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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, before everyone jumps on the "you're too young and unsettled" bandwagon, a little background on me:

I have depression and anxiety that have proven quite hard to manage and one of the few things that has been helpful to me has been having my animals around me.

I have already gone through 2 years of school working towards a biology major, but am now taking a year off to transfer as I have decided I want to go to school for Equine Studies, focusing on horse training/riding instruction and maybe I'll try to get a degree in equine therapy as well. I'm anticipating a minimum of 3 years in school for this, even with the transfer of credits from my old school, because of the huge shift in my intended major.

My life is fairly structured for a college student: I spend the fall/winter/spring at school and the summers working as a riding instructor at a dog-friendly summer camp. I usually spend a few months at home in NYC at my parent's apartment between school and work but they're downsizing to a smaller apartment and since I plan to be renting apartments and not live in dorms at school I may stay in the apartment I rent until work starts. The summer job also guarentees a fairly sizeable summer income that includes free room and board, so I would definitely be able to put aside a certain amount of money for vet care each year.

I had always planned to get a dog as soon as possible. Like I said, having pets is one of the few things I can always count on to relieve my symptoms. I love people, I'm a social person, but my life feels empty without a dog.

I currently have a rabbit who is an official emotional support animal that will be coming to school with me. I don't know how many of you have spent time with indoor, friendly rabbits, but for those of you that have you'll probably understand when I say that she's already nearly equal to the commitment of a dog (or maybe more appropriately, a cat) as it is- I'll already be limited the time I'm away from the house because of her, and feeling guilty for not being home the same I would as if I also had a dog. Basically, a lot of the reasons for not getting a dog at my age (being tied down, having to get home at reasonable hours to feed/walk, not being able to go on spur of the moment trips, general burden financially/time-wise) I already face with the rabbit.

Now, onto my main question:

my family currently has 2 dogs. We have a ~5.5 year old "black dog lab mutt" named Josie, and a 4 month old Boston Terrier named Evie. Now, we mainly got Evie because I pushed my parents to it. We had another boston before we got Josie that she grew up with and love the breed. We'd all been thinking about getting another boston to varying degrees, and since I've always been the one in the family that was best and most committed to training our dogs it made sense to get a second pup while I was home to work with her. I am about 80% responsible for Evie at this point in terms of training/feeding/etc, and I am undoubtedly "her person" to the extent that a friendly breed like bostons have a main person.

I will be home until june, and while I am home I will continue to be the one in charge of her care. Currently I'm home all day because I'm not working, she'll have to adjust to a more normal schedule where someone isn't with her all the time (depending on where I work, I may find work in a petstore or doggie daycare that lets me bring her with me if I'm lucky).

my dilemma now is I know I want a dog when I go to school. I look forwards to having to keep a schedule with a dog- waking up early, going to a morning walk, taking breaks during the day to let it out, and generally having to be in charge of something living other than myself. Having been raising a puppy for the past few months I also have a new, adult understanding of how much work a dog really is- more so than I did a year ago when these were all dreams. That does not change anything. I honestly feel like I need a dog to live my life to the fullest.

Now, I could take Evie with me when I go to camp, and then when I go to school. It would be nice to have a dog I raised and not have to deal with new dog stuff in college, but I'm not sure Evie is the right choice to take with me and I want to do what's best for her, first and foremost.

First, she's always had other dogs with her since she's been born, at the breeders and then with us. She's quite bonded to Josie and I don't know that she would be completely happy as a singleton dog. She loves my rabbit and we're working on the two of them being able to hang out under supervision since the rabbit is also interested in her when she's being less boisterous, so she wouldn't be completely alone, and I'd work to find places where she can socialize with other dogs as well.

Second, I know that a boston terrier is not the breed I would have chosen for myself given my lifestyle. Their temperament is good, and their small size is convenient, but their issues with weather extremes are not so much, as all my top schools are in places that get very cold and snowy in winter and hot in summer, and part of what I want from a dog is being able to hike, jog, etc even when its cold or hot.

Third, I know she would be happy if I left her at home. She is bonded to my parents- not as much as to me, but enough that she would miss them too. She'd have to adjust to me being gone, but she would have another dog and both of them and would go to doggie daycare during the day. I'm not pumped about them ruining the training I do with her (the lab mix is a completely different dog from the one I trained 4 years ago b/c of how they treat her, she's got a whole host of different issues now since I've been away at school and not been around in the summer to work with her), and I know I will miss her terribly, but her happiness is most important.

