Friday, May 1, 2009

How many is too many?

A comment has spurned this post. I couldn't help it ... I just had to. This post is burning in my brain and I have to get it out there. You know, sort of like how money burns a hole in one's pocket? Ok, so I may not end up with a hole in my head, but some days ... well, let's move on.

I have a question to ask everyone out there ... How many is Too Many? Where is the line drawn? 2 dogs? 5 dogs? 12 dogs? 50 dogs? How many is too many?

Take this as you will. Yes, I am an opinionated person and am learning how to accept responsibility for my opinions. Here's my take on it.

I have found that often, people take in one dog at a time to 'save' it from its current circumstances ... then they take one more and one more and the next thing they know, they have 20 dogs and they're lucky to have enough resources to feed them all. You may not even realize you have a problem until it's too late ... If you do this, you are an asshat.

1. If you can't afford the vet bills and food for all your dogs, you have too many. If that means you can't afford the bills for one dog, then one is too many for you.

2. If you don't have time to train all the dogs you have, then you have too many. Each of your dogs should have 20 minutes of one on one time with you at least a few times a week.

3. If you have too many dogs, you are a hoarder and you are perpetuating the problem! Say the following statement to yourself ... "Hello, my name is yournamehere and I have a hoarding problem" Admitting to yourself that you have a problem is the first step towards wellness.

Those are my comments and my opinion. Short and sweet and to the point. A little vague if you were looking to me to tell you exactly how many is too many. I won't do that. It all depends on the person and their circumstances.

I have 3 perma-dogs and one foster, that makes 4. Some people would tell you that four is too many. If I didn't take the foster, I could probably do two perma-dogs (the fosters are more work than perma-dogs because I don't take normal ones). This is my choice. What's yours?

How many is too many?


DawgDyke said...

I have 3. I've thought about 4 and realize that is too many for me. My 3 are spoiled rotten and happy.

I honestly think it depends on the person/family and their resources. Anywhere from 2 to 8.

Cyndi and Stumpy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cyndi and Stumpy said...

Right now, all I can handle financially is one. It's hard for me to have only one dog, so I borrow my son's dog and other friend's dogs for extended visits.

Personally, I had up to 5 dogs, with 2 or 3 being permanent rescues, too challenged to place.

I think the number has to be an individual call, based on resources and logistics. I have to remind myself, FREQUENTLY, that one is all I can handle at the moment. It would be too easy to get in over my head with all the beautiful animals being tossed out like the days trash.

Fred said...

There used to be this guy in the neighbourhood who had a pack of German Shepherds, like 5 - 8 depending on if he walking anyone else's dogs as well. I never saw him without his dogs. He'd walk them around all over, all off leash, scaring the bejeezus out of most people but amazingly enough the dogs were always well behaved. They all walked beside or behind him. They all stopped at every curb. They never ran off after other dogs, squirrels, cars.

Personally, I thought he was crazy to walk with his dogs like that in a busy Toronto neighbourhood but as far as I know, he never had a problem with them. He was quite the neighbourhood fixture.

He did have other problems, though, personal issues, financial issues as well probably, and eventually had to give away his dogs one by one. The last time I saw him, before he moved out of the area, was over two years ago. He was walking alone.

Splash said...

Personally, I prefer at least two dogs, as I work all day and I think it is better for the dogs to have a buddy.

However, I limit myself to two "retirees", and one that is the dog of the moment. The retirees get walkies and trick training. "The" dog gets most of my training time. Right now, the retirees are Splash and sweet Jewel (who only ever wanted to be a house dog). The Border Collie, Ki, is the dog-in-training, and he is taking most of the training budget.

I spend about $100 a month on agility classes. I train obedience and rally on my own.

Training treats add up though: last week Ki got cheese sticks, flank steak, chicken, hot dogs, Wellness treats, and some kitten food. Training treats probably cost me $30/month! Yikes!

mytwh said...

We had Ziggy for 4.5 years as our only dog and I was terrified to get another one! We lived in a small apartment and so Ziggy was perfect, just him. My parents lived next door so he'd go next door and play with my dads dog, so he had a buddy.

We recently bought a house (6 months or so ago) and now have 5 acres. It was time for a new dog! Well, it took me till 2 weeks ago to finally take the plunge. I kept waffling on the fence. I wanted another dog now that Ziggy had lost his buddy and we've always wanted a bigger dog, but it was such a huge committment! We went to the shelter 2 weeks ago and found the most amazing boy. I'm glad we waited and found the perfect one. He fits into our lives seamlessly and is such a joy.

