I wrote a few posts last year about what our journey has been like with adding a second dog to our family. They went down well as, lets face it if you don’t like pictures of two floppy earred dogs then you’ll be considered a psychopath by me.
As a bit of background we had our first dog Dexter from a puppy, we lived with Ben’s parents when we had him whilst we were saving for a mortgage for our house. Whilst we are extremely grateful for Ben’s Mum and Dad letting us live with them for a year after we moved out, we didn’t enjoy it, there was 6 adults living under one roof and we struggled with the transition from renting and having our own freedom, back to living under the roof of Mum and Dad – it had been 5 years since either of us had lived at ‘home’. We knew we wanted a dog when we moved out, and we got Dexter as a way to get us out of the house more and relieve some tension in the house. It did work and was the best decision we made.
When we moved into our home nine months later, Dexter slowly over the course of 18 months slowly became a little bit mental. And not in a “ha ha” he’s a bit crazy mental, genuinely concerning mental. He’s a beagle which is a pack dog, and would happily spend hours walking around the same 2 plants in the garden doing figures of eight. After a day out walking returning home would see him walking back to the same spot no amount of removing him from that area would help and often caused even crazier behaviour. As months rolled by he became more attached to that area, and spent less and time anywhere else. We ended up calling a specialist who said that he was searching for his pack and suggested getting a second dog, after seeing his personality instantly free up with the introduction of the specialists own dog into our home & garden we felt reassured it was the right decision.
We had planned to get a second dog, although at this point we were newly engaged and were a little worried about really having enough time to accommodate another dog. But Dexter’s mental health (sounds so silly saying that about a dog, but if you have dogs you’ll know what I mean!) was a bigger priority for us to get sorted. Whilst we had always loved the idea of getting another Beagle, we went off the advice of getting a different breed. Beagles are not the most people pleasing dogs by nature, but they do like copying and following other dogs. So we opted for a people pleasing breed for Dexter to follow around and copy, but it also needed to be a chunky dog capable of matching Dexter’s energy and be ready to play with him all the time. We also didn’t really have the room for a dog any bigger than Dex in our current home.
It was quickly decided between us that we were going to choose some type of Spaniel, and within 2 weeks we’d found some that had been born locally – A litter of Sprocker Spaniels – a popular close bread of springer and cocker spaniels. Within about three weeks we had our new arrival (unexpectedly) on my knee on the way home in the car, we were meant to be collecting him a week later and was just visiting for a final check before we bought him home, but the breeder suddenly was being really odd, so we decided to bring the dog home where we knew he would be loved and looked after – it just wasn’t the most practical timing as we had a wedding the next next day, so had to go and drop him at Ben’s parents to look after.
Over the past year they’ve both developed distinctive little personalities and both of them have very different demeanors. Sometimes we feel like Dexter looks at us, when Charlie is trying to bite his ankles as Dexter is trying to drift of to sleep, like “What did you two do? Why would you bring him here”, but for the most part he is now a much happier, less naughty and bubblier dog, who now has an annoying little brother as a sidekick.
Dexter has changed into almost a grumpy old man in comparison to Charlie, people can’t believe that he’s now can’t be considered as a hyper dog compared to how he was just a year ago. It’s like he’s taken on the moody older brother role. That being said, he doesn’t just sit and looked bored. Dexter likes spending time by himself as well as being around us, then Charlie. Probably in that order, that’s not to say that he doesn’t enjoy spending time with Charlie, but he spends the most time with him, through the day when we’re at work they’re together in their run and kennel. So when he get’s the opportunity to slip away or demand a belly rub when you get home he takes it.
He used to be quite a naughty dog, and he is still the worst behaved out of the two, although he’s not as bad as he used to be. He still likes to steal a sock off the radiator when the opportunity strikes, or try and see what’s cooking on the stove. But he’s a much more patient dog and no longer tries to steal food out of your hand or off your plate when you turn a blind eye for a millisecond (he gives you the grace of at least one full second). I think this is down to some more aggressive sit and wait training by me in the past year, I try to spend half an hour once a week when I get home or a few 15 minute appointments, really drilling it into him what he has to do. It will be a constant maintenance with him, naturally he has a naughty/cheeky personality. Beagles also calm down on year seven, so we may see a big change in the next two or so years.
Dexter enjoys an minimum of around 4 naps a day when we’re at home. He likes sitting outside by himself when it’s sunny, or finding a spot in the house and soaking up the sun with his head in the air. He loves nothing more than when we’re stuck inside because it’s raining as he doesn’t like walking in the rain, he would rather stay in, confined to the sofa he sleeps and cuddles next to you all day long.
Charlie is the hyperactive, non stop moving little child. From our first walk out in public with him we’ve trusted him off the lead, he has never run off (bar once, more on that at the end) and he seems to have developed a maximum length that he’s willing to be away from you. Unlike Dexter who when at the beach may indulge in a light paddle if the time is right, enjoys a full blown swim in the water.