If I did not bring Evie, I would probably be looking for a young adult dog. I may break and get another (probably older) puppy, but having just been reminded how extensive puppyhood care can be I would not be jumping into that lightly. With a new dog, the majority of my summer money would be sunk into the initial care costs, etc. I would be able to visit shelters and look for the right dog.

My parents will let me bring her if that's what I decide to do, but they love her dearly and would also love to keep her with them. They know I can take care of a dog. Understand that I have a twin brother who would not be able to, so they and I know the difference between a 21 year old who is responsible and ready to do what she needs to for a dog versus one who has a fanciful idea of what having a dog is like and would crumble at the responsibility. They'd probably be more upset at me getting another dog versus bringing what is essentially "my" puppy with me, since they would worry about when I had to bring the third dog home for holidays and whatnot.

What I want from a dog:
- companionship, both laying on the couch and someone to go on weekend adventures with
- willing to do at least 2 (lengthy) walks a day, before and after classes, hopefully 3 walks a day. I lived in Oberlin, OH for 2 winters so I know I can brave negative temperatures to walk a dog if I need to.
- understand any dog will have problems; I will work around them

basically I'm wondering what all your ideas on this are, if you think one choice is better than the other, etc...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've officially claimed Evie as mine. 1) because she's the perfect dog for me right now and 2) because I know I will end up wanting 2 dogs ASAP anyways because I like to have two so I can feel less guilty not constantly engaging with the dog and to make their lives more enriching.

I'm now realizing I don't want to work at a summer camp anymore and will probably make better money elsewhere, and I'm reconsidering working there this summer and thinking I might live in my house on long island and then move to where I end up going to college semi-permanently until I'm done with school instead of coming home from school every break and living at home in the summer. I'm also planning to get pet insurance for both Evie and the potential second dog to help with unforseen medical costs.

At this point in my life I don't think I want to get a dog from a rescue for several reasons
- I want to know as much as possible about genetic predispositions and history (my Boston before this one died of cushings disease and I wish we'd done our research about genetic history/testing of the line more)
- I'd like to do agility and rally obedience and am looking at breeds known to be successful in those things (ie, smart, want to please, agile, sporty)

things I'm looking for in a breed
- able to do obediance and agility but at the same time doesn't have constant energy- they don't need to have to be exhausted after a long walk but one that will "settle" indoors as opposed to still playing, pacing, etc even after an hour of walking
- one that doesn't love everything it meets (like my boston or a retriever (I understand this means I will need to do a lot of puppy socialization b/c these kinds of breeds are more prone to being weary of new things))
- as low a prey drive as possible so as to make my rabbit's life easier- right now she's free range and I'll probably cage her if/when I get another dog but I'd like her running around not to be a huge ordeal (I understand for high drive/working/herding breeds that this is always going to be present to some extent but mostly I don't want something like ridgebacks or sighthouds or pointers that are known for chasing down small animals and killing them, also understand this is something that needs to be trained and worked with on an individual dog basis)
- size wise I go back and forth. I really like bigger dogs but smaller ones will be much easier for someone my age to find housing with so really anything over 25lbs is cool with me
- note that I probably will not be able to count on having a fenced yard in the near future

my current shortlist of breeds are
- Border Collie (always really, really wanted one but worried about energy level w/o yard and that it will be too active indoors even after a lot of exercise)
- German Shepherd (another breed I've always wanted but worried it might be hard to find a place to live with a dog this big, also not sure how they do in agility?)
- Aussie Shepherd, either mini or standard (again worried about energy level)
- smooth coated Collie
- Poodle, either medium sized or standard
- Labradoodle or Goldendoodle

It's really mostly between a GSD and a BC, but both breeds are a lot to jump into for a young person and so I'm thinking its a good idea to keep an open mind to other potential agility/obedience breeds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've firmly decided to bring Evie with me. She's become even more bonded with me since I started letting her sleep in my bed instead of a crate and I think either way (me leaving or being separated from our other dog) she will be in for a huge adjustment.

I think going through college you have to decide what your priorities are. I've already done two years of school focusing 100% on academics and friends and it made me so depressed and anxious I had to leave. I know there are going to be times when I wishI weren't tied down with pets and could stay out late and didn't have to worry about walks/socialization/training/care, but it'll be worth it in the long run for me, I think. If sometimes my grades have to give that's ok. In a few years when I start a real job I will be looking with my animals in mind, just as I always do. They will always come first even if it makes my own life a little harder.
 
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