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Book Club – The Happy Adopted Dog

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The Happy Adopted Dog: How to Adopt the Perfect Family Dog by Tammy Gagne, Wayne Hunthausen, DVM (supervising veterinary editor)

By adopting a dog from a shelter or breed rescue you are not only giving him a vital second chance at having a home and a loving family but you also may be saving his life. Pet adoption offers the most rewarding and affordable means of obtaining a pet, and there are millions of wonderful dogs of all types and ages from which to choose, including purebreeds—all you have to do is offer a lifetime of love and good care.

The Happy Adopted Dog provides comprehensive coverage to help prospective dog parents successfully navigate the adoption process. Featuring all newly authored text by an expert on the subject, the book addresses important topics such as where to adopt the perfect dog for you and your family, how to ease the transition to his new home, and how to foster positive relationships with family and other pets. It also describes why adopted dogs may be prone to certain problem behaviors due to lack of training or past neglect and abuse, explains how to deal with established unwanted behaviors while preventing new ones, and sets forth multiple step-by-step solutions and training or retraining tips that empower you to have a well-adjusted and happy pet for life.

This book also features:

  • Free care and training DVD
  • Expert guidance on choosing the right dog for you
  • Complete coverage of adoption resources
  • Advice on managing the special needs of adopted dogs
  • Step-by-step positive training
  • Solutions to problem behaviors

About the Author:

Tammy Gagne is a freelance writer who specializes in the health and behavior of companion animals. In addition to being a regular contributor to several national pet care magazines, she has authored numerous books for both adults and children. She resides in northern New England with her husband, son, dogs, and parrots.

Wayne Hunthausen, D.V.M., consulting veterinary editor and pet behavior consultant, is the director of Animal Behavior Consultations in the Kansas City area and currently serves on the Practitioner Board for Veterinary Medicine and the Behavior Advisory Board for Veterinary Forum.

Book Excerpt: The Benefits of  Adoption

By adopting a dog, you are approaching pet ownership in both a humane and socially responsible way. But adoption is not a matter of sacrifice or settling. Adoption offers countless advantages to dog owners. Most adoptive owners get just as much from their relationships with their dogs as they give. In fact, the more owners put into dog ownership, the more they usually get back from their adopted pets. Many owners consider adoption to be one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.

Making a Difference

The most profound reward of adoption is the feeling an owner gets from knowing that he or she has helped saved a life. Sadly, the majority of animals who are not adopted from shelters within a certain time period are euthanized. By adopting a dog, you not only help an animal by giving him a home, but you also help your community. With the number of animals languishing in shelters across the United States well into the millions, each and every person who chooses to adopt is helping solve the gargantuan problem of unwanted and homeless pets.

Owners who adopt also play an important role in ending the suffering of puppy mill dogs. Puppies bred by these facilities spend the first few weeks of their lives in cages piled several high. They are not exercised or socialized, and they are forced to eat and sleep in crowded conditions. Still, puppies are the luckier ones because they are able to leave once they are old enough to be sold. The parents of these young dogs, however, spend their entire lives in this unpleasant environment. When more people adopt, the demand for puppy mill dogs drops. Making the puppy mill business less lucrative is our best means of lessening the number of breeders who churn out animals purely for profit.

Smart Investments of Time and Money

There are less altruistic (yet still significant) benefits to adoption as well. Puppies, both purebreds and so-called designer breed mixes, can be extremely expensive to buy. Adopting a dog generally entails a nominal fee to cover the cost of feeding and spaying or neutering. But even this fee pales in comparison to the cost of buying a dog from a breeder or pet store. Adoption should never be looked at as a means of finding a bargain, however. You may pay considerably less for a shelter or rescue dog up front, but this is where the savings end. Once you bring him home, your adopted dog will need all the same things as a dog with a higher initial price tag.

One thing owners do save by adopting a dog is energy. While young puppies are certainly adorable, they are also extremely demanding. The task that most puppy owners dread the most—housetraining— is already behind most adult dogs. Even young puppies kept in foster care before being placed with permanent caregivers are usually partially or fully housetrained by the time they go home with their new families. Another challenge of puppyhood— teething— is also a thing of the past for many dogs by the time of adoption.

Most puppies have seemingly endless vigor. If you are an older adult, or simply lack the stamina to keep up with a younger dog, adopting an older pet may suit your lifestyle much better than buying a puppy. Young professionals also often make great matches for older dogs because these more mature pets require less training and constant supervision than their younger counterparts.

Surprisingly Broad Selection

If you have your heart set on a purebred dog, you may wonder if adopting means compromising on this point. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. According to the HSUS, about a third of the dogs in the nation’s animal shelters are indeed purebreds. If you have any trouble finding a particular breed at a shelter, check with your local breed rescue group. These regional organizations specialize in placing dogs of specific breeds.

Hundreds of different dog breeds exist, each with its own unique set of characteristics. From large dogs like the German Shepherd and medium-sized breeds like Dalmatian to tiny dogs like the Papillon, there is a breed to suit virtually any pet lover. Do you prefer an active animal who basks in being outdoors? If so, a Siberian Husky may be right for you. If instead you’d like a dog who prefers cuddling to calisthenics, a Japanese Chin may be out there just waiting for you to find him.

For people who prefer mixed breeds, there are plenty of adoptees to go around as well. Dogs of mixed lineage, commonly called mutts, offer their own special perks. Mixed breeds combine the various qualities of different purebreds. Many owners of these “Heinz 57” varieties insist that mixed breeds have better temperaments than some purebreds. Mutts also tend to be less prone to the numerous health problems that plague a vast number of purebreds.

Dogs in shelters and breed rescues also come in a wide variety of ages. People often assume that all dogs in need of adoption are older animals, but many are actually quite young. The average age of a dog in a breed rescue, for example, is just three years old. Puppies and young adult dogs enter shelters and rescue groups each day, and they need new homes just as much as their elder equivalents. The very thing that makes the unwanted pet population the enormous problem that it is, with millions of dogs in need of new homes, is the reason adoptive owners have such a large selection.

Excerpt from The Happy Adopted Dog: How to Adopt the Perfect Family Dog © 2009 TFH Publications, Inc. Used by permission.

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