Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Dog

January 10, 2019

I say with only a little shame that I am guilty of the “sin” of coveting my neighbor’s dog many times over. It’s so easy to do, and yet I advise against it because it’s unlikely that anything good will come of it. Sure, once in a while you want a dog who the neighbor can’t keep because of failing health or some other extreme situation. In other cases, the dog that is a perfect match for you just wasn’t right for the original guardian, and a change is positive for all.

These win-win situations are not the norm, though. It’s far more probable that you end up pining for a dog who can never be yours even though that dog might make you very happy. Another possibility is that the dog you long for would not, in actual fact, be a wonderful addition to your family and to your life.

Over the years, there have been several dogs who I loved very much and would gladly have adopted if they were available. Sometimes I knew these dogs well and had good reason to want them for my own. Other times, I may not have been thoroughly knowledgeable about all of their behavioral and medical issues. In those cases, I may have been in for a rude awakening if any of those dogs had become mine.

One dog who I always adored and wished was my own had many fantastic qualities. She loved to train and loved to run, and she was a great agility dog. Unfortunately, she also had severe thunderstorm phobia and kept the entire family up many nights in her terror each rainy season in Wisconsin. I never happened to be with her during a thunderstorm so for years I was fabulously unaware of this serious issue that had a negative impact on her well-being and on the rest of the family.

In another case, a dog with an incredible personality—friendly and playful but able to calm down, lots of fun, never reckless, always affectionate—had frequent bouts of severe diarrhea which I did not know about until years after I wished she were mine. Needless to say, I would have dealt with that issue if she were my dog, but I no longer had any regrets that she had not become mine.

The grass is always greener where the neighbor’s dog lives, but when you see a dog with wonderful qualities, you may only be seeing the highlight reel. You may be blissfully unaware of the dog’s less-than-stellar qualities. If you have you ever seriously coveted your neighbor’s (or friend’s or co-worker’s or relative’s) dog, what was the outcome?