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but 2 is our limit. Financially but also time wise. I wish more people would really take the time to think about it before they got 1 dog or added others. I think if everyone really put some thought into it, they would have the right number. But honestly, I can't imagine how anyone could care and love and exercise and train more than 5. I think 5 is a lot. 2 is good for me.

mytwh said...

To qualify why I was "terrified"-it wasn't because of getting another dog itself, it was the life changes that would occur with any new addition to the family.

OldMorgans said...

When I saw your question, my answer to my self was "It Depends" and it depends on each person's circumstances.
I have not had dogs since 2005. My cats do not want a house dog and I cannot do justice to a dog. So for me, one dog would be too many.
I have had nine dogs in my adult life and they all overlapped until I was down to my last dog. I had 5 at once for a while. It worked at that time.
It is sad that far too many people never ask themselves the question of this post.

A Mom's Choice said...

You have a lot of great points. Too many people get over zealous with too many pets. My daughter is a avid dog lover. she's wants to be a pet trainer. She's working on a book about dogs etc. Right now she's gathering information. If people love pets so much they want 20, they would be more of an asset if they volunteer at the shelter. Some dogs are not good for certain families. A little researcg goes a long way.

*Amber* aka Suzy SINsation said...

It absolutely depends on the person and their circumstances.

I have 3 permanent dogs, and currently have a momma staffie and her NINE puppies. THAT is a lot of work.

P.S. I think fostering for a competant organization is a great way to enjoy more dogs without more financial responsibility if you have the time but not the funds.

GoLightly said...

Great post.

It surely depends on the owner.

You said it:)

I'm very glad we got a Blaze puppy buddy for Flip. Coming from a kennel, she couldn't figure out where the heck all the other dogs were, when we got her home.
Two is enough for me.

Shari Thomas said...

When I lived in Oregon, I had only my Finnish Spitz, and she was quite lonely, having been a "kennel dog".

I moved to Utah to join friends who at the time had 5 dogs, all much larger than my dog.

A few months later, we had to put the oldest Chocolate Lab down. She was in her mid-teens, and had been one of my friend's son's hunting dog. When she went deaf, he didn't feel safe using her to hunt.

Now we have a 5-dog pack and that's a good number.

Just today, we were offered a Black Lab puppy and the discussion immediately turned to "which dog would we have to give up" in order to get the puppy.

Now, we also have 3 horses, and often look longingly at the wild horses... but, which horse would we give up?

Flo said...

I think you make some good points. If you can't afford food, vet bills, and the time for the dogs you have you definitely have too many.

In my experience going from one dog to two is a huge jump, but going from two to three to four is not so hard. I've had four at one time and they have gradually died off. Now we are down to one and awaiting a foster.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Dawg - the important thing is realizing that you're where you should be. I find anything more than 4 is more than I want to deal with. Probably if our 4th wasn't the constant foster, it would be different.

GSC - It is really easy to get in over our heads. "Just one more". I have to always be careful not to fall for it.

Fred - that's unfortunate that he ended up in such dire circumstances. I know a GSD breeder who has that sort of relationship with his dogs. I find GSD's are easier to keep close because of their natural instincts. Many of the dogs I have go through here are GSD's ... they have a different type of personality than most dogs. People aren't prepared for it.

Splash - that's a great way to do it. A friend of mine who has 4 dogs only has one dog that is "The One" at the moment. She competes in herding and agility with him and the others come along for the ride. I think that's a great way to do it!

mytwh - Congratulations on the new member of your family!! Thank you so much for sharing your story! IMHO You are right to be 'terrified' when bringing a new dog home. Your life is changing and it's hard to predict exactly which direction it is going to go. I'm a control freak (in case you hadn't noticed) and I go through a terrified time with each dog - it doesn't matter that I've done it a bunch of times; each is different and each will change your direction ever so slightly.

OldMorgans - great answer!

A Mom's Choice - I'm glad your daughter knows which direction she would like to go already! What wonderful news. I knew someone who needed to have 20+ pets ... man did their apartment stink! And you know what? When the landlord gave them two days to get rid of them, guess who ended up with the aggressive dog?

Amber - any amount of puppies is a lot of work! Yikes. Fostering is also a great way to figure out if your family is capable of increasing the canine numbers by one. Like a trial run.

GoLightly - I find the common number for people is two. Many normal dog owners I know aim for two. So many reasons, so little space!

Shari Thomas - good point. So many people don't think about who they would have to give up if they took one more than their limit. It's not a nice thing to have to think on, but it's something people conveniently forget in the view of a 'new puppy'.

Flo - yes, you're right. The leap from one to two is bigger than the one from two to three. I find the "only dog syndrome" to be a cause, but also the people find it more difficult to manage their time/attention when they aren't used to breaking it up.