A Dog for the Journey

To have a dog, or not… that is the question Phil and I have been pondering for quite some time. We look at their pictures on internet sites; cute, adorable, bundles of fluff and feel these little nippers pulling at our heartstrings, just begging to be held and cuddled.

Both of us love dogs and the companionship they bring into the lives of their humans. We have two elderly dogs who are ages 17 and 18 that will not be with us much longer so we have to decide… do we get a puppy now and have these wonderful, beloved pets train the new addition, or do we wait longer…

Pros of getting a puppy this year:

  • The puppy will learn the boundaries that the elderly dogs already know.
  • The puppy will experience socialization with other dogs and learn from them that the pet cat is a friend and the racoon is not…
  • AND since the mature dogs do not bark due to deafness, maybe the puppy won’t utilize its vocal chords as much! 😀

Cons of getting a puppy this year:

  • More dog doo-doo in the yard.
  • Traveling with a dog has its own challenges.
  • Some hiking trails do not allow dogs. 😦 *That’s the biggie for us.

When my Mom and I hiked the Grand Canyon, we came across a couple who had a Blue Heeler that had its own backpack and was so obedient, it didn’t even need to be leashed. I thought to myself that I would LOVE to have a dog like that to accompany me on my hikes. It’s comforting to have a pet that can alert us to dangers that we may never even know are there. (Mountain Lions, for example)

So, I’ve been researching the best breeds for hiking, traveling, and those that are perfect for families with children. Our grandchildren are at our house regularly so this dog must have a kid-loving personality.

The breed we choose needs to have these qualities:

  • Athleticism
  • Medium build for easier traveling
  • Energetic but not uncontrollable
  • Intelligent; willingness to learn
  • Obedient to voice commands
  • Loyalty to family with children
  • Protective but not overly aggressive

With the above-mentioned list of qualities in mind, I’ve narrowed down my search to these four dog breeds:

  • Australian Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Blue Heeler
  • English Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd was my first choice. As I searched for puppies on the internet, I fell in love with the beautiful variations in their coat colors, their blue eyes, their intelligence, and their size. They are a family dog that is loyal and protective of children. The one downside I could envision was the shedding of their very thick fur. So I kept on with the search…

The Border Collie is well known for it’s high energy and high aptitude for learning voice commands. The size was what I was looking for and their coats are not overly thick. As I looked for information on this breed, I learned that they have a high drive for herding and will nip at children’s heels as they run. They also are in high gear most of the time. The search went on…

The Blue Heeler is a work dog and is extremely loyal to its master, but can be aggressive towards other dogs and people. They are more aloof than the three other breeds but have the intelligence that would be needed on the trail. Shedding is going to be a factor in all of these breeds, but I know for a fact that Heelers shed year ’round because my friend has one. You can probably sense where I’m going with this. Yes, I saved the best for last. 🙂

The English Shepherd has every quality that I was looking for in a farm dog, companion, and hiking buddy. Phil and I met our first English Shepherd while camping at a State Park in Michigan last summer. As I sat outside the shower facility, waiting for Phil to finish his morning ritual, there was this gorgeous, silky, reddish brown and white, collie-type dog tied loosely to the railing along the sidewalk. She laid there patiently awaiting her master, never barking or acting upset or agitated. I wasn’t sure what kind of dog she was, assuming she must be a mixed breed because I couldn’t identify her pedigree. When her master came out of the shower room to retrieve her, I commented on what an obedient and beautiful dog she was.

It wasn’t long before we had the opportunity to stop by the owner’s campsite and inquire about the pretty lassie. He informed us that she was a registered English Shepherd and he had bought her from a farm in Indiana. An ENGLISH Shepherd??? I knew of Australian, German, Anatolian, and Belgian but had never heard of an English Shepherd!

He talked about how happy he was with her intelligence, disposition, and athleticism. She was his running partner and also followed along beside him while biking. He could leave her untethered in the campsite and she would not stray. She was friendly towards us, never growling or acting aggressive. Come to think of it, I never heard her bark once while we were camping!

Yes, the decision had been made. Now the search is on for that endearing, ball of fluff called the English Shepherd. They also come in a variety of colors and I haven’t seen an ugly one yet. 😉

We will be looking to bring a puppy home this fall, after most of our traveling is done, so that we can focus on socializing her with our grandchildren, current pets, and training. We are SO excited to have this new addition to our family and I feel confident that we have made the right choice!

If you have any experience with these dogs, please let me know in the comments below. Thank you for your input!


PS. These gorgeous dogs are found at these websites: https://sweetacreenglishshepherds.weebly.com/ https://tandceshepherds.wordpress.com/meet-the-dogs/

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