Firstly, sorry for my absence last week - add a cheeky foster puppy to the mix of an already busy household, and watch your spare time disappear into a black hole ;-)
Hopefully I have a new home lined up for her now, somewhere that she'll be happy and settled and become someone's ideal family dog.
Having her here has led me to thinking about why some dog's turn into once-in-a-lifetime dogs and others end up needing to move on and find a new home.
You see, lovely though Remi undoubtedly is, she wouldn't be my ideal dog - her breed characteristics would be sweet and funny were I to see them once a week in a training class. But they aren't what I would love to share my life with - just as some of my collie's quirky little ways wouldn't suit other people either.
You see, brilliant family dogs are a result of the right choice, the right timing and the right training.
Here's what you need to consider to find yours:
How much exercise do you want to commit to for the next 10 years? This is an essential element of owning a dog and if long hikes aren't for you then make sure the breed you choose wasn't bred to run and work all day long. They'll never be happy and as a result, neither will you.
Likewise if you'd rather be outside than in, choose a dog that will have the stamina to be able to match your passion - but be aware that working instincts need channelling so that you can enjoy your walks without your dog causing a nuisance to you or other people. This can take time and patience, but will be well worth it in the end :-)
How much time and money do you want to put into researching your dog's diet? Because that will undoubtedly have an influence on their behaviour and health. As a fan of raw food, I'd never want to return to feeding kibble but I appreciate it wouldn't fit every lifestyle.
Some breeds are notorious for their sensitive tummies and skin problems - these dogs would probably do better on a raw diet, but even then some may end up needing to be on expensive prescription diets. This is something worth asking your breeder or rescue centre about if a high maintenance diet isn't something you can commit to.
3. Physical Characteristics
So much of why people choose a particular breed comes down to what the dog looks like. But it's worth bearing in mind that the shape or coat of your future dog may mean that it requires a lot of daily work that you may have a lifetime of which to be looking after.
For example one of my good friends owns 3 Standard Poodles and 1 Miniature Poodle. Whilst her house is not covered in the same dog hair as mine because poodles don't shed their coats, each week she's bathing or clipping one or other of them - something she enjoys doing, but would seem like a lot of work to me!
4. Mental Characteristics
The British Kennel Club currently recognises 215 breeds (click here for more information) - each of them designed for a specific purpose, many of which are now unnecessary due to changing human lifestyles. That means that the dog you pick will have a heritage behind them which influences how they think and behave, with their own particular funny little ways.
Lovers of a certain breed embrace these quirks and delight in them, but also understand the need to channel a dog's natural desires for them to be happy and healthy. Meeting many adult dogs from the breed you're researching and speaking to their owners, perhaps even having one to stay, is a great way to find out if you're an ideal match.
Well trained dogs make living with a dog look simple - but I should be clear, it's not necessarily easy. Dog training, like any skill is something that gets better with purposeful practice and requires determination and patience to get right.
Training is our way of communicating to our dogs what we expect of them and what they can expect from us. Being consistent enough to earn the respect of your dog is a on-going task which must become a seamless part of your everyday interactions with them. In this way you can hope to enjoy a long and happy relationship with them, one which will warm your heart long after their physical presence has left your side.