:Teresa asks…

Teresa wrote:

It’s Teresa from the TCLAC. The “pet” member! Julie suggested I contact you. My sweet Oscii is nearly blind from pigmentary keratosis. I’ve been considering adding another dog/puppy but Oscii is my first concern and the only reason I’m considering an addition, at this time, is I thought it might make her life better — I could be wrong…..

She gets along great at home and is very happy and of course slightly spoiled. I have a small city lot which she has memorized and never has trouble in the house unless I forget and move something. Also, I have no idea what age or sex would be best or even how to introduce a new dog to her. She gets along great with Dale & Jaki dogs –they are family- and has been staying with them when I’m out of town for years. Their dog Nickie(m) stays with us. Oscii & Nickie get along very well and Nickie understands Ocsii rules. MY concerns are that any new dog not challenge Oscii and/or make her life difficult. But I think she would maybe benefit from the companionship of another dog since I work full time at the university so she is alone any time I’m gone. I was thinking of taking a 9 month female puppy that Pauline has that I met this summer at the Specialty Show. She seemed very sweet and not aggressive at all. But I’m wondering if a younger puppy would be better?

Teresa, I’ve taken this to the blog because while your question is fairly specific, my answer – and hopefully follow-up discussion – may be of value to someone contemplating the addition of another dog.

I am a firm believer in (at least) two-dog households. Dogs are hard-wired with pack mentality. Dogs are social beings. Dogs benefit from the companionship of their own species, including being able to communicate within their species. Blindness adds another element to either management and/or training, but the overall benefits are worth the extra effort.

Each dog is an individual. I prefer to make decisions based on that individual’s qualities rather than if the dog is male or female. I groom dogs from a number of multi-dog households. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern of acceptance based on the various combinations of sexes – male & male; male & female; female & female.

My thoughts regarding a younger puppy being better, given Oscii’s blindness… probably not. One of the problems with blind dogs is their inability to ‘read’ another dog’s body language. Body language is the most important part of canine-to-canine communication. Young puppies, in their exuberance to play, not having yet learned all communication skills, will approach another dog ‘inappropriately’. Let’s play! Let’s play! Come on! Let’s play! The older dog may inform the young puppy that this isn’t play time. The puppy repeats the attempts. The older dog escalates the message. This is all normal dog interaction and should be allowed to happen. The problem I see with a blind dog and a young puppy is miscommunication, the blind dog becoming irritated because the puppy isn’t ‘hearing’. An older puppy – like Pauline’s female – has had more time to learn appropriate canine communication (assuming the dog lives with other dogs). 

The is no guarantee that another dog – no matter each dog’s apparent temperament – will not challenge Oscii. In my experience I have found that dogs will sort this out..and that usually doesn’t mean knock-down-drag-out fights. For example, you might simply see that Oscii now allows the new dog to sleep in her bed. Or take her favorite toy. This may be because the new dog ‘demanded’ it or it may be because they both agree to cooperate. Which ever case, both dogs came to the agreement. 

If you decide to bring Pauline’s puppy into your household, we can guide you through the introduction. If something isn’t working, between all of us we usually come up something that does!

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