Are You Sure You Want A Dog Like Marley?

John Grogan described his dog Marley as the World’s Worst Dog.  The truth is that Marley was not an innately bad dog, just one with a superior zest for life.  In my clinical work with sporting dogs, (Breeds used for hunting such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Short-haired Pointers) I have noticed there are two personality types; normal and super-charged.  The normal dogs are what we all think of . . . loving, gentle, calm and loyal.  Disobeying their human’s command is not an option.  I knew one Irish Setter named Hypo who exemplified this group.  While his family visited neighbors, his owner told Hypo to wait on the back step.  When the visit was over, they left through the front door without Hypo.  He waited on the back step until the next morning when his people realized their mistake!  He waited even though he could have walked home, entered the house through his doggy door and slept on a soft bed. 

A super-charged dog would never be able to do this.  Their energy would simply not allow them to stay put.  These dogs have a boundless enthusiasm for life and it never ends.  My own dog Susie is a super-charged Golden Retriever.  The first night in my house, she tried to jump into a fully loaded dishwasher.  When I called her to come, she streaked towards me at full speed.  I had to brace myself for her impact as she never put on the brakes soon enough.  Her stamina for retrieving is unbelievable.  Before osteoarthritis set in, she would fetch her toy out of the pool for hours on end.  She wore us out begging for throws.

Before adopting any breed of dog, do your homework and know what you are getting into.  Evaluate your situation and experience carefully.  In my view, super-charged dogs require owners with a flexible life-style, patience e.g., with the destruction of personal belongings and a lot of animal experience.  They are not good pets for first time dog owners.  Before adopting, research the dog’s background.  ‘Zest for life, high energy and endless curiosity’ are all code words for a super-charged dog.  With puppies, spend time with both parents and other relatives if possible.  Watch out for the puppy that is still playing when the others are asleep.  

Super-charged dogs like Marley can be wonderful pets . . . but only for the right people.  Most will not do well with a super-charged dog.   

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.