You may not have noticed, but almost all breeds of dogs look alike when they are first born. It takes several weeks before their particular breed traits start to show. So at first, all you really have to go on is color and size.
Don’t let that stop you, because mixed breed dogs will love you just as much as a purebred! Shelters also have dogs that are older, and if you’re not really ready to deal with “the puppy stage,” an older rescue dog might be just what you need.
If you’d like to find a shelter near you, a good place to look is Petfinder.com. Many, if not most, shelters advertise animals for adoption on Petfinder, so you’ll find like minded people and rescues looking for volunteers. Petfinder lets you sort by State and breed, so it’s easy to narrow your search to find a dog near you. And if you’re interested in more than dogs or cats, you might even find a ferret rescue, or a mule rescue!
Last year Best Friends Animal Sanctuary conducted a huge round-up of rabbits. There were so many in one person’s yard that it took weeks to round them up, and they multiplied in the meantime. I’ll bet there are still some rabbits available for adoption, too!
If you really want a purebred puppy, be careful where you buy it. Pet stores and feed stores are the worst place to go!
Pet stores where they sell dogs are not really dog-friendly places. Pet store puppies very often come from “puppy mills” and are the offspring of parents who have not had good care. They have often been exposed to illnesses, and have not had their immunizations. They may have genetic diseases and/or problems because their mothers were malnourished while carrying them. They may or may not carry the bloodlines listed on their registration papers. They also are not usually socialized, so may have a hard time adapting to being handled by a human.
Feed store puppies often come from “Backyard breeders” and may or may not have been immunized before being taken to the store. That means they might be sick before you take them home.
I know one family who paid $50 for a puppy and the next week paid $400 to the veterinarian because the puppy had Parvo. Parvo is a deadly disease that is even more contagious than the common cold. Puppies can have it and be “getting sick” for more than a week before they show any signs. That’s why rescue groups quarantine puppies away from the public until they’ve had their shots.
If you fall in love with a feed store puppy, ask about immunizations. If he hasn’t had them yet, take him straight to the vet before you go home and then follow the vet’s instructions carefully. You’ll need to keep a close eye on him for a couple of weeks, and keep him away from strangers until the immunizations have time to protect him.
I won’t tell you never to take a feed store puppy, because I lived with one for 12 years and loved him dearly. But now I realize we were just lucky that he was healthy. He was the perfect dog for our family. Be alert, be careful, and get to the vet fast at the first sign of lethargy or intestinal upset.
Any reputable breeder of purebred dogs will let you see where the puppies are kept and let you meet their mother. Check to see that she is a friendly, well mannered dog, and of course that she is healthy.
A good breeder will give you health records on your puppy and instruct you about when it needs its next immunizations. Just like baby humans, dogs need a series of shots when they are young.
Remember that when you buy a puppy it probably will not have been spayed or neutered yet, so that is an expense you will have to bear yourself.
Speaking of Pet stores – please don’t confuse them with pet supply stores. The big stores like Petsmart and Petco no longer buy puppies to re-sell in their stores. If you go there and see dogs and cats, you’ll also see representatives from a local animal rescue. That’s because the stores allow them space to show off the rescued dogs and cats who are ready to be adopted into a new home.
Petsmart is so animal-friendly that they have a separate branch called Petsmart Charities that helps small dog and cat rescue groups with funds for spay and neuter. Petco also donates to animal causes.
P.S. Talk to people, listen and learn. But don’t believe everything anyone tells you just because they claim to be an expert. “Experts” say that dogs don’t like to be hugged. But my dogs love it!
P.P.S. If your soft heart has led to to adopt an older dog, and that older dog has stiff joints, please check into the product below. I believe without a doubt that it is the only reason our Ralph dog is running and playing today. Go read all about it, and give it a try – this company offers a money back guarantee, so since it has no drugs and nasty side effects, there’s nothing to lose but your dog’s pain…