Our furry companion of the last 8 years came to us from our younger daughter who relocated and was not able to bring her dog on the flight to Oregon. L was not happy. She commented, “If I’d wanted a dog I’d have had a dog.” In little time she fell in love. The two went through Therapy Dog training, were certified and made visits to nursing homes for several years.
Turtle, our daughter’s dog, became our dog. She was a Siberian Husky / Australian shepherd mix that our daughter picked out of box of pups in front of a K-Mart. She was the smartest dog I’ve ever known, and we've had a German Shepherd / Collie mix and a Labrador Retriever.
About a year ago we realized that she was almost totally deaf, and had kidney failure.. A few months back she developed Canine Cognitive Dysfunction which is sort of the doggy equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, we took her to the vet and helped her depart this world.
L has been almost inconsolable due to a combination of grief and guilt. (She feels like she murdered our friend.)
We talked about getting another dog, but we are in our mid-70s, and a dog may outlive us.
An assessment of the dogs we’ve had, and the breeds, or breed mixes led us to the belief that the dogs that worked best for us were all of the Herding Dog group. We had some hunting breed dogs, but they were, except for the Labrador Retriever and Boykin Spaniel, not very suitable as house pets for older couples. The bottom line was that we thought we might consider a Mini Aussie. I found that the miniature Aussies are now a recognized breed and are called Miniature American Shepherds. I contacted a breed rescue group, but we decided to wait before sending our application in.
Australian Shepherds come in several colors which are in part due to the "merle" gene. The merle gene creates a change in the way colors are expressed and the resultant merle coats are beautiful. Unfortunately, a "double dose" of the merle gene can produce puppies with deafness, blindness and other issues. Aussies, large and small, are rescued for many reasons including health problems. They are a herding breed with a lot of energy that has to be directed toward something non-destructive. They do well in Agility competition, as farm dogs, and various "frisbee" type sports.
Yesterday we were coming down the road to our house and came upon a beautiful Aussie in the road. I got out to play with what I took for a puppy to keep her out from under the wheels of the car, and she followed me home. We had never seen the dog before, and found that she belonged to a neighbor who called her home.
We talked with the neighbor about the fact that we were considering a mini Aussie and the owner told us that he and his wife had been looking for a good home for the dog. The family has another dog, a preschool age son and, with both parents working, just haven't had enough time to spend with a young dog.
Mollie came to live with us last night. At about a year, she has been living outside, isn’t house broken, and isn’t very well socialized, but she seems to be a quick learner. She looks like a miniature, but both parents were full size Australian Shepherd dogs. We have plenty to do for a while.
(Note that Mollie is on the bed. L has never let a dog on the bed before. The new puppy didn't ask. She just jumped up on it. Compared to our now deceased senior dog, she is a whirling dervish.)