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Yay!

For first timers, especially when you have so much for the dog to fit into (kids, cats, etc.), I recommend an adult rescue. Puppies are cute, but they are a lot of work. Housetraining takes months, bite inhibition training takes a while, then there's teething, the short attention span, the list goes on.

Go to petfinder.com and type in your zip code. Then contact the rescues and shelters in your area, and tell them what you told us. A shelter or rescue that fosters their dogs can tell you what dogs would be right for you and your family.

Note: People say the only way to get a dog to be okay with cats/kids is to raise them with the cats/kids from a puppy. This is not true. A dog's temperament isn't set until adulthood, usually around 2-3 years. Just as with humans, temperament as an adult can be vastly different from temperament as a puppy, and temperament in a dog is largely genetic. You're better off getting an adult whose temperament is already set so you don't have to worry about what might pop up in 2 years.

Good luck!
 

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Thanks for the advice everyone. I think that we are leaning a bit away from a puppy at this point (good advice to go with a rescue group) and away from the smaller dogs like a Bichon. I have been on petfinder...very helpful site. We're starting to think about a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel...they are very sweet! I LOVE the border collies, but heard that they often try to herd the kids? Do children make them nervous? What is their energy level like as well?
Cavs are awesome dogs, but look up syringomyelia. It's very common in cavs, as are heart murmurs, so you need to be aware of it.

Border collies aren't scared by children, they tend to view children as sheep to be herded. BCs herd by using their stare to get the sheep to move where they want. If the sheep fail to obey, the BC escalates to nipping the ankles. This is a problem with children, because children get freaked out by the stare and attempt to run away. Then the BC nips the child's ankles, which scares the child even more and then things really get out of hand. This is one of the reasons you see so very many BCs in rescue.

It depends upon how obedient your children are. If you tell your children not to run from the dog, will they hold still, or will they freak out and run anyway?

The other reason you see so many BCs in rescue is BCs are incredibly intelligent. Intelligent dogs are harder to manage and people dump them in shelters rather than try to handle a dog that can open locked garbage cans and doors and get into anything and everything. You need to decide if that's something you can deal with or not. It's not impossible to deal with such a dog (my last dog was like this), but it's not the easiest thing ever, either.
 
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