“Did you get a big dog or is it another rat? … I just thought you guys would want a big dog for your lifestyle.” Said to Jordon when he told his brother we were going to pick up a puppy. Yes, really.
Okay, the shortest version is that I chose another Schipperke because I love this breed. But there’s also more to it. We started talking about adding a second dog three or four years ago. We decided on 2018, if we still wanted a second dog by the end of 2017 (we did, obviously). 2018 was supposed to be more financially secure (ha!), and Jordon would be taking a year off school so we’d have more time to dedicate to a puppy. All that waiting gave me a lot of time to consider different breeds.
I spent a long time trying to decide between a second Schipperke, a Kelpie, or a Groenendael. I always came back to the Schips, but there was that nagging voice at the back of my head telling me to get a larger breed. I actually have my neighbour to thank for making up my mind. I was basically set on a Groenendael, and hopefully I wouldn’t have regretted that choice had I made it, but when he asked me if they were big dogs and I said they were he responded with “oh, good.” The way I felt about that made me realize my decision was at least in part determined by societies expectations of the type of dog I should want. And I want to do better than that.
When I first began to seriously consider adding a second dog I had already decided one of the determining factors needed to be that I was finished learning to own one dog. That I had enough skill training one dog to begin learning to train two. Because, whoo boy, there’s nothing like a new puppy to make your feel like a rank amateur starting from scratch. But I’d forgotten about my other plan. When I got Suki I wanted to prove that little dogs are at least as capable as big dogs. I thought about the time I had watched a Malinois trample up and down a mail conveyor belt in search of narcotics or contraband, nearly falling off the narrow ledge as he knocked packages everywhere. I had thought a nimble little dog would have been a better choice, if only ego could be set aside. My neighbour’s response reminded me that I hadn’t accomplished that yet. I still needed to put my money, or my actions, where my mouth was. And I’m not a quitter.
After considering that I remembered why I love having a small dog. Traveling anywhere, there’s never been a question of whether Suki will fit or if she can come with us. When we hiked the Stawamus Chief there were lots of large dogs along the lower areas, but to reach the second peak you had to squeeze through the narrow cliff and climb a ladder. The only dogs at the top were Suki, a Rat Terrier, and a Maltese/Poodle-type mix. And yes, the little 6-ish pound dude did everything but the ladder himself and absolutely rocked it. Never having to worry if I’ll be able to manage a hike with my dog is fantastic. Or, my favourite tongue-in-cheek way of putting it: You don’t buy the 2-liter bottle of shampoo to travel.
I have zero regrets about my decision. Roe is absolutely rocking it and every day, in some way or another, he reminds me how much I made the right choice. I don’t know if I could say the same had I chosen otherwise. But I guess that’s why we took the time to put so much thought into our decision. Regardless of what we were told we should want.