Small dogs, especially mine, have big issues

We adopted Rufus three years ago. He was abandoned when he was three, saved from a high–kill pound, then fostered by an animal rescue until I saw him on the Internet and fell in love.

He was the cutest rescue dog I had ever seen, but when I picked him up, he almost bit me. Was this why he was up for adoption? On top of that, he wasn’t really pad-trained. Yes, he went on the pads, his foster mother assured me, but also off the pads. He still does.

Rufus is a reality check. I do everything to make him happy but he remains catlike, expecting me to feed him continuously. And he is anything but affectionate. Alas he prefers his “daddy” Irwin to me although I’m the one who loves to cuddle him.

Yes, Rufus has issues. No dog comes without issues and if you’re adopting one, you need to realize Small dogs, especially mine, have big issues that. Smaller dogs have their own set of issues. They bark at strangers who come to the house and strangers (dogs and people) they “bump into” on the street. He needs to be on a short leash and led to the side.

Rufus is a good looker and many people stop to appreciate him and want to pet him. Although he has nipped at my visitors’ ankles as they come into the house (I’m not kidding) I’m pretty sure he would be okay with being petted by a stranger on the street — but why take chances?

Rufus wants to eat all the time. Because of this sad tendency he is overweight and we are constantly trying to put him on a diet. Winter is tough for him, the snow and ice is hard on his little feet and no, he won’t wear boots. But the upside is that he’s okay with being dressed in a coat and he absolutely loves his walks with Irwin. Little dogs are portable, another upside, and I take Rufus with me whenever I can. He has a carry case that zips up allowing for him to breathe in comfort.

He loves to come to the office but if someone comes to the door, he barks and that’s not good for business so he’s only welcome Fridays. Another issue is his sense of territoriality. If he’s given a chew bone, he will hide it and when he “finds” it, we don’t get close, even if he’s on our bed! He growls at us in a menacing way. I mean, who does he think he is? I recognize he has his personality.

He’s not like Diego, who loved to be cuddled and now lives with my daughter Amy in downtown LA, or like Becky who lived until the age of 15, loved curling up and was our office lap dog in those years when our offices were on Decarie. We still miss Becky. But Becky wasn’t perfect either. Let me be the first to tell you that Becky was never properly house-trained. After all is said and done and picked up and mopped up, the central “issue” with small dogs for me has always been housetraining.

If anyone knows of a small dog who is perfectly housetrained or 100% pee-pad trained, please let me know how you did it.

All in all, Rufus is a great little guy — with big issues! All dogs have them but I’m getting the impression after living with three small dogs that small dogs have bigger issues than big dogs! Remember: there is no perfect dog. Dogs are like people; they come with their strengths and weaknesses.

If you would like to tell the story of your rescue dog, big or small with big or small issues, send it to with “My rescue dog story” in the subject line. Maximum length: 300 words. Sorry, no purchased dog stories allowed.

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