Bringing a dog into your life can be a very rewarding commitment. However, the success of your long-term relationship depends on how compatible you and your dog are. It’s a sad reality that many wonderful purebred dogs end up in shelters or with breed specific rescue groups simply because their owners didn’t do their homework properly before adopting them.
To ensure that you and your dog are well matched, you need to truthfully evaluate your lifestyle and the expectations of your new friend before taking the plunge.
Preparing Your Doggy Profile
Make your first homework assignment the creation of a doggy profile that outlines the qualities you are looking for in a canine mate. This is just like compiling a list of attributes in order to find the perfect partner through a dating service.
A Yorkshire Terrier won’t share your enjoyment for long walks on the beach at sunset, but a Border Collies will jump at the chance to be by your side. If you spend more time sitting by the fire than hiking in the woods, a sedate lap dog like a Pomeranian might be the perfect companion. But remember small doesn’t necessarily spell calm. Jack Russell Terriers are hyperactive by nature, while a medium-sized dog such as a Bulldog or even an Old English Sheepdog would be great fireside company.
Important Questions and Answers
What you are looking for in a canine companion also has a lot to do with why you want a dog. Start by grabbing a pen and paper and jotting down your answers to the following questions:
– Are you looking for a beefy bodyguard or a lovable bundle of fur?
– Would the dog have to be a playmate for the kids?
– Are you looking for an exercise buddy and, in particular, a long-distance running mate?
– If you are elderly and live alone, would your doggy pal need to guard the house as well as be your full-time companion?
– Are you looking for a sociable pal that will enjoy accompanying you everywhere dogs are allowed?
– If your dog can accompany you to work, what size and temperament would be most suitable to your job?
– Are you a couch potato looking for a canine companion that will be only too happy to jump up and snuggle in while you read and watch endless hours of TV?
You will also have to honestly assess important personal facts like your financial situation, any existing medical problems such as allergies, the climate where you live, and whether your home can comfortably accommodate a pet. Finally, to the best of your knowledge, will you be able to provide a home for this dog for its projected lifespan?
Sniffing Out Doggy Personality Traits
The next step in your quest for the ideal doggy mate will require research into inherent personality traits in order to narrow the field down to a handful of breeds that match your doggy profile.
Breed specific rescue groups often have booths at local dog shows — this is a great place to gain first hand knowledge about a particular dog’s quirks and characteristics. The volunteers in attendance will be happy to answer your questions. They usually bring along several dogs that are available for adoption which is a wonderful opportunity to interact with them to see if this breed might be a match for you. Sometimes these purebred dogs still have their pedigree papers. However, remember that in terms of adoption policies, rescued dogs must be spayed or neutered before you can take them to their new home.
King of the Castle
The last item on your To Do list is to determine who in the household is going to be head of the Department of Canine Affairs. This is the person ultimately responsible for the dog. Never designate a child who is keen to have a pet. Children cannot be responsible for visits to the veterinarian, or for keeping track of medical records and vaccinations. And as much as your child may promise to take care of a dog’s grooming needs, in reality, the novelty often wears off.
If you end up being the designated caregiver, be honest with yourself and work out how much time you can spare. Apart from daily exercise, some breeds have more time-consuming regular grooming needs than others.
Finally, don’t forget to take into account any existing pets in your household and gauge how accepting they will be of a new addition. For example, if you have a cat, it might be a good idea to test her reaction to a friend’s dog. Certain breeds such as the Siberian Husky are know to be very intolerant of felines. Also, bear in mind that even a very friendly dog doesn’t necessarily want to share her turf with a newcomer. If you are in doubt, it may be best to take advice from an animal behaviorist. This is crucial because so many new pets go back into the adoption system because they were not compatible with the existing menagerie.
All this homework will pay off because it will also prepare you for the type of questions you’re going to be asked by the caring animal shelter and rescue organization workers who will introduce you to your new best friend. Remember, a dog is a friend for life. And when adoption day finally arrives, it’s guaranteed to be a very special occasion.
To help you get started with your profile, go to www.pedigree.com and take the Select-A-Dog quiz. Here’s to a long and happy relationship!