First dogs and Best First dogs

Friend Heather is planning to eventually get her young family a dog. Her little boy is a fantastic chap and rather young. This seems like a perfect opportunity for a discussion on: what kind of dog was your first dog; if you were recommending a first dog for a young family what would you recommend?

Our first family dog was an adopted Golden Retriever. Back in the day Dad was a duck hunter who wanted a retriever who could keep four young children company and still bring home the ducks. Unfortunately, the people who were re-homing this dog were less than honest about his potential.

Rex (he came with this name) was rather high strung, afraid of loud noises, and indifferent to children. When Dad took Rex out to see how he reacted to the sound of a gun, Rex broke loose, ran home and hid under a bed. During the Fourth of July fireworks — some miles away — Rex reversed strategies, broke out through the screen door and disappeared for the rest of the night.

As I said, Rex was rather high strung. He found that the best way to relieve stress was to chew the cedar siding off our house, which happened to be a rental. Fortunately the folks were good renters who constantly ran around behind Rex fixing up his oops moments.

Finally, Dad connected with my first grade teacher’s parents — they had a farm and loved the way Rex looked. They also found Rex’s personality suited them just fine. Rex in turn relaxed on the farm where expectations of him were much less demanding. No kids to play with, nothing louder than a piece of equipment, no fireworks or guns.

Our next family dog was a carefully researched black Labrador puppy who ended up being as amazing for our family as Rex was for the farmers. I still recommend labs as a great first dog for people with dog experience. As puppies and young dogs though, they can be a little too big and energetic for first time dog owners. I’ve had a number of people tell me they think Beagles make good first dogs for first time dog owners. I’d love to hear other people’s experience and suggestions! What was your first dog (if your first pet wasn’t a dog, what was it?) Do you have a recommendation for a first dog for a young family where the parents had a family dog growing up?

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