Owning a pet is a big responsibility. Deciding to adopt is even a bigger one. According to PETA about 6 to 8 million dogs and cats find their way into animal shelters every year. Unfortunately, about 3 to 4 million of these unlucky, unwanted, or lost pets are euthanized each year. With these sad statistics on the rise, adopting a dog from an animal shelter was the right choice for me. But there were 3 things I needed to consider while making my choice.
Age of the Dog
Puppies are cute and cuddly, but frankly a lot of work. An older dog is more likely to be trained to some extent, especially being house trained for potty breaks. In addition though, some older dogs may have established some bad habits that will need to be addressed. Make sure you ask the right questions when considering a new dog, like a bit of history about the animal, or how long the animal has been at the shelter, or even the circumstances of how they came to be in the shelter. This will give you more information to help you make your choice.
Once you’ve identified a potential candidate, you need to really SEE the dog in action. Shelters usually have an outside area, ask if you can take the dog outside and to see how it will interact with you. It is kind of hard to gauge this when the dog is in a cage. There’s no guarantee that every dog will be a great dog addition to your life, but you should be able to eliminate a bad choice right away. I took at least 3 dogs out, and one of them was just too hyper and wouldn’t settle down even after 15 minutes. Another had the bad habit of jumping on me.
Other Pets in the House
Since there were 6 cats in our house, the new addition would need to get along with cats. At the adoption center I went to, they were really great and allowed me to take the dog I was considering into their cat area to see how the dog would react. If you have cats and get a bad reaction, then it’s not the dog for you. Sometimes, you just can’t teach some old dogs new tricks.
The other pet in our house is an older female black Labrador. So the last test, once we decided on a 4 1/2 year old chocolate lab named Emmit, was to consider how he would get along with our Sheba. The adoption center personnel were wonderful and suggested that we bring our dog up to the center to see how the two would get along.
They got along well, and we welcomed Emmit into our home. It’s been a week now. I can’t say it’s been easy because all transitions have some difficulties, but it’s been an interesting journey. For me though, adopting a dog and giving it a second chance at life was the way to go and a very rewarding experience.