Dexter is only interested in tennis balls if it means pissing his brother off in order to steal it off him and destroy it in front of him, but if you have a tennis ball around Charlie, you have the power and his attention, he will do anything you want. Charlie never steals anything and is the most patient dog, he will only try and crawl up the counter tops if you’ve attempted to hide a tennis ball from him. That dog is resilient, and will never forget where you’ve put something. We’ve put balls on the window sill in the evening behind the curtain and the next morning when he’s been let out of his cage, the first thing he will do is go behind the curtain and reclaim his prize.
He’s not the best trick performing dog, other than his recall which is near on perfect. You can just about get a sit and a paw off him, but a lay down is still a long way off. But he’s still very much a puppy (classed as puppies until they’re two), and at a year old he is a very trustworthy dog. The only thing he does do is destroy dog beds if left unattended. I treated them to a new bed for when they go to Kennels and after one night away we came back to be apologised to that he had shredded their bed. Unfortunately since he has done this two other times with their kennel beds at home. We know it’s Charlie as Dexter never did it before getting Charlie.
His most annoying trick is pushing tennis balls under our coffee table, he does this as he can’t get them out, and this means you have to bend down, get it out and throw it away. Within 30 seconds he has purposefully wedged it back under the table again and is staring and groaning at you until you get it out. You have about 20-30 seconds before a high-pitched girlie bark demands it’s a necessity, not a request. It’s at this point the ball is confiscated as this game would go on for hours if you let it.
One thing is his head is a fluffy mop of hair, and his tongue sticks out the side like it’s twice the size it should be for his mouth, and he looks absolutely crazy. When he eventually flops (if you get one afternoon nap of rest bite out of Charlie you’re grateful)
The Two Together
The two of them together love chasing each other round, wrestling around the garden – or using the run in our living room as some kind of designated sleeping spot, that also doubles as an arena for round housing with one another. Their version of playing with each other looks a lot like attacking, but I promise it’s friendly and when they bite it’s actually more like they’re placing their teeth on you, you can always tell when one over steps the mark as theirs a little cry before they break it off. On walks they are very rarely together, Dexter is a heads down sniffer dog chasing the path of a local rabbit or pheasant, Charlie is waiting for you constantly to throw the next tennis ball.
They enjoy playing with toys, and are generally on good terms now when it comes to food. We quickly had to move Charlie on from Puppy food as we stood no chance in the beginning of them eating the right meals, but unless one is particularly hungry, and the other is not – they stick to their bowls on their designated sides. Charlie’s left, Dexter’s right. If one isn’t looking and the other isn’t hungry the other eats both. We let them do this to teach them a lesson for not eating/being more interested in our meals. Hopefully one day they will get the message, for now our lessons are going right over their heads
Over the past year there have been a few minor disasters. Dexter got off his lead on a late night walk after his new harness broke. We live in a very open area once you’ve gone off the main road it’s open fields for miles. Dexter has no recall – he knows his name he is just more interested in doing his own thing, and once you start to chase him, GAME ON – he’ll let you chase him for ages always staying just out of arms reach. We let Charlie off the lead in order to try and get Dexter’s attention via playing with him/chasing him etc but sadly Charlie got spooked with all the shouting and ran off. We knocked on the door of a farm we knew had a black lab (who Dexter likes to bark at when we see him on walks) and asked to borrow their dog for a bit to try and get him back.
I had to run off to find Charlie, he was only around 6 months old at his point and we’d called both our parents to come and help as it was almost dark. I ran all the way back home (about a mile) and couldn’t see Charlie, so got out my Car, and started driving around the village. Eventually after about 30 minutes Ben called me to say he had managed to catch Dexter, and when we got back home deciding what step to take next, Charlie had found his way back home and was chilling in the garden, looking a little bit scared and bewildered but otherwise fine. It took around an hour for our Parents to get to us from our initial call and they arrived at our home to find us exhausted, worn out and me mid panic attack on the kitchen floor. I’m now super paranoid about checking the dogs harnesses as I’ve genuinely never been so scared in my life.
It’s not very often that they curl up properly together, but when they do it makes my heart melt. It’s usually on a day when they’ve been particularly clingy with one another all day long, and one usually ends up using the other as a pillow. In these moments I feel most at peace and that all the madness and constant go-go-go from them is worth it. Life would be boring without them, and I don’t know how we ever coped with just one. They’re much more manageable as a pair as crazy as that sounds.
Dexter & Charlie’s Photo Diary
On one hand I know I’m going to love having a little dog break when we go away for our honeymoon, we don’t spend very much time away from them and avoid putting them in kennels unless necessary. I’m sure after the first 4 days I’ll end up missing them no doubt. They’re our babies, and I never thought I would love a dog as much as I love these to floppy earred mad idiots.