We have always been a "pets" family.
For the last several years, we lived in a rental with a pretty strict pet policy, so we were down to just one dog. We could have had some caged critters, but I'm not particularly fond of caged critters. They aren't really entertaining, and you generally can't snuggle up with them in bed on a cold winter night.
In March, our beloved dog of a great many years had to be put down. She had a stroke, and could not support her own weight. She couldn't relieve herself or chew her food properly. There were several treatment procedures that could have been done, but at her age, they were all maybes. We chose not to have her go through any more pain and had her put to sleep.
Mr. Sullivan was particularly close to the dog. He'd had her longer than he's had me. I knew it would be awhile before we would be looking for another dog.
Within a few months after losing the dog we bought our house, and immediately made plans for some cats. We have a house in the middle of the boonies that had sat vacant for months. We figured that mice and such would be an issue, so I wanted to have cats in the house right away to help take care of that problem. We had a friend whose cat had recently had kittens, and made arrangements to take two of the male kittens once they were weaned.
About three days after we started moving in, we got a phone call from the friend with the kittens; mama cat was tearing into food packages and if I didn't take all the cats (minus one she would be keeping to replace one of hers that ran away) today she would be taking them to the animal shelter. My kids had already gotten quite attached to the kittens we planned on taking, so I said yes. Mama cat was tearing into food packages because she wasn't getting enough nutrients in her diet to feed both her and her babies, so that was easily solved. So instead of two male cats, we ended up with three female cats and one male.
Once we got moved in, we noticed that there was a cat under the roll off we had brought in to take out all the trash from the previous occupants of the house. As we kept watching her, we noticed she had babies. We began feeding her, because it was mid summer and she had babies, and, well, we're just like that. We're also on the list for the feral cat spay/neuter program in our area. But now the two babies have moved into the house. Both females, both miraculously not knocked up.
About six weeks after we moved in, one of my sons started asking when he was going to get a dog. He mourned our old dog, but she was never really "his" dog. He wanted a dog that would sleep in his bed and jump up and down when he came in the door and be just his. I can understand this. Not only did I want him to have his own dog, but I wanted dogs in general to protect the kids, the property, and the critters we will soon have. So we began earnestly looking for a dog. We had a potential lined up and then that fell through.
Some friends had a dog. They'd gotten him very shortly after the sudden death of their dog, and felt like he had been a "rebound" dog. Oh, sure, they took care of him, but they never felt that he was "part of the family". Did we want him? I talked to my son and he thought it would be a good idea. So we went and picked up Rocky, a seven year old Golden Retriever.
He fit with our family really well. He loves the kids, and does an awesome little happy dance when they all come home from school. His cold nose is a welcome wake up call to most of us, and he's really friendly. Really, really friendly. As in "Oh, hai, stranger; let me show you where all the good silver is" friendly. So not such a great guard dog. Also, he's now my dog. He follows me around with a devotion that would be stalkerish, if Rocky wasn't four legged and furry. It doesn't matter who takes him outside to do his business, if I don't take him he will bug me all day until I do. He's an amazing companion to both me and my kids and while I'm sure he would chase off almost anything that came in the yard if he was out there and so were we, his regularly sleeping through the many nocturnal bear visits we had this summer make me wonder about his long term potential for being any kind of guard dog.
Also a plus on Rocky's side is his remarkable patience with the cats. All of them. Because he spent seven years of his life being fed canned food, he won't eat dry food. So I mix a can of canned food in with his dry and he eats. Of course, the cats think his food is now better than his, so they want it. Mr. Sullivan and I have to be on guard duty while Rocky eats in the evenings, or the cats will chase him away from his own bowl.
Enter Bellatrix. Named for Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter series. She's an eight week old roly poly mass of puppy energy, a Rottweiler X Blue Heeler, although you can't see the Heeler in her at all. When we first heard about her, we were eager to meet her, as Rotties and Heelers both are generally of a temperament that make them awesome guard dogs. Plus getting her as a puppy would make her much more likely to be my son's dog, as he could train her to sleep in his bed and such. He'll be primarily responsible for her training, under my oversight.
And watch the cats freak out. Now, there's two dogs. The dogs are still hugely outnumbered by the cats, but it's hilarious to see the reaction to the addition to our household. The cats walk around with puffed out tails and in groups of two and three. We haven't had to guard the dogs food. The cats know their time in charge is limited, I guess.
Not that we'll let Bella run roughshod over them, but it is nice to see that she won't be a pushover, even at this early stage of the game.
And this is where I really wish I had a camera, so you could see Bella's cuteness for yourself.