My Dog, and Your Next Dog

Economics bloggers have their side interests. Felix Salmon has cycling. Tyler Cowen has restaurants. Yves Smith has cute pictures of animals (see the “antidote du jour” in any Links post). Mine is dogs.


My dog died on Wednesday last week at the age of sixteen. We loved him like a child, which I know to be true now that I have a child. He made me a better, happier, more generous person.

My wife and I adopted Dauber at the age of eight, after his first family gave him up because they didn’t have time for him. He was what you would call “hard to place” – besides being relatively old, he barked a lot, hated other dogs, and didn’t particularly like people. He also had many medical problems, beginning with bladder stones and damaged vertebrae (when we got him) through pancreatitis and congestive heart disease. I think it’s highly likely that if we hadn’t adopted him he would have been euthanized eight years ago.

But the lesson, and the reason for this post, is that Dauber gave us as much joy as any being could have given us. So the next time you are looking for a dog (or other animal companion), please visit an animal shelter and see if you could adopt a dog who has been given up and needs a home, rather than going to a breeder and increasing demand for puppies when so many dogs already need families. And please consider adopting a dog who is hard to place, maybe one who is getting on in years and isn’t as cute as a newborn puppy.

In our area, we like and are making a donation to the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. There are also various sanctuaries and shelters throughout the country for animals who have trouble finding families, but I don’t know any well enough to recommend them; you could contact the Humane Society of the United States and ask if they have suggestions.

Thanks for reading.

By James Kwak

36 thoughts on “My Dog, and Your Next Dog

  1. your stock was already up in my book, but after this post, it’s waaaaaay, waaaaaay up. long (KWAK: nyse)! (and DAUB: nyse, too!)

    from a fellow rescue dog lover,
    g szeto, santa fe (
    juliette, blue-tick cross, ’94-’07, adopted at age 7
    annie, blue-tick, ’94-’08, adopted at age 13
    waylon, lab cross, ’99-present, adopted at age 5
    bailey, pitbull cross, ’07-present, adopted at age 2

  2. So sorry about Dauber, he looks utterly adorable. He was clearly very loved. Many condolences to you, and may your next dog be just as wonderful.

  3. Man that hurts James. Sorry about Dauber. His life was obviously so much better for having crossed paths with you. And vice versa. He lived well. Now stop it with these ‘human’ posts before you make us all … behavioral.

  4. very sorry about your dog. they give us so much, unconditionally. Always happy to see you come home and just hang around.

    After our first dog (Jamie, a 3-time shelter loser) died at 14, my wife said, no more. Two months later, we adopted a rescue greyhound. We still miss Jamie but love Star just as much.

    Best wishes,


  5. Sorry to hear about the loss James. Our family has always loved dogs. They’re very perceptive animals when you are physically sick or need some emotional support/sympathy. Wait a couple months and get a new one. You’ll feel better and the kids will Love it.

  6. James, I’m very sorry to hear about Dauber. I know how you feel. Two days before Dauber passed away my wife and I put our beloved pug Bubba to sleep, just two weeks shy of his fifteenth birthday. My wife got Bubba when he was 3 months old and he was with her through her first marriage, divorce, and a serious illness. When she and I began dating in 2004 I took to Bubba right away. He was loving, kind, smart, funny – a terrific companion in every way. Our sincerest condolences.

  7. Just piling on the empathy, but thanks for sharing this. One of the ways that blogging beats MSM is that there can be a larger sense of community created by sharing this type of information – which creates for many of us a sense of value that cannot be monetized.

    We’re cat people, and have always gone to shelters, and like you, we love our two boys like our children.

    Hope your family reaches peace with your loss, and that a new friend will be joining your family soon…

  8. James, Dogs are truly remarkable creatures. My dog (my first) came to me as a young German Shepherd pup and to say that I am devoted to him is an understatement. So when another magical moment happened in my life, in the form of a beautiful English woman whom I met in 2007 in Mexico (as one does) leading to me leaving England permanently last September, there was no question that Pharaoh was coming as well. He is now very happy in a house that has 13 other dogs, all of them rescued by Jeannie.
    My feelings towards Pharaoh are expressed below:
    (Please forgive this indulgence) I agree with all that you say about supporting and caring about lost dogs. Dogs really can teach us so much about loyalty and integrity.
    May Dauber life in spirit with you forever. P.S. what a great age he made; he was a happy chap!

  9. “Economics bloggers have their side interests. Felix Salmon has cycling. Tyler Cowen has restaurants. Yves Smith has cute pictures of animals…”

    …and Brad DeLong has… the entirety of human knowledge to date.

    But true, very true, family and friends are the really important things, whether furry, feathered, or self-consciously bi-pedal.

  10. Your posts have been a consistently excellent education for me.
    But I hold you in the highest esteem for this one: You set an example with it.
    Well done Sir.

  11. I empathize with your loss and my heart goes out to you and your family having gone through this when our beloved 11 year old German Shepherd (GSD) died two years ago last April 1, on a Sunday, in my arms. She was for all intent and purpose fine two days earlier, sick on Saturday, and gone on Sunday of hermangio sarcoma.

    Became involved in German Shepherd rescue after that and had a young GSD, on death row at a local dog pound, literally reach through the cage to touch and choose me. With a bad case of demodex mange, kennel cough that worsened to near pneumonia, and the unwise decision of the pound to spay her she was handed to us nearly dead. Six months later after incredible intensive care she became the most fully healed, beautiful, unconditionally loving, companion one could hope for. Her name is Heart.

