Unfortunately, many pets arrive into a new home with little advanced planning. For instance, a friend of mine recently had to euthanize her retriever. Although he was a young dog he was riddled with bone cancer.
They currently have a home on the market and are living in a motor home—so imagine her surprise when her husband brought home a new puppy.
Not exactly the best timing.
In most cases people are ruled by emotion when adopting a pet. In this case the husband had good intentions but the timing could have been better for bringing a new puppy into the family.
I imagine that the new movie, Beverly Hills Chihuahua will probably spark a big wave of breed purchases by people who become enamored with the small critters on the big screen.
Every animal movie tends to spark that interest and then tons of the ill placed pets end up abandoned in animal shelters because they were not a good fit.
It is more practical to learn about a pet before getting one and understand how it will fit into your lifestyle. Size, energy levels, and personality are really important.
This is where a background check can be of benefit.
A background check means looking into the breed of the pet you want to adopt and what skills and traits that animal will have BEFORE you get a pet.
In the case of adopted dogs, getting as much information from the shelter or foster home is crucial.
Taking a guess at breed mixes of rescued pups is sometimes all you can do. Best guesstimates can help.
For instance, a new client called me for help with a “German shepherd mix.” When I arrived, I found it to be a Belgian malinois mix.
The body type, marking, and traits were clues. Armed with this knowledge it helped to get the new owner to understand the habits that her dog was exhibiting. Having the right information helps mold proper behavior and gets an animal integrated successfully.
The national favorite in the United States is the mixed breed—both dogs and cats.
Consider visiting one of the many animal shelters around the nation. You can volunteer to help exercise shelter dogs or play with the shelter cats before you adopt one.
If you are looking for a great pet this is the place to see a variety of animals (about 25% are purebreds) while helping mold them into better adoptable critters.
In general, I don’t recommend purchasing young puppies or kittens from backyard breeders or pet stores due to the puppy mills and humane issues.
If you are set on a purebred, the breed rescue groups are great sources of information. They can tell you what problems are most exhibited by the breed and what type of household they need.
Often you can get a complete history on the dog or cat and they help you decide on what animal might be the best match.
If you are not sure what purebred critter you are looking for, attend professional dog shows or cat fancier events. It is a great way to meet handlers, breeders, and the purebreds.
In addition, you can chat about the challenges and traits of the breeds that catch your eye.
In most cases, adopting agencies or breeders will require that new pet parents sign a contract that obligates you to return the pet if it is not a good fit.
Taking a bit of time to do a background check on the pet that attracts your eye is a humane action.
If you are looking for a dog you might read the following dog books of interest:
Choosing a Dog for Dummies, Successful Dog Adoption, and Adopting a Dog: The Indispensable Guide for Your Newest Family Member