In honor of National Dog Adoption Day (November 21st) we're talking dog adoption today! From things to consider when rescuing, what to expect when adopting a dog during COVID-19 and the best rescues in Southern California, read on if you're considering adopting the next furry member of your family.
So, I'm not sure if it's all the holiday feels in the air but I have had some MAJOR puppy fever the past month! Can anyone relate?! We rescued our family dog when I was 13 and through my early adulthood, I couldn't wait to get a dog of my own! I had a very specific idea in mind of getting a mini-Australian Shepherd puppy, but quickly realized that finding one through a rescue was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. So after a lot of research in my first go at "dog mom-ing", I chose the route of finding a responsible dog breeder. I was a little bummed on not being able to adopt but more importantly, was hyper concerned about making the right choice. I've heard horror stories of puppy mills and irresponsible breeders who didn't prioritize the welfare of their dogs and I knew if I went this route, I had to be extra cautious. I ended up finding a family friend of a friend and was able to learn more about "responsibly breeding" through them. While going through a responsible breeder isn't supporting #adoptdontshop efforts, it definitely has it's perks:
- You're able to see where the fur parents live and where the puppies are growing up. I was able to go to the small farm they were being raised at and their indoor and outdoor living conditions.
- You're able to meet their dog parents and siblings. This was very valuable in terms of being able to see the possible future temperament of my dog as well as understanding the history of the family and see their entire liter in action.
- You're able to know the details of their mom and their breeding process. This was a top priority for me as I wanted to make sure that the mom was humanly bred - meaning knowing how many liters she has had in the past - as it's recommended to not breed a dog more than 3 or 4 times.
All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better experience and was grateful to the breeders for being so transparent. If you go this route, ensure that your chosen breeders are willing to disclose any and all information to you so that you can make an educated decision, giving you have peace of mind that they are humanly breeding.
On the other side of the coin, rescuing or adopting a dog, is a totally different ballgame!
Not only is it kind of competitive (dogs can be adopted very quickly or have long waitlists), but there is a high probability that you won't get a lot of answers to your basic questions:
- Who are the dog's parents? Many dogs in shelters come from circumstances where they do not know the dog's parents, making knowing the exact breed of the dog a guessing game.
- How big will the dog get once full grown? This is also related to knowing the dog's parents, and if the rescue doesn't have this information, it's another guessing game based on the information they have or knowledge of the general full grown weight of the breed.
- Are there any behavioral habits that need to be considered? Since it's likely unknown of the dog's full living history, it's hard to say what living conditions they've experienced in the past that could make them sensitive to different things. Were they kept only outside? Were they abused in any way? Did they have a negative past experience with another dog, human or animal? The only way to answer this question is by living with the dog and seeing their natural behavior and instincts.
- Are there any health conditions to be aware of? This is also something that you really only discover after living with the dog. Typically, the shelter or rescue you are getting your dog from has a good idea of their health status, however, unexpected health issues can come up and best guesses can only come from knowing the general health characteristics of their breed.
All in all, there are a ton of questions to consider and adopting a dog should be taken just as seriously as adopting a human.
Aside from the worries, there are however, an endless amount of PROS in adopting a dog. Potentially saving a life (kill shelters are real), providing a dog in need with a safe and happy environment, providing yourself with companionship (emotional support is real), the list can really go on forever. And while I'm no expert, the biggest lesson that I have learned in my quest of adopting a dog is that the most important thing to keep in mind is the safety, health and well being of the dog you are considering.
So to help you on your own quest of deciding if adopting a dog is right for you, here's a list of the top 5 things to consider.
Top 5 Things To Consider When Adopting A Dog
1. Your Current Living Conditions
The first thing you should do if you are looking to adopt a dog is to consider your current living conditions. Do you live in an apartment or a home? Do you rent or own? Do you have indoor and outdoor spaces for your dog? I mention indoor spaces specifically as there are shelters who do not allow you to adopt a dog if you only have outdoor living space. This is usually in an effort to maintain the welfare of the dog. Also, what is the size of your home and is there enough space for a dog to have plenty of room to play and live comfortably? This could determine the breed and full grown size that you want to limit yourself to and keep in mind throughout your search. What family members do you have to take into consideration? Children, your other pets and other pups will effect the type of dog that you should look out for.
