The time has come to bring a puppy into your family. Armed with countless hours of internet research, you’ve narrowed down the perfect breed and the exact puppy store to buy him at – you even have a name already picked out! It sounds like you have everything you need to be on your way to tail-wagging puppy kisses in no time. However, before you decide to go over to the nearest pet shop or dog breeder, and shell out hundreds of dollars for a pup, please reconsider taking a look at your local rescue or animal shelter.
The saddest eyes live within the confines of animal shelter cages. True, most of them are happy to be alive long enough to see their next bowl of kibble, but this is one of the most stressful times a dog might ever experience in his life. As anyone with a dog knows, they live their lives through their noses. In fact, it’s been our experience that a dog sound asleep, four rooms over, with his paw covering the top of his ear can still smell food being placed in his dish with lightning fast reaction. A simple walk in the park, a meet-and-greet with another canine friend or an encounter with a suspicious-looking creature (Squirrel!) is all treated to the same olfactory once-over. So imagine what a shelter must smell like to a dog – the waste, the chemicals to clean the cages and even the euthanized pups in another room – all things considered, this is clearly not a pleasant environment. However, a world without animal shelters would be a sad place indeed. For it is animal shelters and dog rescues that do the, oftentimes, thankless work of uniting a dog with his forever home. And as any dog will surely convey to you, there is no greater love than for the family who saves your life.
Did you know that between 9-11 MILLION-YES, MILLION animals are euthanized each year!
There are a countless number of advantages to adopting a dog from your animal shelter, but foremost is the fact that animal shelters find out as much information as possible about the dog before adopting them to a family. Is this dog going to do well with children? How does he react around other animals (like that territorial kitty cat you have sleeping on your couch!)? Does he have any special needs (such as birth deformities or chronic illness)? Is he housebroken? Has he been trained?
Animal rescues are often breed-specific. Therefore, if your family is set on a certain breed, you can easily find a rescue in your area that specializes in the care of pugs, chihuahuas, rottweilers, or any other of your choosing. Regardless of whether you prefer to go to a shelter or a rescue, it is important to research dog breeds and their characteristics before settling on one that matches your family members’ ages, the activity level within your household, the type of home you have, etc. While a dog’s personality may appear to be one way while inside the shelter, it can very easily change upon feeling more comfortable within your home – you don’t want to be taken by surprise when a dog begins exhibiting behavior that is ingrained in his DNA.
Additional PROS are that many shelters and rescues take the time to explain caring for your new family member, offer classes on behavioral issues and even give you tips to make the transition from shelter to home much smoother. A key factor to remember is that time will heal along with love and training. Dogs forgive the ills that have been bestowed upon then. Puppy stores, frankly, do not care about the well-being of the dogs once the cash register closes the sale. It’s not a matter of these business owners being bad people, there’s just not a lot of money in FREE advice on how to acclimate your dog to his new home, or vice versa (Read: Donate generously and often to your local animal shelter!).
Of course, a dog from an animal shelter requires a family that is truly ready for a dog. Much like humans who must endure tragic life events, dogs who have been through their version of hell require being handled with kid-gloves. Accidents on the carpet, chewing up an expensive couch, or seemingly endless nights of whimpers and howls are not behaviors of a dog who is trying to aggravate you or your family. Some may have fear aggression issues, or dislike a particular sex due to the way it was treated in its past life. Expect some degree of a dog who is dealing with anxiety. He very much needs your love, guidance and patience as he adjusts to his new home (Take heart, he WILL adjust to your home). As you likely know, dogs are loyal and loving at their core. These first few months may be challenging for everyone involved, but you are developing an unconditional love that will last his whole life – and it is worth every sleepless moment.
We’ve talked a lot about “dogs” in this article, but what if you don’t want a dog? What if your family really wants a puppy? Puppies are great, but Wisconsin Pet Care implores you to be sure that you are prepared for a wild and free puppy. A family that may be ready for puppy has 1)Had a dog before. 2)Is prepared to train the puppy and/or take him to a professional trainer. 3)The time, energy, space within their home and personal health to ensure that the puppy has an outlet for his ENDLESS energy. 4) Will be able to let him out starting at 12 weeks every 2 hours, minimum and have someone to care for them while you are at the office. It’s unfair to think a puppy, 12 weeks or less can hold its bladder for an entire day. Best to adopt a senior if this is the case, as many senior dogs need loving homes.
Regardless of age or breed, Wisconsin Pet Care urges you to think about adopting a dog before even considering a puppy store or from a breeder companion. Work with the shelter or rescue to find the dog that’s right for your family and keep visiting our site each week as we bring you information on the health, wellness and behavior of your pet. We would be happy to suggest several local groups that we have partnered with to find your next best friend! www.petfinder.com or Tailwaggers911.com rescue are two great places to start.