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A Perfect First Dog

When I think about the success stories related to this blog in 2012, helping to network Mia the beagle/husky mix into her forever home is near the top of the list. 

beagle husky mix

Through my animal advocate friend Nicole, Mia came to my attention at the perfect time – just days after my colleague Mike asked me to be on the lookout for a great family dog. Although he had dogs in the past, this would be the first dog ever for his wife Pam and their two children. Mia has been with them for several months, and I’m thrilled to report that the family is totally in love with her.

Mia has even put a spell on cat lover Pam, who answered the following questions.

How is living with a dog different from what you expected?

I didn’t know exactly what to expect, having never owned or lived with a dog. My expectations were based on what I’d been told by other dog owners, and what I’d observed of other dogs and owners over the years. I knew dogs were “a lot of work,” and required “a huge commitment.” In my mind, it was similar to bringing another child into the family. Truth be told…I was kind of nervous. However, living with Mia has been overall easier than what I expected. Very minor challenges early on, but nothing that ever made us question bringing her into our family (well, except that first day when she rolled around in poop and I had to give her a bath. Could’ve been a deal-breaker but we hung in there).

How did you know Mia was the dog for you?

We didn’t! We had a hunch she would be a good fit, but that was based on a few pictures and someone else’s opinion/description. She was described as “likes to keep to herself and acts more like a cat than a dog.” That definitely piqued my interest! Other than that, it just felt kind of meant to be.

What is Mia like?

Mia is a GREAT dog. Her “birth parents,” as I like to call them, did an amazing job training her, and she is extremely well-behaved and incredibly easy. She is calm, SO patient, loving, affectionate. She is also very ladylike and has wonderful manners.

From a physical standpoint, she has the softest, silkiest, most luxurious coat, and her coloring/markings are to die for. During our jaunts around our neighborhood, people often stop us and want to pet her, always commenting on her unusually soft coat and her unique “Husky” eyes. She has one clear blue eye, and one eye that is half-blue and half-brown. Super cool.

What is the best thing about Mia?

Of course I love the fact that she is so well behaved. I can’t help but feel proud, even though I had nothing to do with her formative years! But mostly, I love her sweet personality and her steadfast companionship. As a stay-at-home mom, I’m home by myself a lot, and I love knowing she’s here with me. And of course the kids adore her. I can tell, frankly, that SHE prefers adult company, but she is so patient and good with them, and of course she is rewarded by all the love and tummy rubs she wants.

Mia 3

What annoys you about Mia?

She can be very needy, and some days, she literally follows me up and down stairs, from room to room, out to the deck and back in again. Sheesh! And the guilt! Oh, the guilt. Never anticipated this, having always had a cat. The way she looks at me with those eyes, I instantly feel horrible for doing what I’m doing instead of petting/walking/playing with her. She’s also a little smelly sometimes…mostly around her face and mouth. This does not seem to deter my daughter, however, from planting kisses all over her face and head, and vice-versa.

What is a typical day like for Mia and your family?

Mia sleeps in our room (on HER big fluffy dog bed, not on our bed). She wakes and rises when we do, not a minute before. She likes to lie on her bed and make a big production of stretching and yawning, waiting for a belly rub. From there, she assists me in waking our son Toby (8), by propping her front paws up on his bed and licking any exposed body parts, usually an elbow. Then on to our daughter Iva’s room. Mia is HUGE help in getting Iva (6) out of bed in a happy, peaceful way…Iva would much rather see Mia than mean mom first thing in the morning.

Once the kids are awake and eating breakfast, Mia retires to her pillow where she waits patiently until it’s time for the kids to leave for school. She stands at the door to see everyone off, then seems mildly relieved that they’re gone and the noise level has dropped dramatically. At that point, she gives me a look that seems to say, “Ah, peace and quiet. Just you and me, Mom.”

The rest of the day is spent sunbathing on the deck (her, not me), going for a long walk through scenic Prairie Village, and waiting for the kids to come home from school, which means lots of hugs and tail wagging. Evenings are family time, and Mia is right there in the center of the action whether it’s Lego building or a riveting game of Uno. She’s usually pretty wiped out by 8:00 p.m.

How do you think living with a  dog is different for your kids than living with a cat?

Mia is a member of the family. She seems more like the kids’ sibling than our cat did. She is so engaged and eager to be with them, always so grateful for their attention. Cats are, in contrast, so aloof and become annoyed with too much attention. (Let the record show, however, that I still ADORE cats!)

Mia 2

A little bird (OK, your husband) told me that Mia became bonded to you pretty quickly. Do you feel like you are her favorite person?

Absolutely. No doubt about it. She loves Mike, too, but I’m THE ONE. Her world centers around me (and I don’t say this in a braggadocious way, it’s just a fact). Again, kind of like caring for a child.

What sage advice do you have for families who are considering getting their first dog?

Don’t know about sage, but I would just reiterate that, even with easy, well-behaved dogs, it’s a major deal. I’m talking about quality of life, for a creature that is 100% dependent on you not only for its basic needs, but for the intangibles, like happiness. Anyone can “have” a dog. But it’s a huge responsibility to make that dog’s life as good as it can be, for the long haul.

Thanks to Pam for taking the time to write this entertaining update on the life of Mia!

beagle husky mix

What did you learn from your first dog? Share your story in the comments.

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