Sunday, September 06, 2015

OPD Syndrome

Dax in his older but still full-sighted years.
It has been 18 months since our beloved dog Dax left us. Ever since then, the girls have been suffering from what is known as OPD Syndrome. It's characterized by an overpowering need to visit with every dog you see on a walk, to the point that you will cross the street to be on the same side as a dog you see coming, just so you can visit with it.

My friend Nicole's sweet older dog eventually warmed up to their new puppy Kenai.
School friends who own dogs are visited more frequently than those without, and my girls spend more time with their family dog than with their friend.

OPD Syndrome is more commonly known as Other People's Dogs syndrome. 

The only cure? To get a dog of your own.

Ruby, who has found a forever home with my friend Missy and her family.
The start of school this year was particularly stressful for our family. Wayne was home for the first day of school but was on a business trip the rest of the week. One day I came home to find both girls in tears for different reasons. I spent the evening reassuring one, emailing the teacher for the other, reassuring the other, getting everyone fed and so forth. Both girls asked if they could see a dog that evening.

We called a friend and asked if we could take their dog on a walk, to which she readily agreed. When we stepped out the door our next door neighbor was out front with his dog, an intimidating looking mix of Chow and something else big and muscular. Hank the Tank sat in front of Lindsey for some petting, leaning against her more heavily the more she rubbed. Eventually he laid down and let her rub his tummy. Such a tough guy. 

We went on our way and walked Mae, the sweetest goldendoodle and best walker ever. We returned from the walk feeling a bit better, but still not great.

Has anyone see Mae?
After Wayne came back from his trip, he and I were discussing the situation and how both girls were seeking out companionship with dogs during this stressful time. For the first time since Dax died, the conversation opened up to the possibility of getting a dog.

Before I knew it, it had leaked to the girls that we had been having this discussion, and we were being worked on. Promises were being made, lists of all the benefits of dog ownership. We had a family discussion about those promises.

Yes, you SAY you'll walk the dog after school, but when it's 10 below out, are you really going to? And we had a very real discussion about how we know we will outlive the dog. All of our hearts were broken when Dax died -- would the benefits of dog ownership outweigh the eventual heartache? The collective answer was yes. We've drawn up a contract for all family members to sign outlining responsibilities, turning those promises into action. So we hope.

Now the search is on for a rescue to fit into our family. People ask me what we're looking for in a dog. More than likely we'll get a mixed breed, and are just as concerned with temperament as physical features.

  • No more than 35-40 lbs
  • Preferably between 2 and 5 years of age (We are not up for puppy energy)
  • Does not need grooming, preferably short-haired
  • Low to moderate energy (a daily walk is all it needs, not a 7-mile run)
  • Loves companionship and wants to cuddle
  • Good with other dogs
  • Trainable

We're most interested in fostering a dog through Second Hand Hounds or other organizations like that, where dogs are placed in foster homes until forever homes can be found. What a great way to ensure that the dog fits within your family before committing to adoption.

Hard to believe that we may once again had a four-legged family member.

Rocky says "Don't worry!" It'll all work out.

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