*Adoption Tip: Think about the full grown size of the dog you want to adopt. While a puppy can be the cutest and is small, each breed grows at a different rate and it's full grown size needs to be considered to ensure it fits your living conditions.
2. Your Current Schedule
While currently #workingfromhome during COVID-19 is awesome, is your typical work environment in an office or away from your home? If your office is dog-friendly, even better! But if it's not, consider how many hours you are typically away from home in a day. Is this time away suitable for a dog? Do you have time that you can dedicate each day to providing playtime, walks and scheduled meals for your pup? Aside from your work life, consider your personal life and what your current lifestyle looks like. If you are active and like the outdoors, consider a dog that matches that lifestyle. Alternatively, if you are a homebody or live in a more city atmosphere, a smaller dog who prefers the indoors might be better suited for your current schedule and lifestyle.
*Adoption Tip: There are a ton of dogs and breeds out there! So even if you are away from home for long hours, that doesn't necessarily rule out owning a dog for you. It will, however, be a determining factor of the breed you decide to look out for.
3. Do You Have Breed Restrictions to Consider
If you're renting your home, chances are, there are restrictions on living with pets (whether or not your home/apartment is dog friendly, are there breed restrictions, etc.). Find our what restrictions are in place for where you are living and ensure that you are abiding by them in the type of dog that you are choosing to adopt. The worst case scenario is that you adopt a dog and where you are living does not allow for your dog or its breed to live there. This would cause you to have to re-home your dog which is added emotional stress for not only you but your pup.
Other breed restrictions to consider are whether a particular dog does well with other dogs or children (if you have either). Remember there are plenty of breeds out there and chances are, you will be able to find the the right one that fits your type of household.
*Adoption Tip: If you own your home or don't have breed restrictions where you are living and are open to the breed of your dog, consider adopting a breed that is typically restricted. Yes, pit bulls get a bad rap, but they need love too and a dog's temperament can always be trained and worked on! Huskys, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Saint Bernards are typically some of the restricted breeds for apartment or small space living. So if you have the room, these could be options to consider!
4. Do You Have an Age Preference
It's fair to say that when most families think of adopting, they want a puppy or a dog that's as young as possible (giving them the opportunity for more years with the dog and not to mention, they're stinkin' cute!). But there are a lot of benefits to adopting a young or adult dog. Typically adult dogs are potty trained and are past the stages of growing. This type of dog won't require as much hands on work in getting them acquainted with your lifestyle, whereas a puppy needs to be potty trained, will go through teething and just needs more dedication in learning the do's and don'ts of your home life.
*Adoption Tip: Say it with me now... "Seniors matter too!". Imagine being a senior dog and living out your last precious years at a rescue or crowded kennel. Not the most ideal situation to be in, huh?! While senior dogs are in their golden years, they're definitely overlooked for adoption. So if you're open to the age of your dog, consider adopting a senior dog and giving them the best home to live out the rest of their life in. While health could become an issue, if you're prepared to care for an older dog, you'd be giving them the sweetest end to their doggie years. Chances are they need minimal training and their adoption fees are typically low and sometimes no-cost.
5. What is Your 5-10 Year Plan
No, this isn't a scary first date question. Your 5-10 year plan is actually a very important factor to consider when adopting a dog. This is for a few reasons... First is timing. Now might not be the ideal time to adopt a dog. But while the current timing may not be right for whatever reason, that doesn't mean a dog isn't in your future. A dog may be better down the line when you are more established, your family grows or your lifestyle changes. Another reason for looking into your 5-10 year plan is finances. You may or may not be able to afford adopting a dog right now but you may see yourself in a better financial situation in the future to be able to afford all of the basics required to care for your pup (food, toys, proper shelter, vet expenses, training, etc.). Lastly, changes in your home life over the span of 5-10 years might effect if adopting now is the right time for you. As your family situation may change over the years, this can have a dramatic effect on the time and dedication you may have to care for a dog. So it's important to keep the future in mind to know when the time is right to adopt.
*Adoption Tip: If adopting a dog looks better for you later down the line, consider adding it to your 5-10 year plan. This way you have a future goal in mind of when you want to add a fur baby to the mix and will also deter you away from that spur of the moment feeling of wanting to adopt in the event you get puppy fever.
Keep In Mind
When taking into conside