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ISO: Advice on adopting after recent losses

5045 Views 62 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  PatriciafromCO
So, I realize this is an intensely personal question and only my husband and myself can make the best decision we can for us, but I could really use some advice or stories or anything helpful regarding adopting a new dog after yours dies.

Sebastian, the dog my husband and I adopted when we first moved in together, died on January 3rd, just a few months after my family dog from childhood died as well. Obviously, it's been a lot of loss in a short period of time. I have not lived in a house without a dog since I was 13 and I will be 30 next year. I hate being in a house without a dog even more than I thought I would (and it is a "house" without a dog, not a "home"). I hate it so much. I am so lonely without both of them. Further, I have serious and chronic health problems of my own... neither Bailey nor Sebastian were service animals, but I did not realize how much my health relied on them until they were gone. Or maybe the stress of their passing has thrown my system out of whack, which is also entirely possible.

Basically, I feel like I'm ready to start looking for our next family member. The idea that a new dog could in any way replace Bailey or Sebastian is absolutely unthinkable to me, so believe me that is not what this is. Or, that's certainly not what we want it to be, but I am also well aware that my husband and I are still very early in the grieving process for Sebastian and that we need to be cautious in our decision making. I think we are, though. We are keeping the lines of communication open with each other and when we browsed on Petfinder we sent an enquiry about ONE dog that looked like he'd fit our lives... not 100 questions about 100 animals that who knows if they'd work for us.

Anyway, I guess I'm just looking for stories about when you adopted after losing another pet. Did you do so quickly? Did it take years? Have you reached your last dog? I would also be extremely curious to hear from those who have fallen in love with specific breeds. Sebastian was Pyr mix and we are hoping for another mix or full bred Pyr, but want to be congnisant about not comparing him to Sebastian. At the same time, we know lots of people who will get the same breed over and over again. Bailey was my first dog from childhood and Sebastian was my first dog I adopted myself as an adult so this is the "first second dog" for everyone and we are all feeling a bit lost about it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, while recognizing (again) that no one else can make this decision for us.

Thanks in advance.
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Small snag and I'm totally freaking myself out about it. I already put in a call to our coordinator and hopefully he can reassure me it's OK and/or provide some help.

The male dog in the pair is a real jumper, as are a lot of Great Pyrs. We have a fenced in yard with tall wooden fences on two sides, a slightly-shorter chain link on one side, and the house making up the fourth side. The male dog especially needs at least 5 feet of fence.

We knew the wooden fences are about 5.5ft and the chain link isn't much shorter than that, but I was looking at in from the window and I said... jeez... you know, I better measure that.

We weren't too far off, but it's basically a crooked 5ft. fence so in actuality, it's like 4'10" off the ground.

I've already found a solution that was specifically from a site dealing with a canine escape artist, but I don't know if it will be good enough for the rescue and for the dog's safety. I am fairly confident about it; it's basically adding an additional foot in very stiff wire meshing to the top of the fence, to make it closer to 5ft. 10", and it isn't chicken wire. It's only one side of the fence. But will he be able to launch himself against it hard enough to go over? I don't know. It also doesn't sound like he's as much of an "escape artist" as "typical Pyrenees with wandering instinct." Frankly, the height is too close for comfort anyway. I would want to add something protective to the sharp tops of the links, and this solution does that, too.

Can anyone advise/console while I am waiting to hear back from their coordinator?
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I don't know about Pyrs jumping, or how they might evaluate, but let them bring up the issue with the fence when they visit. If the fence is the only issue, and you make it clear that you will do what's needed, I'd hope that they'd be very positive about someone willing to take a pair of adults!

Do Pyrs run up to the fence, or do they stand at the fence and jump straight up? One thing that I've used for dogs that jump straight up is to put chicken wire flat on the ground by the fence. Most dogs do not like to stand on chicken wire, so that can be a deterrent to getting close to the fence. Good luck!
Thank you! I'm honestly not 100% certain how most Pyrenees tend to jump but it does look like Bear has some good vertical height from a standing position. Still, it's a 5' minimum and that's what we have besides the crookedness.

The only reason I wanted to bring it up with them is because I might have accidentally listed specifically the chain link as 5 and a half feet on the application (the wooden parts are that tall), and I just don't want the home visit person to say "there's no way that's a 5.5 foot fence" and make it look like we were being dishonest in order to be considered. However, as you say, I also would really hope that common sense prevails here, especially as the fence otherwise meets the minimum height and is the only thing I am concerned about with the house, for a pair of adult dogs.

I already sent the e-mail asking for a quick call but I can always just say I wanted to check in before the home visit and prefer phone calls to e-mail, which I do. The e-mail itself had no details, it just said I had no problems but wanted his guidance on something, so alternatively, I could say that I wanted to double check the fence height as we're getting ready and since it's right at the minimum, I just wanted to ask if he had any advice on whether further safety measures would be necessary, and if so, what the most effective method would be apropos how Pyrenees tend to approach jumping.

