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Adopting Siblings – They May Be Related But Can Be As Different As Night and Day

Adopting a puppy can be a wonderful and enriching experience; one that’s filled with delight, hysterics and education for the new dog owner. Adopt two and you are of course doubling the fun and education. Surely you thought when you decided to bring home two puppies, that this was in an effort for each to keep the other company while you are at work all day. After all, they were raised together and are from the same litter. When your friends and family asked why you brought home two from the shelter when your intention was to adopt only one your, response is almost standard, β€œI saw them huddled together, how could I separate them? They’re brothers! They need each other.”

Like a new mother or father who has just brought home his or her bundle of joy from the hospital, you send out an adoption notice to your friends and family. You waste no photo opportunity and any chance you get, you post them on Facebook to the delight of your 700 friends. β€œIf my sister wants to post photos of her son, I can do the same with my β€˜sons’ Yin and Yang.” You reason. And why not? Your mother has already accepted that she is a grandmother twice over and her new grandbabies just happen to bark instead of say goo goo.

In the first few months, you will likely be so taken by the experience and your mutual love affair that you won’t notice how different they are. All you can tell is that they’re both sweet, give you unconditional love and run to greet you when you come home from work. That whimper from Yin and whine from Yang as you walk through the door is all the evidence you need that you made the right decision.

Aging, Ailments and Temperament – Each Dog is Unique
As puppies, Yin and Yang are simply balls of loving fur – living to serve you and ensure your happiness. Over time you will start to notice just how different each of your canines is. Although your pups seem as though they are two halves of the same coin – indeed that’s why you named them Yin and Yang, by the time they hit about 18 months to two years, individual and very distinct characteristics will start to form. From their respective personalities to how each reacts to strangers to how each is affected by changes in the seasons, it won’t be long before you see that you have two completely different dogs living with you.

While Yin took to his crate and proves that dogs are den animals, Yang prefers to sleep sprawled out on the floor. Sometimes he makes it to the bed you got him and other times he sleeps in the tub or the shower. On the few occasions he has to be in his crate, Yang is clearly uncomfortable. Yin is also more than happy to hang out indoors. In fact, on those days when you are working from home, Yin is sure to be lying next to your desk, still as air. What is that noise you hear? Is Yang running around your front yard barking his head off at the neighbor’s cat or some other potential threat to your security?

When friends come to visit, does Yang sit patiently by the door and almost stare people down while Yin can’t wait to greet them and lick them in the face? Only upon your instruction, will Yang cautiously β€˜say hello’? He’s by no means aggressive with anyone, you’ve made sure to train them both, well, in fact. You are perhaps more inclined to call Yang cautious and Yin as sweet and loving to your friends as both dogs are with you.

As the leaves change from green to brilliant shades of red and yellow, do you notice that Yang is at his happiest? In fact, as snow begins to fall, do you find that he wants to sleep outside buried in a blanket of snow? What’s that noise you hear now? Is that Yin whining until he manages to find the Vermont stove to lie in front of?

Although you feed them the same, two things are seemingly unavoidable. Despite how much you exercise them, one may have a tendency toward weight gain and need to hike just a little longer than the other. And while this is a pain for you as you hadn’t expected to get up an extra 45 minutes early each morning to make sure Yin gets all the exercise he needs to keep his pudge down, it is well worth it. And while Yin tends toward a slightly larger midsection, Yang for some reason is at the Vet more frequently. He’s already had three steroid injections because of that occasional limp of his. Your Vet assures you that neither appears to be predisposed to hip dysplasia and so while Yang may seem slimmer, you only play fetch with them twice a week instead of every night, the way you used to as it seems to be harder on his joints.

Assuming you did your best to train them the same, were careful to respect their established pack order and maintain your position as peak leader, some things are inevitable. In other words, it all boils down to this: Although you adopted two of the same breed, indeed siblings and moreover, twins, they are as different as night and day. In spite of their large stature, Yin was destined to be a lap dog while Yang was born to be your protector. They may each receive the same nutrition, as with humans, some are healthy as an ox while others are β€˜sickly’ and catch every cold that goes around.

About the only thing that you can do differently that nature plays no part in is this: from the moment you get your dogs home, handle them. Grooming is not just to ensure cleanliness, minimize matting hair and so forth, but it also strengthens the bond between your dog(s) and you. Brush them at least daily; learn how to properly wipe their paws and when doing so, check for foreign objects between their toes and in their pads. Bathe them once a month (never more frequently), and preferably in a sulfate-free shampoo. Clean their ears with cotton balls and/or the same 6” cotton swabs your Vet uses. Just like people, some dogs are more prone to earwax than others. Check their teeth and gums at least weekly. Poke around in there and rub your fingers along their gums.

Why are you doing this? We all hope for our dogs to be the pinnacle of good health. We hope that the only time they have to see a Vet is for their annual shots, to be spayed/neutered and when it’s their time to go over the rainbow bridge. The reality is, this isn’t the case. You will be required at times to administer everything from monthly flea medicine to heartworm medicine to the occasional parasite medicine. It is important to know how to do this and to do so with authority.

Apart from that, love your kids. They are grateful to be in your life at least as grateful as you feel for owning them.