What is MLD syndrome? Some disease you never heard of? Who is subject to it? It’s a human condition, and millions of people have it.

It’s only found among dog owners and is not limited to just men or just women. MLD stands for “my last dog.”

The condition arises when a dog passes away and owners get another pooch. The previous dog, in the owner’s eyes, was near perfect. Hard paws to follow in if you are the new doggie.

The last dog did not jump, bark, pull, bite, chew things, chase, etc. You get the idea.

Some owners believe that dogs are all the same, clones of each other. And because it might be the same breed, all the more so.

Parents need only to think of their children to know that this is, of course, not true. Same breeding, still they all have different personalities.

Another factor might be the age of the dog. They are remembering their last dog as an adult or even a senior and often comparing to a puppy or rescue. Memories are very short when it comes to comparing an old dog to a younger one. Besides that, dogs are all different, period.

When you get a new dog, young or adult, start fresh with no expectations, no comparisons. Each new dog deserves this. For some owners it would mean not getting the same breed that they had before.

Just because it has been the only breed that you ever had, doesn’t mean that it continues to be the best one for you now. A different type helps to limit comparisons.

They should also take into consideration breed traits that are prevalent, although each individual is different. Terriers dig and bark since their job is to hunt small earth animals. Hounds run, bark and jump as part of the chase. Many small dogs bark to get attention or to alert.

While maybe not perfect, some are just better for an owner’s lifestyle and expectations. As we age, getting a dog that requires less exercise and attention is clearly better. If we have infirmities, then a smaller dog that doesn’t pull much should be considered.

Do we want a companion dog to curl up with us, or are we content to have the larger dog lie at our feet? Do you have an active family with kids and lots of outside activities? Then an appropriate dog for activity would be better.

Where do you live? Near access to a park or yard or in an urban environment? As the family grows and ages, a different type of dog might be in order.

In order not to become a victim of MLD syndrome, the best thing you can be is patient and fair. Undoubtedly, you will give your new dog a wonderful home just like the last one.

Keep your expectations reasonable, and you will love your new four-legged family member just as much as the last “perfect dog.”

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training. ajbird@hargray.com