One plus one is 2, but two ones are 11. I remember being fascinated by this fact when I was about six. When I was in my early twenties and doing the family budgeting for myself and my first husband I learned that this mathematical truism has practical applications. Each of us alone needed a certain amount of money to survive but together, somehow or another pooling our assets and renting only one apartment felt like it didn’t work out as a more frugal alternative. There seemed to be so many things that we needed that I hadn’t felt the need for as a single person. Even simple things that seemed like they would cost less if we were buying for two often resulted in buying two brands of the same product. Two CAN live as cheaply as eleven.
The same is true of raising puppies. Raising one puppy takes a certain amount of time, effort and cost. It seems like you could only be doubling the effort if you get two dogs, right? Plus they will keep one another occupied when you have other things to take your attention, like your children, your spouse, your home, your car or your job, right? If only it were that simple.
I have lived in a multidog household for most of the past twenty years. John and I usually each have one dog of our own, and sometimes one or the other of us will have a second dog who is significantly older or younger. Realistically though, we try and space them out to a new dog every three to four years. We are coming up to the time when we will be considering adding a new addition in the next year or so. At various times for various reasons we have raised two dogs at the same time.
When Eco was a puppy, we were raising a service dog candidate; a standard poodle. They were merry friends who spent a lot of time bouncing around with one another. The poodle was about a month older than Eco and for the first six months or so, he ran the roost. He was faster, stronger and more developed. And then Eco overtook his speed, strength and agility, not to mention that Eco cared a lot more about who got things first, who ran the fastest and who controlled access to resources such as me.
When the poodle puppy came home, we enrolled him in puppy classes (all of our pups go to puppy classes, both our own and those of other schools). When Eco came home four weeks later, we enrolled him in different classes. Why not put both pups in the same class you might think. There are two reasons for not putting both pups in one class. The first is that the older puppy needed to start sooner than Eco. And the second is that jockeying for position that I mentioned above; in a class setting we might have had to restrain one pup while the other played in order to avoid the inevitable ganging up that can happen of these two closely aligned friends against all the other pups in the class! So already, even though John and I were raising two pups and there were two of us, and we both went to both sets of classes, we didn’t double up on the enrolment and put both puppies in the same class.
Then there is the whole issue of equipment; surely with two pups, we could get by with a little less equipment, right? Not so much. Even with a month between the two puppies, we needed full sets of collars and harnesses, leashes, bowls, crates and beds to accommodate both puppies. Furthermore, we had to pay for vet visits twice as often, and usually we find it is better to bring dogs separately to the vet; there is less confusion and we can focus with the vet on each dog as an individual. That means that not only did we have to pay for two veterinary appointments, we chose to attend the vet together, with each puppy on a different day. Considering that our vet is a fifteen-minute drive from home, that means that we had to allocate about an hour for each vet visit for each of us, and pay for an hour’s worth of gas in total to get both dogs to the vet. In a busy family with a company, that was really quite tough!
We had to allocate time to train each dog separately and again, we tried to make sure that each of us got in a training session each day with each dog. We also made time to walk each of the dogs separately each day. That made for more time into this project. John and I like to teach our dogs to trail walk, and for the most part we did that together, so we could cut down some of the doubling up on that front, but honestly we didn’t save much time, and the time that Eco (the BLACK German Shepherd) to Yarrow (the snow white Standard Poodle) swamp walking, we really wondered why we had any dogs at all!
Two baths. Two grooms. Two classes, two vet visits, two sets of everything. And eleven times the mess! We have found that when we compare raising one versus two puppies at a time, having pups one at a time allows us to get to know the puppies better and creates so much less chaos in our lives that when we can, we don’t try and raise 11 puppies at once!