At some point, most people think about it, getting another dog. We did, for years. My husband grew up in a multi-dog household and we thought Blackspot would like some company. It wasn’t until we moved to Hong Kong, living in Discovery Bay, with a bit of a yard, that we seriously talked about it.
I was already volunteering with Hong Kong Dog Rescue and every time I was at the kennels, I just wanted to take them all home….if only I could. A dog misses out on a home not because he is not a good dog. It’s timing. It’s luck. As with so many rescues and rehoming centres, there simply are too many dogs to choose from. Many potential adopters go with a set idea of what a perfect dog is (and more often than not it’s a purebreed dog).
Choosing a dog is not always easy. Choosing a second dog usually has even more parameters. We were looking for ultra easy-going. Integrating a puppy would have been the easiest but Blackspot was already six and we wanted a similarly aged dog. A puppy would have disrupted her quiet laid back life. And frankly I just didn’t want to go through the potty training and teething. Above all, we wanted it to be Blackspot’s choice.
One day, at the end of my shift, my husband came with Blackspot. I chose who I thought would be good candidates – Mark (black lab cross), McClusky (husky), Tom (wire-haired cross breed), Cornish (white mixed breed), Linda (golden retriever), and Castro (golden mixed breed). It was hard to pick just six dogs but any more would have been too overwhelming for Blackspot. It was only the first run, we thought.
I wasn’t actually there for the meet-ups. I was busy bringing the dogs in and out of the kennels. Our trainer was interviewing my husband and Blackspot and supervised. I was later told that Blackspot simply got up and walked away when she met Mark, a really big boisterous boy. Tom, on the other hand, was scared of Blackspot. Cornish was so excited he jumped up and kicked my husband in the groin. Castro, the youngest at two, was a little too hyper. It sounded like quite a comedy.
Once narrowed down to two, I came back into the picture. McClusky, a husky I had just tested with our trainer for prey drive and Linda, who last minute had joined our three-woman-three-dog walk earlier that week.
We decided to walk Blackspot with Linda first. She was my preference, even though we were told a male would be an easier fit. It was simply a matter of size. I needed a dog I could pick up. At 39kg, Blackspot was too much for me. Having two dogs meant that I would have to be able to pick up the second dog in case of emergency. All hands on deck. Man-on-dog coverage.
All reasoning aside, it was really the playbow Linda showed Blackspot that put her at the top of the list. It was the deciding moment.
We took the two dogs around the block, stopping several times along the way for treats. Both sat patiently waiting for their turn. No bullying, badgering, aggression or dominance. A good sign. And I think it was decided on that walk that Linda would come home with us.
Linda was really social, dog-and people-friendly, and affectionate. Being seven she would need less exercise than a four-year old husky, who I knew would take hours to tire, a tricky thing in a climate like Hong Kong’s. Her big doe-eyes and constantly-wagging tail cinched the deal.
Linda was a completely unexpected choice. It was a case of reverse breedism. We didn’t even think to consider a purebreed. We knew how much harder it was for a mixed breed to be adopted. We are always happy whenever any dog is homed but I think secretly we are all much more thrilled when an older dog or a mixed breed gets chosen. It’s a triumph against the odds.
I’m always disappointed when someone comes looking for a particular breed. For some people, their preference comes from having grown up with one. For most, it’s the perception of what that particular breed is. What people don’t realize is the amount of irresponsible breeding and inbreeding that take place to meet market demands. This means dogs with poor temperament and poor health are being bred, destabilizing the genetic lines. I always suggest adopting a dog, and not the breed.
So ironically that day I learned the lesson I was trying to teach. Blackspot made the choice and we adopted Linda. She just happens to be a pedigree and we shouldn’t hold that against her. But with Linda, we came to love the breed. She embodies the best qualities of a Golden Retriever and we are lucky to have her in our lives.
With Linda, we all started a new chapter in life and with that, she was renamed and became affectionately known as Creamy.