Dogs are a benefit to our lives. They have been our companions for an extremely long time, with some estimates for the beginning of their domestication stretching back 30,000 – 40,000 years. Over those many, many years our species have developed a pretty special relationship. Of all other creatures on earth, only the domestic dog can use our eye movements as cues to locate items or something of interest. Not even other primates can do so.
Maybe you want to adopt a dog for your kids, maybe you want to adopt a dog for yourself, or maybe you want to adopt a dog as a companion for a dog your already own. We think dog ownership helps us grow through teaching us to care for something outside of ourselves, something that wouldn’t be able to survive without your help. That being said, there are a couple of questions you should ask yourself before you take that step.
Adopting a dog is a serious commitment, and one you shouldn’t take lightly. Depending on breed, dogs can be expected to live from 10 to 15 years, and require food, exercise, attention and companionship, and preventative care. As such, if you adopt a dog you should be prepared financially and emotionally for a commitment of that length.
One might adopt a dog through a breeder, or through a shelter or rescue program. Both of these are reasonable courses of action. When seeking a dog from a breeder, you should thoroughly research the breeds in which you are interested. Adopting a breed whose needs do not fit your lifestyle is a recipe for an unhappy dog and an unhappy owner, and is often a recipe for a purebred dog landing in a shelter. It is not appropriate to be interested in the idea of a breed or the look of a breed, one must also be interested in the behaviors and inclinations of the breed, as well. You cannot realistically separate the “look” of a breed from the “act” of the breed because they have been bred over hundreds or even thousands of years to behave a certain way so that they can do a specific job.
The job a dog was bred to perform has important effects on their behavior. Many breed-specific dog behaviors would be termed neuroses in humans, and if you are looking to adopt a border collie or a Pembroke corgi you should be prepared for obsessive behavior (particularly about movement). Likewise, Labradors want to swim and greyhounds want to run. A responsible owner should be aware of the behaviors that have been bred into their companion so that they can help facilitate healthy expression of those behaviors instead of letting them be channeled towards destructive ends.
Adopting a dog from a shelter is a laudable alternative to purchasing a dog from a breeder. We believe so strongly that adoption and rescue of homeless pets is a benefit to our community and the local homeless pet population that we perform all of the spays and neuters for our municipal animal control authority and offer free wellness exams for shelter adoptions. Even if you are looking for a specific breed, many pure-bred dogs can be found at your local shelters and we can direct you to breed-specific rescue groups, as well.
That is not to say that there are not risks to adopting a shelter pet. Dogs in shelters are typically housed in high-density environments where communicable diseases can easily spread. They may not have received inoculations prior to arriving at the shelter. They may have congenital health problems. As a result, sometimes a shelter pet may have some hurdles to overcome on the way to a happy and healthy life in your home. This is way we always encourage pet owners to take advantage of the free 30 day trial of pet health insurance offered by the major adoption organizations in north Texas. You adopted this pet for a reason, so don’t let the cost of his or her rehabilitation land him or her back in the shelter.
We have decades of experience dealing with every breed imaginable, and decades of experience dealing with the unique challenges of shelter environments. Do you have questions prior to adopting a dog from a shelter, or about choosing between several different breeds? We would love to talk to you and help you arrive at the best decision for you and your family.