Unless you think I shouldn't even say that much, which is exactly why I am asking! Again, my main concern is that I listed the chain link as 5.5 feet and the woman coming to check will be able to tell, and whether that could reflect poorly on us...
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Over the phone, you might apologize and say that you 'mis-typed' ? 5.5 feet, and you re-measured, and the fence is 5 foot. But, when they come visit, if the fence is the minimum 5 feet high, you could apologize only if they raise the issue ... but, if you can, let them be impressed with the house visit, before stating a 'non-problem' ... and then ask about strategies for keeping the dog safe ... possibly adding the chicken wire suggestion.
Thanks again. I'm not going to raise the issue on the home visit. The way it's working in our case is that someone from a rescue up here is coming to do the home check on their behalf, which she does whenever someone from the area is adopting, but otherwise she's basically coming to relay information about the house to the coordinator, who won't be here himself, but who we are otherwise working with. I think if/when he calls me tonight I'm just going to tell him I double checked the fence, I may have accidentally said it was 5.5 ft, and wanted to make sure that's fixed on the application if it needs to be fixed ahead of the home visit, then leave it at that for now.

I know I'm way overthinking this but I am literally, actually obsessive compulsive and it's this kind of situation it really shows.
I think it depends on the type of fence too. But it can be an issue, I'm not going to lie - a lot of Pyrs are jumpers, and they are big dogs. Really... I'd be honest with the rescue. In the end you don't want a dog that will jump up your fence either.
Thanks Fracl. We are familiar with Pyrs but our last either was not a big jumper or was not physically capable of such large jumps. These Pyrs are not that large, at least for Pyrs... they are mixes, 55-60lbs, not 110lb purebred Pyrs or even a larger mix. Most of the fencing is fine; it's one side of the fence that is chain-link and right at the 5 foot min, but from phone call with coordinator does not sound like it will be an issue, especially as we are open to and able to do some adjustments. The other three sides of the fence are a complete non-problem. Really other 2 sides; the fourth side is the wall of the house.

ed: Home visit is today so it sounds like we'll just ask what the woman visiting suggests, or if she thinks it's not a particular problem, but there do seem to be a small handful of options for us to alter the fencing on that one side.
the home visit went great! We'll be recommended. We mostly just sat at the kitchen table and talked. Seems like all will work out. They are leaving it to us to deal with the fence as necessary; they're not concerned about it and are comfortable about our ability to handle it. Again, it's not like the fence is actually under the minimum suggested height, just kind of wonky. The woman who came by actually said it looks like a lovely yard for a dog or dogs. We will have them on leads to start anyway, so they can learn the perimeter, and if extension is required we'll do it but it may not be. She also particularly loved the room we have basically set aside for them... we have a large spare room right now where we intend to put their crates and beds. Thanks everyone for the advice and support, I'll continue to keep posted on the process since the next step is meeting Bear and Sally.
Awesome news!
Thank you! Yes, hopefully everything goes smoothly from this point. The only weird thing is that according to the coordinator, once the home visit is finished and we're recommended (which again, hopefully is the case based on what we were told), he'll send the complete recommendation to the board for final approval. It sounds like they almost always approve and when they don't it's for weird reasons that shouldn't apply to us, but that's the last real hurdle other than our own decision-making, which we are pretty set on.

Thank you all again, I'll be sure to update as we know more.
The adoption process can be so frustrating sometimes.

Hopefully this is really nothing, but the woman who did the home visit was very complimentary and swore up and down on her own volition that she'd send in her part of our application on Saturday night to say the visit was fine, we're set, and she'd be recommending us. The reason she promised to do it Saturday night was because she was leaving for a vacation on Sunday (I don't know for how long.) We would have totally understood if she said "well, with my trip I'll get to this as soon as I can," but she really went out of her way to promise she'd do it that night so we could keep moving.

Imagine my surprise when the adoption coordinator e-mailed to ask how the home visit went, since he's heard absolutely nothing from her thus far!

I really don't think she would have told us that she was recommending us if she wasn't, especially since I know the rescue wants to find a place for the pair particularly, but it's frustrating nonetheless. We've still got time for things to happen but it really screws up our schedule if we can't do a meeting this weekend as we intended, and we only intended to do that because it sounded like we'd be far enough along by then.

So... really just venting, hopefully it's just a tiny little snafu and/or the visitor ran out of time before her vacation, but it would have been really nice if she could have told the adoption coordinator that it went well, at least. It doesn't sound like he's heard a word from her as of yet, although it's unclear if the material she had to fill out gets sent directly to him or if it goes elsewhere and he was just trying to check in with her to see how the visit went. I guess there's a tiny possibility she filled out the necessary forms and it went right to the board, but it sounded like the coordinator would be putting all the recommendations together.

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Thank you, Patricia!

What can I say, I'm a worrier, but it was as I hoped: for whatever reason, the woman who visited couldn't do the paperwork yet but she did get in touch with the coordinator and raved and raved about us, so we are all set to move forward with a meeting.

Onward and upward!
We had a really lovely meeting with Bear and Sally. Both of us were worried it might be too painful being with dogs who look so much like Sebastian, but neither of us really felt that at all. They were just so clearly different dogs, and knowing they are in need really erased any hesitations we had about the comparisons. We will have to talk a bit more, but I literally cannot envision us saying no. I cannot bring to mind a situation that causes us to say "no thanks, someone else will come along to give these two a home." We didn't really learn anything super new, just things that reinforced what we were already told in multiple VERY accurate descriptions.

