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It’s National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month!

Adopt a Dog Month


The signs are clear. You’ve been scouring YouTube for funny dog videos. You stop people on sidewalks who are walking their dogs and ask permission to pet them. You pass dog parks dreaming of the day you’ll have a furry friend to take there. Basically, you’re looking to fill a dog-sized hole in the fabric of your family life. It’s time to consider taking the plunge and welcoming a dog into the family—what better time than October, National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month?

Why Adopt?
Millions and millions of pets each and every year end up in shelters. Overloaded and overcrowded, shelters do everything they possibly can to provide comfort and a haven for these dogs, but most of these abandoned pets are in desperate need of a forever home. Too many healthy, sound dogs are euthanized each year because they just don’t have anywhere to go. That’s where you come in. If you are ready for a dog, please consider adoption. In many cases you are not just providing a good home for a dog—you may be saving his life.

Finding the Perfect Dog for Your Lifestyle
There are few people who don’t have the impulse to run to the nearest shelter and scoop up the first dog they see. But it’s important to take the time to consider which dog will best fit in with your family and lifestyle. Shelters will do their best to match you up with a good fit, but think about the following before you set off for your local shelter:

What is your activity level? This may be the number-one question to ask yourself. Getting a dog who doesn’t match your energy level is a recipe for disaster. If you are looking for a low-key dog who doesn’t need tons of exercise, avoid sporting, herding, or terrier-type dogs unless the shelter workers have tagged him as “mellow.” Otherwise you may end up with a dog who needs hours of exercise each day. If you’re hoping for a jogging partner, stay away from short-nosed dogs or toy dogs—they won’t be able to keep up.

How often are you home? Do you have a long commute to work? Is the house empty all day, or is someone home? No dog wants to be left home alone all day, and if you are considering adopting a puppy or juvenile, you will need to provide him with extra time and attention during the day. Even an older dog who is thoroughly housetrained shouldn’t go for hours on end alone. If someone else is home during the day, you have an advantage; if there’s not, you may need to look into a pet sitter, dog walker, or doggy daycare.

Do you have other pets? Do you have children? Well-run shelters perform a lot of temperament testing on their dogs to see if they react to different types of adults, children, cats, and other dogs. Do not go against their advice. If they suggest that a certain dog does best in a quiet house with no small children around, don’t assume that you can work around this caution. It’s for everyone’s safety that dogs are placed in homes best suited to their temperaments.

Do you have a fenced-in yard? This isn’t always a deal-breaker. After all, plenty of people live successfully in apartments with dogs. You just need to have a plan that includes lots of outdoor walks, potty breaks, and trips to a dog park. If you do have a yard, securely fence it as soon as possible.

Does anyone in the family have allergies? Don’t assume that this automatically precludes you from having a pet. First, go to an allergist and get tested. You may find that you aren’t allergic to all animals. If you have very mild dog allergies, think about adopting a dog with a wiry or curly coat, as these coat types tend to cause fewer allergies. Even better, try fostering a dog first to see if he triggers any reaction.

Do you have the financial means to care for a dog? You’ll need to budget for food, yearly checkups, and emergency vet visits. Take a realistic look at your budget. Estimate how much food you’ll be spending a month to feed your dog. That Great Dane/Mastiff mix you are considering down at the shelter might look great on paper, but think about what it will cost to keep him in kibble! Plus there are yearly trips to the veterinarian, vaccinations, various necessities like collars, leashes, dog beds, etc.—and it all adds up. Don’t adopt a pet you can’t afford. Wait until you are financially secure to make life less stressful for you.

How much time do you have to spend grooming or training? Take a close look at the dog you are thinking about adopting. Does he have long, luxurious hair? Add some extra time to your day for grooming. Is he a puppy or a juvenile? You will definitely need to spend time housetraining and teaching him basic manners. If this sounds like fun and you are up for the challenge, then go for it. If it sounds like a chore you just won’t have time for, consider a dog with a short, easy-to-care-for coat and who’s already had some training.

Adopting a dog can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. Find a shelter with a good reputation and make an appointment with one of its experts. As long as you’ve thought about your lifestyle and what is important to you, you’re sure to find the perfect match!

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