With the shelter over population across the country and over 4.5 million pets euthanized each year, adopting a pet is one of the best things you can do to help solve this problem.
When it comes to dogs, there’s really nothing like a rescue dog! You won’t regret it! By adopting a rescue, you are not only changing a life; you’re saving one! The saying “who rescued whom” holds true. Rescue dogs know you saved them and accepted them for who they are. In return, they will give you love like you never knew you could ever have- true, unconditional love! But, there are some things to be aware of, so you and your new family member can have a long, happy life together!
- Ask yourself some questions:
- How much time do I have to dedicate to a dog daily for walks, playtime, feeding, etc.?
- Do I have issues with excessive dog hair? Or things like having holes dug in my yard?
- Do I have any health issues that may be affected by the presence of a dog such as allergies?
- Who will take care of my dog when I travel?
- Am I financially prepared for a dog that typically costs about $2,000 per year?
- Am I financially prepared for emergencies, which could cost at least $300 or more than $1,500?
- Am I willing to put time and money in to training, a dog walking service, pet care?
- Are there any pet restrictions where I live?
Knowing what you can expect will help you decide if adopting a dog is right for you and your current lifestyle. We recommend getting pet insurance so you can get some of those unexpected out-of-pocket expenses back. We can also recommend that you get familiar with at least two good pet sitters to take care of your precious pup while you’re away.
- Don’t expect your new pet to be an overnight success. Animals need time to adjust to their new environment, acclimate with any existing pets, get to know where the door or litter box is located, and get to know you. No pet is perfect, so be prepared to spend time with training and getting your new pet set in its new routine (see our next point about setting a routine). Most important: BE PATIENT! They may make some potty mistakes at first, or chew your favorite pair of shoes. You are responsible for your new pet’s behavior so there will be some due diligence on your part to make sure you walk your new dog frequently and keep valuables out of reach. It takes time for a new pet to settle in, so be prepared to give him/her a good 6 months before you decide to throw in the towel and return it to the rescue.
- Make sure to do proper introductions with your existing pets. If you already have a resident dog(s) or a cat(s), make sure you do proper introductions with your new dog. If you are adopting a dog from a shelter, remember that he or she has just come out of a very stressful environment, and resident pets may be territorial. Make sure to give your new dog time to decompress in a quiet place in your home where he or she won't be disturbed by too much activity or other pets. You also want to keep your new dog separated as they may start showing signs of common contagious illnesses such as kennel cough or Upper Respiratory infection, which is common in dogs just coming out of a shelter and easily treatable with antibiotics. Once you feel that they are healthy, introduce your resident dog and your new dog on neutral territory and not in the home where your resident dog may be territorial. Do pack walks so they can get to know each other and bond. If you have cats, keep your new dog in a crate and allow your cat to establish his or her territory while allowing your new dog to get used to his or her new feline friend.
- Get ready, set a routine! If you have a family, kids that need to get to school in the morning and a drive to work in the morning, just make sure you add in time for your pet. A dog needs to be fed and benefits the most from a morning walk, so add in about 30-45 minutes to your already busy morning schedule to make sure your pup can go potty, get some exercise and have his/her puppy breakfast.
- You want to make sure your dog is right for your environment – not just in your home, but the neighborhood in which you live. What is your neighborhood like? Is it pet-friendly? Does it allow all breeds? Are there hiking trails or dog parks nearby? How close is the closest vet or emergency vet? Are there opportunities to socialize your new dog with the neighbors’ dogs? You want to make sure you and your new dog have plenty of opportunities to meet, greet, play and acclimate to your surroundings.
- Does the dog you’re interested in adopting match your energy level? It is important to understand the energy level of any dog. If you’re active and like to hike, run and exercise with you dog, or if you don’t lead a very active lifestyle, you need a dog that complements that. It is important to choose a dog that best fits your activity level.
- Does the dog you’re interested in adopting match your physical ability? It is important to understand the strength of a dog and whether you are physically fit to handle a strong and large breed, or if you may only have the strength and ability to handle a small to medium dog. You need to be honest with yourself and be aware of your abilities. It is important to choose a dog that best fits you physical ability and to keep in mind that the dogs that you might have gotten experience with in the past, may not necessarily be the right fit for the future.
- Don’t make an emotional decision. Everyone wants a puppy. Who doesn’t fall for a dog that comes up to them, tail wagging, full of love? We love our friends’ dogs and think they’re perfect, without really knowing all the work that they are putting into making them into the perfect pet. Make sure you are making a well thought out decision to get a dog. After all, a pet is for life – not just while it’s a puppy or until it’s not young and cute anymore. You are making a life long commitment and bringing in a new member of the family, for the pet’s life and yours no matter what future circumstance you may face. Make sure the decision is well thought out and not just based on emotion.
Adopting a dog can be one of the best and most rewarding experiences in your life. A dog brings so much happiness with added health benefits. If you do it right, you can look forward to a lifetime of love, contentment, peace and joy.