It's been nearly a year since our Bearded Collie Cannon died suddenly. For a variety of reasons, we have put off bringing a new puppy or dog into our family, but it's starting to feel like the right time.
We've been going back and forth about what we might get this time - rescue a mixed breed versus get a purebred puppy.
We absolutely love Kochi, our Shiba Inu mix who was rescued from Okinawa, Japan, where he was a street dog. We've had both purebred and mixed breeds over the years, but starting out with a puppy, we'll likely deal with a reputable (read "excellent") breeder who is dedicated to breeding the best dogs possible, with the physical, temperament and personality characteristics we want.
We both really love Bearded Collies, but I really want a short or shorter-haired dog that doesn't require the same amount of grooming. At this point in my life, I'm looking for simplification, and that includes relative ease of grooming.
English Mastiffs, which I bred for about 20 years, are very close to my heart and certainly don't require as much grooming. But I'm not sure I want a dog of that giant size. I well-remember gaiting next to my last Mastiff, Shura - who wasn't huge; she was only about 150 pounds - shortly before my 40th birthday. As we ran together, she playfully gave me a hip check that threw out my back. I ended up prone on the couch, nearly unable to move without help for a couple of weeks, including my birthday.
I've considered a Landseer Newfoundland - slightly smaller than a Mastiff - but again there's grooming, not to mention a drool issue. While I know it is possible to have a giant dog that doesn't drool (my Mastiffs had what is known as a "tight mouth" and didn't drool), it's more likely that a Newfie will need mouth mopping.
I particularly like Papillons, but the man-of-the-house doesn't want a toy dog. I ran Corgis by him, and even though they think they're giant dogs and he likes them, he thinks they're too small, too.
I used to have Vizslas, and I love many of the sporting breeds. We had a Springer spaniel that taught us a lot and a Basset hound that was loads of fun - not to mention several mixed breeds - but while we loved our dogs, neither breed is on our short list at this time.
Because finding the right breeder is just as important as finding the right breed, I've been in touch with several breeders over the past few months. Everyone I've corresponded with has been extremely forthcoming, and I'm happy to see that there seems to be an increase in bright, knowledgeable people breeding good dogs - at least of the breeds and breeders that we've considered.
Before you write to me about how mistaken I am about any of the breeds I've mentioned, or to lobby for your own breed, I'm happy to hear from you, but I think we're nearing a decision. I'll let you know what that is as soon as it's been settled. Stay tuned.
Gail Fisher, author of "The Thinking Dog," runs All Dogs Gym & Inn in Manchester. If you would like a topic addressed in this column, email email@example.com or write c/o All Dogs Gym & Inn, 505 Sheffield Road, Manchester, NH 03103. You'll find past columns on her website.