The Doggie Diaries - Dealing With A (Very!) High Energy Dog

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The Doggie Diaries Dalmatian high energy dog pictureBen Westhoff

Each week, Ben Westhoff shares the ups and downs of owning Pippi, the 11-month-old Dalmatian mix he and his wife Anna adopted in late 2009, and the first dog Ben's ever had.

One of the first stories I wrote at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch during my internship there in 1997 was about dalmatians. Disney's live-action version of "101 Dalmatians" had come out the previous year, and kids and parents who saw the film fell in love with the breed and began adopting loads of the dogs.

Six months down the line, animal shelters were overflowing with dalmatians. It turned out many didn't have what it took to care for the rambunctious breed. "People can't give them the time and energy that's needed to raise them," Katherine McGowan of the Humane Society of Missouri told me. "Six months later, dalmatians aren't in the cute puppy stage anymore."

Anna and I have no intentions of giving back Pippi, of course, but we can sometimes sympathize with those who find the dalmatian's high-octane approach to the world a bit exhausting. As we've noted before, Pippi demands a lot of exercise -- with our active participation -- every day. This is a dog (and a breed) that needs physical and mental stimulation, variety and challenge. If she doesn't get that, she takes to pacing, romping, jumping up on us, and shredding everything from paper towels to underwear. Since I work from home, it can be hard to concentrate when she does these things, but if I shut her in the kitchen, she ends up whining and scratching the door.

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