Until last week I had two dogs, one an over 13-year female purebred lab, the other a rescued neutered around 4-year old male Catahoula. My lab went from still acting like a pup to dying of metastasized cancer all over her body within two weeks. Her last vet checkup and bloodwork were just fine. I am still stunned and get weepy every time I think of her.
I rescued (from the streets) and kept the Catahoula with much trepidation knowing he was a working breed, needed more attention than I could likely give him and knowing he probably belonged on a small farm with a family with full-time kids. The Catahoula loves people—especially babies and kids. He’s a love slut with a preference for children. The dog park is simply an opportunity to love people. He is quite the charmer when he looks at a person with his soulful doggie eyes, and delights in petting. He’ll stand or sit there as long as someone will pet him. He loves me too, but I am not sure he is more attached to me than any other human that will pet and feed him. This dilemma isn’t because he is not loving—he’s very loving—just completely indiscriminate and fickle.
I kept him mostly because he got a ton of exercise and attention from the lab. She was the love of his life, and he kept her young and active. He was her dog, but I certainly like him a lot especially now that his destructive puppy-phase is over.
Now the lab is gone, he does seem confused as to where she is. Sure that is anthropomorphizing a bit, but he looks through the house and backyard at all her favorite hangouts and then comes to me and whimpers demanding attention.
I know now is not the time to make a decision, but I do need to start thinking about the future for the Catahoula.
My kids are around part-time—not enough to be company for him. I have a large backyard for the area I live with squirrels and other critters to try to fuss at. Inside the house he has cats to chase and good-naturedly lose to once swatted. I can manage at least one good walk a day (3 miles) or two shorter walks. Agility training would be great, but I simply don’t have the time. We go to the dog park most weekends, and when it gets warmer, he can play fetch in the pool. But I know he would be so much happier with more attention.
So, the time will come that I will need to make a decision for both of us as to his future. I really don’t want to get a new dog (at the moment, and, of course in another month perhaps I will). If I get another dog it will have to be a lab. To me, they are my perfect breed, but I won’t pay for another one again—rescue/adoption only. If I keep the Catahoula, a new dog will have to be an older female lab. I would not get a new dog and not keep the Catahoula.
Do I foster some labs through the local lab rescue knowing he will have company and maybe one of them will be a failed foster dog? Do I conscientiously contact the lab rescue, list my requirements, and watch available dogs on their website? Or, do I try to find the Catahoula another home?
The issue with finding the Catahoula another home would be making sure he goes to a responsible home with land and kids. Catahoulas are often used for hunting wild hogs, and I’m adamantly opposed to using him this way. There are rescues for them, but I would apparently have to turn him over and let them pick the best home with the local place that would probably take him. I haven’t made any formal inquiry as it is much too soon. There would be no way of knowing who he goes to or how long he would be simply available.
Other than the “too soon to decide” opinion that I absolutely agree with, what alternatives or additional questions for me or for me to research do you have to help decide when it is necessary? Is there something I am completely missing? I don’t want the Catahoula to be miserable and neurotic before I make a decision, and any decision needs to be made mostly in his best interest.
Thank you for your input.