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Choosing a Dog or a Puppy and Bringing it Home

Things to consider, items you might want, and your obligation to vaccinate and register

So, now that you're ready to take the next step, what are you looking for in a dog?  And more importantly, what can you offer in return?  Are you an Action Jackson looking for a dog to keep up with you or are you Homer Simpson's lazy brother?  Are you somewhere in between and don't know what you want?  You must honestly consider what type of dog will blossom in your home.  If you live on the road, maybe a smaller dog would be easy to take along.  If you are a trucker, maybe you'd like a protection dog to ride along.  If you work, then maybe an older dog that's already trained is the one for you instead of a puppy.  If you have a family, maybe that puppy is the best choice.  Something to grow along with the kids.  What is your financial situation?  Smaller dogs do eat less and are easier to medicate.  Their crates cost less.

How much time do you have to exercise your pet?  Are you willing to get a dog with a contunously-growing coat or a thick, shaggy coat that will require grooming?  Can you handle a more aggressive dog or need one that's not going to challenge you?

Here are your choices.

Reputable Breeders

Notice that I said reputable.  I'm not talking about the idiot (for lack of a better word) who has two mediocre rottweilers and breeds the female three times a year or even two regularly.  I'm not talking about any person who has two papered dogs who breeds them for the money.  You know the type.  Their puppies are often $250.00 to $350.00 and the parents have been having a litter every year, and they can't tell you where last year's litter even is.  You don't think this is irresponsible?  Ask yourself, how many dogs of that particular breed (whichever breed it may be) can go out into the local community before it's saturated?  Remember, the ASPCA itself has found that 25% of its shelter dogs are purebreds.  I only ask that you don't buy a dog from anyone who can't tell you where the last couple of litters' members are and how they are doing presently.  Believe me when I tell you, a good breeder will follow his or her pups' lives even if the owners are on the other side of the country.  And, most often than not, a decent-bred purebred dog is going to cost well over $350.00.

The Classifieds "free" section

Many times a family decides to move, and for whatever reason doesn't take the dog with them.  Follow the free ads and you will often find a purebreed if that's what's important to you.  I'm south of Seattle, and I see free ads for purebred dogs all the time.  You might find a wonderfully-trained and loved dog this way.  People who take the time to put an ad in the classifieds to place their pet may care more where their pet goes.  And, the dog might have its shots and be already registered, another cost that you won't have to bear.

Another thing to consider is that whatever type of dog it is, the owner will know its temperament and if it's good with children or if it's not.  While dogs may undergo a period of adjustment, taking in a free-ad dog has many advantages, and knowing what to expect from that particular animal is one of them.

Even if someone puts a dog up in the paper because it soils the house or chews, ask questions such as how often the dog was taken out and what type of entertainment it was provided.  I've seen people in the military bemoan their dog's behavior or house-soiling only to find out no one lets the dog out and gives it nothing to chew!  Jeebus people, what do you expect?  A trial period may be possible if a certain puppy or dog steals your heart.


This is one of my favorite ways to get a dog!  Here you have dedicated people taking dogs in that often have nowhere else to go, dogs with medical needs, abuse cases, abandoned dogs and puppies, and they give these animals a second chance at life.  Rarely will you find a puppy in a rescue; I most often see older dogs, and this breaks my heart.  Can you imagine giving a dog away because it's gotten older?  Here is an animal that's given you its entire life, and you dare to abandon it when its senior years come.  GatorX is in senior years (he turns ten this May 2010), and I wouldn't dream of giving him away.  He's my best friend.  In rescues, you have the chance of adopting someone's turned out best friend.

There is almost always a fee to adopt a rescue dog, but you are usually getting a dog that's been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and has recieved medical attention.  To spend money on a rescue dog, in my opinion, is a noble thing.

The only real and viable complaint I have with rescues is that sometime you will encounter one run by people who are too strict with their dogs.  The goal of a rescue should be to place animals in decent homes, not to stand in judgment to the point that few dogs get adopted out.  We tried to adopt a pug from the Seattle Pug Rescue in 2007, but the couple who was slated to do our in-home visit didn't come out; the husband flat out refused to come to our home because we had 'pitbulls'.  First, Gator is an American Bulldog.  Second, Sadie is just as much whippet as she is pitbull.

We ended up buying a Boston Terrier (something I said I'd never, ever do) because my daughter fell head over heels in love with a puppy.  I have pictures of Gator and Carlton, who was ten weeks at the time, sitting together.  If anything, Carlton gives Gator shit, not the other way around.  I look at Carlton today and am happy that he's with us; and yet, I wonder about the pug we could have brought home as well.  The Seattle Pug Rescue's inability to get over Gator and Sadie's size cost them an opening in their rescue for another dog.  They judged us unfairly.  In fact, we didn't even get a chance to be judged.

I sent them pictures of Carlton with Gator after we brought him home, asking for the pictures to be put into our file, should we want to adopt in the future.  I figured they would show that our dogs aren't bloodthirsty beasts and that should rethink their prejudices.  Oh  hell, who am I kidding; I also got a snarky bit of satisfaction out of saying "Lookit what you turned down."

If you do desire to bring a dog home from a rescue, be prepared for the possibility of  having an in-home visit and to be scrutinized.

Shelters and The Pound

Your local shelter or pound always has puppies.  I  bet you would find puppies in your local pound right now, the result of an unplanned pregnancy because someone didn't have their dog spayed or under wraps during estrus.  Of the dogs brought into the pounds, most of them are euthanized , even though they are healthy and able to be adopted out.  There simply aren't enough homes.  But, you could save one, and that's a wonderful thing to do.

Shelter dogs can be skittish and afraid.  If you go this route, be sure to ask to see the dog in a separate room outside of the kennel and away from all its noise.  There are tests that you can perform on a dog to determine its temperament.  You will most likely have to pay a fee for a shelter dog also, but again, it's going to be much smaller than paying for even a mediocre purebred dog.

My mommy bought me for fifty buck from a Florida farm - I'm a Jerry Springer Dog!


....if it's not covered in pet hair, it probably isn't mine....

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