Common questions asked when adopting a dog.
Before you think about that, you should consider some other very important questions first:
The answers to these questions will help you define the type of dog you want, making your search a lot easier. Talk to friends and co-workers with dogs to learn about their experiences with certain breeds. Maybe you've always liked how your neighbor's labrador was good with the children, or maybe you've heard how your secretary's dalmation can be destructive when bored. When you have a better idea of what breeds you like, read books and browse Internet sites to learn more about them. Don't just go by looks; pay careful attention to the drawbacks as well as the benefits of each breed.
You have narrowed your list to a few breeds but you're wondering whether you should get a puppy, no matter how much your kids ask for one. With both parents working, who will have the time to housetrain it? A puppy will need to relieve itself about every two hours.
Most adult dogs, on the other hand, may already be housetrained and may even know basic obedience commands, saving you more time and work. Puppies are undeniably cute, but as babies, they require a lot of attention, patience, and supervision. Unfortunately, many people are unprepared for the challenges of puppyhood and decide to give their dogs to shelters.
The advantages of an older dog (over one year) often include not having to deal with the puppy chewing, the mouthing, the accidents in the house, the endless puppy energy, the crying at night, and the hundreds of things a puppy will have to be taught. An older dog will bond with you, often harder and faster than a puppy, because a rescue dog knows what is like to lose his family, or to be kept in an animal shelter, or to live on the streets without the love and affection of a good family. If you decide a puppy is still the only route for you, please keep in mind that the rescue does not often have puppies that are in need of homes. However, we do have a wait list and we will contact you as soon as one is available after your initial application has been submitted and approved. We also have connections with other rescues to whom we can refer you. You can also check with your local vet or the American Kennel Club for responsible breeders.
If you can commit to raising a puppy, you should contact a responsible breeder, shelter, or rescue group instead of going to a pet store. A responsible breeder is one who propagates the breed with careful consideration for the best characteristics of that breed, not just to make money off the puppies. A responsible breeder should screen prospective buyers, be available for questions, and always be willing to take back the puppy at any point in its life. Friends or family members may be able to recommend a breeder, or you can contact a local breed club for a reference. You can find responsible breeders at dog shows; you can also learn more about breed clubs by contacting the American Kennel Club.
Unfortunately, many pet stores consider profit more important than premium care. They also tend not to discriminate when obtaining dogs to sell. Dogs with heart conditions, malnutrition, and parasites have been sold to unwary buyers; at minimum, most pet store puppies have kennel cough and worms, and sometimes temperament problems. Some pet stores claim that they get their pets from responsible breeders, but responsible breeders have built a reputation for their lines and don't need the stores to sell their pups. The truth is, many pet stores obtain dogs from puppy mills, which mass-produce puppies to meet consumer demands. These puppies are not screened for genetic diseases and they and their parents are often kept in deplorable conditions. To learn more about puppy mills, go to the Humane Society of the United States. If you must have a purebred puppy, go to a responsible breeder or a rescue group.
If you are looking for a mature dog, some breeders may have them, but rescue groups and shelters are a better bet. In addition to providing lists of available pets, the sites listed below offer a wealth of information on adopting pets and behavior issues.
Most breeds have a local or regional rescue group as well as national representation. If you were looking for a Siberian Husky, for example, you could go to Siberian Rescue and find links for rescue groups in practically every state, including our own Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue in Pennsylvania.
If you don't have Internet access, look in the phone book or contact the town clerk to find out where the nearest shelter is. Most shelters have local rescue contacts.
Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue group is very rewarding, but be selective about a dog. If you want a reasonably mannered dog about two to three years old that gets along with your eight-year-old son, make sure you get what you want. Don't just fall in love with a dog because he's the saddest or cutest. This dog will be part of your family for many years, so it should be appropriate for your lifestyle. Just remember, shelters and rescues will be just as picky about you. You may want the cuter of two eight-month-old retrievers, but the shelter may urge you to take the other one because it is more suitable for you. Remember, they want to provide a good match and make sure you have the dog for the rest of its life.
You may not get the dog you're looking for on your first try or even your fifth, but finding the right one is worth the effort. And you new family member will thank you for it.
Are you looking for a dog as a gift for someone else? You mean well, but owners choose one dog over another for very personal reasons, and they should be allowed to have a say in the pet who will become a part of their lives for many years.
Consider offering to help them research various breeds of dogs if they haven't already strongly expressed an interest in a specific breed. Not all dogs are alike, they have different energy levels and temperments.
During holiday seasons, many people go on vacation, have several guests visit, or are just too busy to give enough attention to a new pet. Instead of getting a puppy or dog for your friend, spouse, or kids, purchase the items that they will need for their new friend or create a gift certificate good for one dog at the local shelter or rescue group. Then, after the holidays, you both can choose the dog together.
If you really can't wait, or you are certain you can make it work, take the recipient of the dog with you to the breeder or your local shelter and let them choose the dog. If this is a holiday gift, try to bring the dog home at least two weeks before holidays begin so there is a little time for the dog to get used to its new family. Some shelters and breeders may even hold the dog for you until after the holidays.
If you adopt one of the dogs in the care of one of our foster homes, the adoption fee varies depending on the age of the dog and the number of dogs adopted. The adoption fee is used primarily to cover medical expenses such as spays/neuters, vet examinations, blood tests, vaccinations, fecal tests and deworming, heartworm tests, and heartworm, tick, and flea preventive.
In addition to this medical care, you also benefit from our experience with the breed and our continued support with transitioning the dog into your home and helping you with adjusting the dog in his new environment after the adoption. Our goal is to make good, permanent placements. To this end, our foster homes provide other intangibles like crate training, leash training, obedience training, house training, and socialization.
If you adopt one of the dogs that still reside with its owner (and whom we are placing in a new home on a referral basis), the fee is between you and the owner.
If you adopt one of the dogs that are still in a shelter, each shelter sets its own fees; contact the shelter housing the dog for more information.
When you are interested in adopting one of our dogs, you would first fill out and submit an adoption application. Your application is forwarded to one of our volunteers, who calls you to talk about your preferences, describes the dogs that are currently available for adoption and which dog, based on the information you provided on your application, might best fit in with your family, and explains what takes place at an adoption. This volunteer also calls your personal and vet references.
The application does ask for any physical preferences you have, but we are more concerned with the kind of home you can provide and the personality of the dog that will best fit into your home. After the initial application has been approved, the volunteer will call you to set up an appointment for an adoption; a home check is also performed during this appointment. The home check often includes, but is not limited to: checking the fence or looking for any potential escape routes, talking to you about the adjustment period, bringing the potential dog(s) to the home, and seeing how each dog interacts with your family members and with any other animals you have in your home.
After you have chosen a dog, the "second-hand dog" will begin giving his "first-class love." Our group's role is not over at this point; our volunteers provide continued support by making themselves available to all of our adoptive homes for any questions they might have.