try, but I'm afraid of making a mistake and getting something that doesn't fit. I really like the look of a schnauzer. I think Airedales are quite handsome. One that really interests me is the soft-coated Wheaten terrier. This is an all around "benji" looking, floppy-eared dog that seems to be as friendly as I had hoped, tall enough to make it a decent hiking dog, and having some stamina. I worry about what burrs might do to that coat, though. But still, a definite maybe. So I'm not rejecting the terrier group outright (with the few exceptions of the "fighting" terriers).

Another brother had a Labrador retriever. I think they are fine animals. D-friend Liv has a lab-pit bull mix. Tough. Loyal. Affectionate. But for some reason, I don't think the retrievers really fit me. Call it a feeling I get.

I guess the last thing I should mention is that the strength of the dog's personality really doesn't concern me. I seem to be able to establish pack leadership position with any dog I encounter. I wish I could say the same for everyone I know! In any event, I now leave the comment section open for any and all suggestions. Let me know which dog you think fits me best. Defend your choices! I'm happy to consider all breeds and mixes!

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