So you want a dog? Or the kids do? There are many things to take into account when choosing a canine companion. Cost, care and commitment and are all to be considered. If you have arrived at the conclusion that you are ready and able to take care of a dog, don’t shop – Adopt!
There are millions (yes, millions) of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. Many of them will be euthanized because no one wants them. Purchasing a dog from a breeder or someone in the newspaper or on the internet is inexcusable while so many worthy companions face death for simple lack of a home.
Being a purebred and having “papers” is not an important qualification for a canine, in fact, it is a not a desirable quality. Purebreds come with all sorts of problems as a result of breeding. A good book or internet search will give you a frightening list of health problems specific to each breed. Think about it. How healthy would you be if your parents and grandparents mated with each other and you had kids with your brothers and sisters, or first cousins? In order to produce a specific look, similar dogs are bred together giving the origin of the species a whole new meaning! Mixed breeds have at least a fighting chance of avoiding some of these health problems.
When you visit the shelter, you must consider basic issues such as the general size of the dog – no Rottweiler/Great Dane mixes in a small apartment, no fragile Yorkiepoos for your 3 year old to pound on – but beyond the most general requirements, open your heart and your mind to the dogs who need a family. If you shop for a dog like you shop for a pair of shoes both you and the dog will be disappointed. Breed, color, age, sex and less important than you think.
Since every dog should be spayed or neutered (and most shelters will make sure you take care of it) sex will not a big issue. Spaying and neutering reduce aggression and roaming in males and eliminates the messy heat cycle for females and reduces certain cancers in both sexes.
A dog who is over a year old is a great choice for a family. Puppies are cute, but a lot of work. An older dog is capable of understanding and potty training and obedience training much more readily. Older dogs have a hard time getting adopted so please don’t turn your back on them. All dogs need to be trained and a lack of training is entirely unimportant. You and the dog will bond further in the process of learning basic commands and the rules of the house.
Look into the eyes of the dogs in the shelter. When your heart says yes, ask to meet the dog and make a decision based the bond you feel with the dog. So it’s not a Golden Retriever like the Smith’s down the block. WHO CARES? When you save a life, you make a forever friend and have a special bond that cannot be purchased from a breeder or pet shop. You teach your family important values that living things like people and dogs are not to be bought and sold like designer clothing, cars and other inanimate objects.
If you are ready, find your next family member at a local shelter soon.