Think Ahead When Adding Dogs to Your Family


Back in 1998, we were a happy one dog family, made complete by the light of my life dog, Axel, a grand Bouvier des Flandres. So why did I have to mention in passing to his groomer, a woman active in Bouvier rescue, that maybe we’d like to add another?

It wasn’t long before we got a call about Jolie, a sweet, pushy, two-year-old rescue Bouvier, ready for home number three. How could we say no? Axel, at the time, was two-and-a-half years old.

Could I not do the math? I really don’t recollect the notion ever popped into my head that these two dogs were virtually the same age. While that was fabulous at the time and for many years, my mind didn’t travel 10+ years into the future when not only would I be dealing with living with two large breed senior dogs, I would possibly be dealing with losing two senior dogs, not too far apart.

Axel made it to his 14th birthday and beyond this year, only to succumb to a swiftly moving hemangiosarcoma in July. Jolie is still with us, and hit the 14 mark in November. She’s hobbly due to arthritic knees, courtesy of double partial cruciate tears, and continues to receive the melanoma vaccine after a diagnosis a year and a half ago, but otherwise, is fairly vibrant.

Time is healing the intense pain we experienced after losing Axel, but when Jolie went through a horrific bout of vestibular syndrome in late September, I sobbed to a friend, “I’m not ready.”

I know that we can lose our dogs at any time, and there was always the chance that one would leave us far before the other. While we don’t regret bringing Jolie into our world, I doubt I will ever again have two dogs, particularly of the same size and breed, so close to each other in age.

Do you think about this issue when you add a dog to your family? Do you purposely “diversify your portfolio” with dogs of differing ages? Or do you graciously open your heart and your home to whoever comes your way, regardless of age?