Bear is friendly, outgoing, a people pleaser, excitable. He will be happy the moment he walks in the door.


Sally is beautiful and gentle and soft and lovely, but her shyness is painful and will be a true challenge. She is not aggressive in the slightest, just terrified of everything. She has been in the foster home for two months and still will not take treats directly from her foster mom's hand, though she will eat a treat left in her crate.

We mostly knew this, though, and feel up for the challenge. I know it will take her a good deal of time just to become comfortable with us, but it will also be different with just the two of them-- the foster mom also has two dogs of her own, it's well-controlled chaos there right now.

I will continue to post updates but I really can't imagine us saying no to these two. We know they've already been there a while because they're a pair, we feel confident we can help Sally with her issues as we have experience with very shy dogs, and we have long wanted two. I think we'd be fools not to.
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Sounds like the perfect home for them. Time and patience and the female will come around as I am sure you know. She just needs time away from the chaos of the multiple dog foster home.
So, it sounds like the fence was a non-issue. What's the hold-up? ;-)

When is the decision, and when can you bring them home?

For Sally, one approach that I used with Mikee [who'd been in a Rescue for 1.5 years] was bond based training. The first thing, after he began to relax in his new home, I took him for a walk in the backyard, then an on-leash walk in the neighborhood, talking or singing to him all the way. Then, I sat with him on the floor, not looking at him or confining him, but I had some cheese cubes. I would eat one, then stop. Then, I bit one in half, and offered him the other half, continuing for 5 - 10 pieces. If he didn't want to take it from me, I'd toss it to him, so he could catch it (not at first), or eat it off the floor at his leisure.
as least you have an (IN) with Sally and that is through Bear... she is bonded to Bear so directing all you attention to Bear and teaching him, Sally is sure to follow Bear when not feeling confronted from you directly. she will learn at the same time hearing your voice and watching what Bear and you do to follow along. Just have to put yourself in a position that you ignore her completely. Sally will pick up everything during the time she is deciding to bond with you. Great they feel right for yall..
Next weekend-- Feb 9-10-- was the date they gave us as soonest possible date of adoption if everything went smoothly, which until now it has been. It still mostly is, I mean, there aren't really any problems on the rescue's side or anything like that.

I'll try to keep a long story short but in all seriousness, the real hold up at the moment is that we had an important trip to take this weekend that got canceled short notice and out of our control, but we probably still have to do the trip anyway and try to work everything out here in the meantime so whereas before we had everything planned well and nicely and would have been completely ready to pick up the dogs next weekend, now it's a total nightmare scheduling-wise. The long story is why we probably can't cancel the trip altogether but might be able to postpone, it's just a stupid health-related thing for me.

We don't know for sure they'll be ready to release them next weekend and might be able to squeeze our trip in before then regardless, it's just going to be a lot if both things are true. Not necessarily impossible. It does sound like they've been waiting for a good home for these two for a while, there's a chance they either won't be ready until after or the rescue will work with us on this since they're in foster, or we may still be able to pick them up as planned while getting that trip in, we've just got a lot of details to figure out now.

Anyway, on the point, yes, time and patience! :) Sebastian was incredibly shy too so we have some experience with the personality type, but it was evident from one meeting that they are not exactly the same kind of shyness and of course they are different dogs. Thank you for the advice, hanksimon! I wish we had known some of this stuff with Sebastian...

Patricia-- yes, no question, if Bear likes it, Sally will come look :) To a point anyway! She will get there, and for sure it will be different when it's just us. She can have whatever time she needs, we've got a whole room set up for the two of them to have a safe place... though I can't wait to see which spots she decides that she likes on her own.

Speaking of her timidity, we take relatively routine but not super frequent trips to see my parents and we drive and would always take Sebastian. Clearly we can't and wouldn't take new dogs on this trip too soon, and we have some options including J staying here with them and me going down sometimes, or before they're ready or whatever. But eventually we'll take them to New Jersey, do you have any tips on helping a dog as timid as Sally is being as comfortable as possible on a trip like that? For that matter, Bear will have to get used to the new location in his own ways, but he is so easygoing. Sebastian spent his first couple of years with Mom and Dad so he was already familiar with the house. The good news is that foster mom says they're great in the car.

So, clearly there are some things to figure out but we always find a way. Hopefully the shelter can be a little flexible on the exact pickup day (as can we, to an extent), tomorrow we will figure out what the deal is with the trip and if we even have to ask for much flexibility, and we'll keep on moving one way or the other.
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a good fitting non slip harness :)

There are people who own Pry's from pups and can't even get them to the vet. :) I am sure you will learn what your wondering about when you take them home and see how they behave. Bear is going to be Sally's rock not a breed that leaves what they are bonded to, having someone that will keep the dogs secure at the house is a good option,, Lots of Pyrs get transfered to new farms along with their flock and do just fine.

already having experience in the breed that is very aloof you should be fine.
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