Friday, July 20, 2012

Adopting a Second Dog--Challenges & Tips: An Interview with Author Peggy Frezon, Part 2

In part two of my interview with award-winning author Peggy Frezon, we are discussing the challenges of adding a second dog to your family, and the challenges of adopting an older dog.

Author Peggy Frezon with Kelly

Donna: Peggy, thank you for being with us again. Many people who have a dog, at one time or another, think about adding a second or third or fourth dog to their family. Not long ago, you adopted a brother for your dog Kelly. Why didn't the first attempt, with Moses, work out?

Peggy: We adopted a 6-year-old, 100 pound, beautiful Golden Retriever. The rescue group gave us a trial period of two weeks. From the start, Kelly did not want this big boy in her house. Moses was mellow and sweet, but he also wanted to be top dog in the house, and Kelly already knew she was top dog, so there were lots of conflicts. Kelly started lots of noisy altercations. She never hurt him, but it frightened me. Moses growled in response, instead of backing off, and I didn't want either one of them to get hurt. The happy news is that his foster mom was so excited to get him back, that she ended up adopting him! He gets along great with her own Goldens.

Brooks looks relaxed in his new home.

Donna: Soon after parting with Moses, you adopted Brooks. Most people who already have an older dog, adopt a puppy to avoid the risk of losing two dogs too close together. Why did you decide to adopt another senior dog?

Brooks and Kelly take Mike for a walk.

Peggy: It was largely my husband's doing. When he saw Brooks' picture, he just melted. Even though Brooks is eleven years old, he didn't think about the number at all. I was a bit more hesitant. I was worried about having my heart broken too quickly. But after we met Brooks, we knew we wanted to give him a nice home and lots of love and happiness in his senior years. No one has any guarantees how long they've got.

Donna: What were some of the challenges of bringing Brooks into your home where Kelly had been an "only child" for so long?
Kelly, no longer an only child

Peggy: It was all challenging! Kelly was jealous over any attention we gave Brooks, his food and water, his toys, where he slept. So, just about everything. She didn't like me patting him, or if he got up in the chair where I was sitting. She wouldn't allow him in the bedroom where she sleeps at night. At feeding time, we had to keep them separate or she would bark and push him away from his food. If he came anywhere near her food, she'd react even worse. About the only thing that went fairly well was walking them. But Brooks is so laid back, he just backs off. Her bossiness doesn't phase him. After a while, Kelly stopped being so noisy about it all. Now, she will still take a toy out of his mouth, for example, but she does it in a quiet and casual way. I tell her "no," and give the toy back and it is usually okay. I make sure to give them attention separately and together. We're all learning.

Donna: Do you have any tips for those contemplating adopting a second dog, especially one that is older?

Peggy: Consider your dog's personality and stage of life. If you have an older dog, don't adopt a rambunctious puppy who might pester and overwhelm the older dog unless you are sure you can keep them separate enough to give your older dog some quiet time. Also, it usually works best to adopt a dog of the opposite sex. If your dog is very assertive, and wants to be top dog in the house, adopt a dog who is more laid back and willing to defer.

Then, have your dogs first meet in a neutral place like a park. See how they respond to each other. If possible, see if the rescue group from which you're adopting, allows for a play date at your house, too. Introduce the new dog slowly. Give each dog time and space to adjust. Take them on lots and lots and lots of walks. A tired dog is a happy dog! Also, many trainers suggest that walking all together helps your dogs bond with you and together as a family or pack.

Donna: Have you seen a change in Kelly's or Brooks' attitudes and actions toward each other now that you've had Brooks for a while? Are they merely tolerant of each other, or are they forming a sibling bond?

Brooks and Kelly together

Peggy: Right now, it's somewhere in between. There are few flareups, but food might trigger a little scene. We are working to introduce toys so that Kelly will let Brooks have some fun and not keep trying to take the toys away from him. They both sleep in the same room with us, each in their own doggy bed. They run around the back yard together, and are basically together all day. I haven't really seen them play together yet, though. Then again, they are 10 and 11 years old, so they might not play as much as younger dogs would; but I'd like to see that happen. And they don't cuddle together, yet, but I've gotten them both in the chair with me at the same time. We've made a lot of progress, and I'm hoping to see them becoming closer as time goes on. It's only been two months.

Books by author Peggy Frezon 
Donna: Last time, we talked about your books, Heart to Heart, Hand in Paw, and Dieting with My Dog and how that was a bonding experience for you and Kelly. And today we talked about the challenges of adopting another dog and how to help the new dog bond with the rest of the family. Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?

Peggy: If you and your dog are trying to lose weight, seek out support from others. Walking your dogs together with family or a friend is a great way to bond, but also a great way to make losing weight more fun.

Donna: You have a book signing coming up soon in Burlington, Vermont. Can you tell us when and where you'll be?

Peggy: I will be signing books at Pet Food Warehouse, 2500 Williston Rd., in South Burlington, VT, on Friday, July 27, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

Donna: This is a great opportunity to meet Peggy, Mike, Kelly, and Brooks in person, and get a copy of each of Peggy's books. And if you already have them, bring them along and she'll be happy to sign them for you. And, once more, can you remind people where they can find your books besides at the book signing?

Peggy: If you'd like a signed copy, you can contact me directly by leaving a message on my blog or Facebook. Books can also be ordered on here: Dieting with My Dog and Heart to Heart, Hand in Paw.

Kelly says, "Can I pick the winner?"
Donna: I also want to remind everyone that we are giving away a copy of Peggy's book Dieting with My Dog to one lucky reader. To enter for a chance to win your own copy, complete the following 4 simple steps:
  1. Leave a comment or ask a question in the comment section below.
  2. Send me (Donna) an e-mail at PetWiseDBR (at) aol (dot) com with your name and e-mail address so I can contact you if you're the lucky winner. Put "Peggy's book contest" in the Subject line. If you win, I will send you an e-mail letting you know, and you can then send me your mailing address. Your personal information will only be used for the contest.
  3. Go to Peggy's Facebook page and click "Like" and leave a message saying you saw her interview on PetWise Online.
  4. Finally, leave another comment here confirming that you "liked" Peggy's page.
The contest will be open from midnight EDT July 13 through midnight EDT August 24, 2012. All qualified entries will be included in the drawing. You must be a resident of the US to be eligible. The winner will be contacted by e-mail following the close of the contest.

1 comment:

  1. I think that was one of the issues we had with our 2 cats when my now-husband and I first moved in together. I had Sylas, who was 8 years old at the time. He had Hector, who wasn't even a year. Sylas just wanted to lounge around and was extremely attached to me - he'd been the only "man" in my life for so long! Then not only did we have my actual man, but also a new cat. Hector wanted to play constantly and wanted to be in charge. Sylas had zero interest in playing, and was older so naturally wanted to be alpha. It took about a week before they'd even tolerate each other. They are better now but still have spats on occasion. Of course, brothers often do. :)