ADOPTING A DOG (Tips from Elise Lufkin, author of Second Chances)

If you are thinking about adopting a dog, there are several important steps that can help make this important endeavor successful, both for you and for the dog you choose.

  1. Define for yourself precisely what you are looking for in a dog. How do you see a dog sharing your life?
  2. Be as realistic as possible about how a dog will actually fit into your life. How much time do you have to devote to care, exercise, grooming, and training? If you work all day and have obligations in the evenings, you might want to consider adopting a cat instead.
  3. Learn about different breeds and what you can expect from them. This can be helpful in evaluating mixed breeds as well as purebreds. Try not to fall in love with a look. Consider temperament, activity and size, as well as what the particular breed is designed to do.
  4. Consider the expense involved. Shelter personnel and/or a veterinarian can help you anticipate, at least in a general way, the cost of owning a dog. A good quality food is important, and there will always be medical bills. Training classes are essential.

Once you have evaluated your situation, decided that you do want to look for a dog, and have a sense of what kind of a dog you would like, what next?

  1. Talk with the people caring for the animals (vets with adoptable dogs, shelter personnel, etc.). Explain what you are looking for. Ask about the dog’s history and temperament. Remember the importance of making a good match, and don’t adopt simply because you feel sorry for a homeless animal.
  2. If you are interested in a specific breed, inquire at shelters. Purebreds do turn up there.
  3. Consider adopting an adult dog, even an older adult. Older adults have usually settled down, and that’s a nice feature. With an adult dog, you may get a better sense of how he or she will turn out, allowing, of course, for temporary adjustment to a new home.
  4. Check the Internet, searching key words such as dog adoption, animal shelters, etc.
  5. Do not bring children, especially young ones, with you to help choose a dog. It is a sure route to an impulse choice that you may regret later. Wait until you have a good idea of the dog you want, then bring the children along to see how the dog and the children interact.
  6. Visit the dog several times before making a decision. Take him or her for walks if possible. Notice how the dog responds to other dogs and to people, including you.
  7. If you feel at all unsure, go to other shelters and look at other dogs. Take your time. Think about it. Sleep on it.