Is it worth it to have two dogs?

Before we got Jujube, a question I posed to other owners of multiple dogs was, “Is it worth it to have two dogs?” On the one hand, it seemed that the cost of having a second dog could be less than two times the cost of having one dog. It’s true that you need to buy twice as much dog food, but the time and effort cost was surely marginal. If you spend the time to feed one dog, feeding the second dog wouldn’t be much more trouble. Similarly, if you spend the time to walk one dog, walking a second dog at the same time doesn’t take any more time or effort.

My original reason in getting a second dog was to provide a daytime companion for Loki. I had read from a self-proclaimed dog expert that dogs are social animals and thus it was cruel to leave them in isolation for 8-9 hours a day. This expert believed so much in his message that in the absence of a human or second dog, he recommended getting another species, like a cat, or even a turtle, to be part of the canine’s pack. A turtle? Really? In all seriousness, I don’t think leaving a dog while you go to work counts as animal cruelty, but I still thought that it might be nice to get Loki a companion. Humans are really bizarre creatures, aren’t we? I got Loki to be my companion, and now I was going to get a second dog to be a companion to my companion.

As it turned out, nothing worked out as I had planned or envisioned, but little in life does. Sure, Loki and Jujube sometimes play and they can tolerate one another, but they most definitely do not cuddle or even hang out with one another. Given the number of times Loki has snapped at Jujube, she has learned to avoid him and he seems happy to have his space. I suspect that while we are at work, the two of them don’t even share the same floor. Despite our best efforts to keep them off the couch and bed while we are present, I’m pretty sure that Loki takes over the couch on the main floor and Jujube takes over the bed upstairs when we are away.

Through all of the dog fights, the money spent on a behaviorist, and bite wounds, I have never once regretted getting Jujube. She is an absolute sweetheart and has changed my perception of the shiba breed. It’s funny how first impressions really do matter. My experience with Loki has formed my main impression of the shiba breed, but had I gotten Jujube first, my impression would be entirely different. I view Loki’s characteristics to be what a shiba is. He’s mostly standoff-ish, very responsive to food as a motivator, skittish at times, apprehensive about being handled, sometimes aggressive, and does not follow you around the house like most dogs. And I see Jujube as the exception to the shiba breed. She is aloof, but always close. She does follow you around the house like a regular dog. She’s not at all skittish; in fact she’s fearless. She’s great about being handled in any way and never aggressive.

Because my initial impression of the shiba breed comes from Loki, I often hesitate to recommend shibas to others. I only actively recommend shibas if they are experienced with other primitive breeds like Akitas or Chows. But I imagine that if I got Jujube first, then I’d be much more inclined to recommend shibas to everyone I met.

I didn’t know what to expect when we got Jujube. I wanted to get a companion for Loki. But as it turns out, I got a sweetheart of a companion for me. So, if someone were to ask me today, “Is it worth it to have two dogs?” I’d say, I don’t know. I don’t think of us as owning two dogs. I think of us as owning one Loki and one Jujube. And I don’t regret getting either.


Anonymous said...

I think Jujubi is the exception. I think she is actually a Sheltie in Shiba's body.

If you ever decide Loki is not for the two-dog household, I'll take Jujubi. .... just kidding.

Mongoose said...

I don't recommend shibas to people because of my experience with PEOPLE. My shiba isn't an ounce of trouble, there couldn't be a better dog. But most people are lousy dog owners and a shiba deserves better.

Jen said...

Hmmm. Interesting post.

I think you are right about impressions, and perceptions. Having raised my female shiba into what I think is a pretty awesome DOG (shiba, too) then adopting an adult neurotic social-phob of a male shiba... I would really think twice now before suggesting a Shiba to just anyone! And especially consider all the implications before suggesting someone get TWO!

I feel blessed, though... despite the individual issues my dogs might have, they are really good together. So much so that we're thinking about #3!

Vi said...

Jen -- Haha! That one I know for sure. We are NOT thinking about getting a third dog. All the best to you if you do decide on #3.

Anonymous said...

And Jujubi is really an exception. I know of a shiba inu who is a sweetheart and gentle like Jujubi, but she was very skittish and far from "fearless".

She was afraid of and barked at inanimated objects. She barked at a boat, stuffed toy animals, and even grocery bags. She definitely had her shares of quirkiness.

Do I recommend or unrecommend shbias to anyone? I don't recommend anything to others. That's for the individuals to decide based on their personal tastes and personal situations.

lindsayt said...

I think a lot about the personality of the dog you get has to do with it's breeding as well regarding sound temperment. In general I would not suggest Shibas as a pet unless I know a person is willing to seek out a good breeder and trainer and pay for that, or be willing to invest the time and resources in a dog that wasn't bred for temperment such as one comming from a rescue.

Basically there is no such thing as a perfect dog, awesome ones, yes, but not perfect. Sounds like you have sort of a yin/yang thing with yours!

Anonymous said...

That's not necessary correct. I understand Vi's shiba inus Loki and Jujubi are both from the same breeder.

Colleen said...

Ha! Wait until the child comes into the picture. The dogs will become "step-children". We call Chloe or "forgotten child" b/c we don't have time to give her the attention she used to get. She's lucky we still walk her everyday.

Anonymous said...

So why do you have the dog? Poor doggy.

Jen said...

^^Perhaps she has the dog because it has a home, food, and a family. That's more than most.

Vi - are Juju and Loki from the same breeder?

To be honest, dog 3 isn't going to be a Shiba Inu :) Maybe that helped our decision!

Vi said...

Yes, Loki & Juju are from the same breeder.

Masako said...

Hi Vi,

I love Mongoose's comment and could NOT agree more. After owning (or being owned) by 5 different shibas, I'd say that my two males were a lot like Loki. You will find that as he grows older, he will become more of a cuddle bug/not so aloof and not so "macho uno". I think his relationship with Jujube will change as time goes by.

How you describe Jujube is definitely all female Shiba. All three of my females were like that - and I just knew that I would have an easier time with a female Shiba. (Thus when it was time to get another Shiba, I opted for another female and got Winnie).

I definitely agree with the rest of your readers- a Shiba is not for everyone. I've talked a few very close friends OUT of owning a Shiba just because I didn't think it would be a good fit for their home/family life. And, if I thought a Shiba would work - I think it's important to know the general nuances between the two sexes.

They are really rewarding dogs and I could never imagine not having a Shiba in the house... Aren't they great?!?

Magic said...

Hi, I've been following your blog for a while now, since before i got my shiba, Chloe is now 6 months old and i'm thinking of getting a second one, I'm not quite sure yet but i want a companion for my companion as you say. I leave my shiba at home alone when I go to work, and I feel that she is very lonely by herself when I do that, hope you could share some insights on this.

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