    Not soon after we adopted Justice from a rescue organization. He has a congenital digestive disorder called megaesophagus which, in his case, is quite treatable when someone like me who works out of the house can tend to his needs. What a magnificent dog.

    So, yes, the cast always, the imperfect, the sick, and the otherwise unwanted, the too old not a cute puppy become the best. Adopt.

    Thanks for what you do here. Thanks for the opportunity to re-ground myself in what is important.


  12. Pete-
    I can so relate to the story of your German Shepherd. Ours, Joey, died quite unexpectedly a month after yours did. Fortunately my wife and I were both there when he howled and expired.
    It’s hard to believe that, given how much and how long his loss hurt, the joy he gave us more than made up for it. Their reputation as friends is entirely deserved.
    Keep up the good work I only take rescue dogs, and urge others to do likewise. Buying dogs from breeders only encourages them There are good breeders, but too many bad ones and too many in all. I don’t think a grassroots boycott will threaten the German Shepherd (or other breeds) anytime soon. We’ll worry about that if it happens.

  13. Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull


  14. Pete/Dave,

    You see that’s what so important about dogs. Men starting using expressions like, “the opportunity to re-ground myself” and “how much and how long his loss hurt”!
    When I think of the relationship that you had, and I have, with a German Shepherd, one instinctively knows about the magic of that day, tens of thousands of years ago, very a hungry wolf was tempted in to warm itself by man’s fire and then stayed, becoming forever our guardians and our companions.

  15. Sorry you lost your dog.

    I’ve noticed that, as puppies, dogs are very independent for such a young animal. (Compare an 8 week old dog to your own 8 week old child!) Yet as dogs grow older, they seem to become less independent. The bonding between human and dog goes both ways. The dog learns to become more and more dependent on their human.

    So while the kids grow up and move out, the dogs move in and become dependent. As SteveM observes, their only flaw is that we out live them.

  16. James,

    Zoey, the border collie who adopted my wife and me a few years ago at around age eight or nine (ever the lady, she won’t reveal her exact age), wanted me to tell you she is sad about Dauber.

    Your post reminded of a comment on a Bill Moyers special a few years back: “Grief is the tax on love.”

  17. I’m so sorry for your loss. My sister’s family prematurely lost their treasured lab mix last month and are feeling the loss immensely. One thought to share: because of their short life, dogs teach you that you can fall in love again.


  18. What a touching story – I am sorry to hear of your loss.

    I have also adopted older dogs – in fact I have to bike home right now to let my pal outside and give her a big hug.

  19. I feel it, too. We adopted a dog, who is now twelve (he looks a little like yours, but a different color). Our children have told us that “Max is the best thing that ever happened to this family.” For some reason, we’ve been happier and more generous, too,(especially with each other) since he became part of the family.


    The best friends group is located in southern utah and they have acres upon acres of land for dogs, cats, horses, and more. I grew up in Kanab which is about 5 miles away from the site. If you want to donate I know these guys care about the animals they take care of. It is also a great place to volunteer, especially in septempter since tourist season has passed and it’s still relativly warm. see zions, north rim of the grand canyon, and bryce canyon.

  21. James,

    Sincerest sympathy in the loss of your dog. It takes a very special person to see what you saw in him. More important, perhaps, is that it takes a very special person to place importance on what he so obviously gave back to you. A prayer has been said at this end both for you and for him. Only one aspect of your relationship with him was temporal, I’m certain. I won’t have to tell you about the other part. God bless you.

  22. James, my deepest condolances on the loss of your pet. They definitely become family members.

  23. James-

    I am very sorry for your loss. I hope that many happy memories of Dauber are of some comfort.

    I still think of happy times with my pal Hector 35 years later.


  24. James,

    I visited this blog for the first time when I saw the headline as a link from another economics blog, being a dog-lover (and animal-lover in general) myself.

    Condolences on your loss and big-time kudos on adopting Dauber despite his issues, and kudos on your post encouraging similar choices.

    I rescued two cats from bad situations (one and nine years ago, respectively) and kept them both, and I consider myself the lucky one.

  25. You have my utmost sympathy. We have laid to rest four cats and are currently sharing a home with an Aussie-Chow-??? mix from the Humane Society.

    Pets are great additions to any household. It’s unfortunate that they have such a short lifespan, because they add so much to one’s life.

  26. Great post. I’ve personally had eight of my dogs pass away over the 30 years since my birth. They were all truly family members.

  27. Our “fur-children” are our children also. So rewarding to have them in our lives, so heartbreaking when we lose them. I hope the understanding and compassion so many people have posted is of comfort to you.

  28. So sorry to hear about Dauber. It’s a good thing he found a good little home with y’all for 8 years. I agree with you when you say that people should go to the animal shelter and try and adopt dogs from there.

    I do hope you are planning on getting another dog soon. I hope that lil doggie is just as cute, cuddly and a good companion as Dauber was. :)

  29. I’m sorry, James.

    My Atalanta has been on glucosamine for two months now…. has started barking at coyotes and flagging her
    tail once more, but…. I know…. Her “brother,”
    Hippomenes, nudges her for play, but, even he, is more
    tentative, gentle, than he once was.

    None of us are getting out of this gig alive…..
    Lady in Red (too old… smile.)

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