Well, she's turning 1 in September. She's gone from this:
An I can now say that she was arguably the best decision we made last year. The vote is still out, but she's a definite contender for greatest dog ever.
That's not to say there haven't been challenges. Leash training this dog nearly killed me. I gave up several times before we finally figured out how to "heel". We also had to work thru teething, and the loss of several of the kids toys; digging, and the loss of several rows of my garden; house training, which definitely contributed to the loss of our carpets; and the over-all Aussie neediness and stubbornness.
But she's a year old now, and we are out of the puppy stage, we're even out of the even worse 7-9 month stage (the age at which most "owner surrenders" are taken to the pound- aka doggie teens). Things with Claudia this summer have been decidedly...wonderful.
She has become my true partner. Following me like a shadow, in true Aussie style. She knows all her basic commands, her "sit" and "stay" and "come" and "drop it". She waits her turn to go out the door, and heels on our nightly walk, stopping at every crosswalk and ignoring barking dogs. I can leave the front door open while I unload groceries and know that she wont wander off.
Better yet, I can send her into the front yard while the boys ride their bikes and trust her to bark every time they step into the road, or ride further then their allowance.
Aussies are famous for needing a job to be happy, and Claudia has certainly found her job. She's a stricter mommy then even I am, and tells the boys off every time they fight, and tattles ever time they are naughty. Zeke opened the back gate the other day and went into the alley- and I knew it within 10 seconds.
And dare I say it? We have enjoyed her so much that I've been keeping my eyes out this week for another dog. Because I will admit the one thing that Claudia could improve on is more ability to entertain herself, and more confidence when left alone.
I'm being picky. I want a dog, not a puppy. Something between 1-4.
It doesn't have to have impeccably trained, or even trained at all; but it does have to be well socialized- with kids, dogs, and cats. Because we have all of the above, and they are all too precious to me to risk anything.
We want it to be somewhere around Claudia's size. A small medium to medium sized dog, about 25-50 pounds.
Ideally we'd like another herding breed, or mix of herding breed. An aussie, or a collie, or a sheepdog. They have their downsides, and oh boy do we know them better then anyone. But they are downsides we are familiar with- and there is something to be said for that. And they are downsides I can deal with. I can take a dog that will constantly try to dominate, and requires constant attention- a dog that digs however...
So obviously we know that there are certain breeds we aren't interested in at all- no pit bulls, no huskies, no chows or labradors, no beagles or daschunds or for that matter any type of hound. No terriers. It's not necessarily that those are bad breeds, they just aren't a good fit for us. I know several lab owners, for example, that adore their dogs. Obviously that leaves quite a few breeds we are just plain unfamiliar with- spaniels for example. Or what to do when a breed we like is mixed with a breed we don't, a husky/collie for example. We will cross those bridges when it comes.
We'd prefer a male over a female. Because getting two dogs of opposite sex to get along is a lot easier then two dogs of the same.
We'd prefer it to be neutered, because it's expensive and we feel very, very, strongly that all dogs should be.
We need it to be cheap(ish), hopefully even from a rescue. We have financial and moral issues with paying 100's of dollars to a breeder for a family dog.
But mostly we are waiting to fall in love. It certainly worked last time.