A lot of people decide on a pet as a spur of the moment choice. They come upon an animal they think needs them or they think is cute and they decide to take it home. Maybe they see a particular breed on Instagram or out walking and they decide that’s the dog they want to own. Maybe a friend of the family has one and they think that family pet is just perfect. Fast forward a few months, a year and that animal may be harder to manage, or not quite living up to the expectation.
Here’s what I have come to notice with many aspects of life; people have a certain vision or expectation for their experiences. I think for most pet owners, the conversation is geared at wanting the pet to fit into the individual’s life or the family’s life but it focuses more on the expectation rather than the reality. I think the best approach is to sit and really look at your life. What kind of time commitment do you have for a pet? How much would you like to dedicate to a pet? What kind of relationship do you want with the pet? Do you want a buddy just to chill with at home with the occasional walks or do you want a companion for all aspects of your life, hikes, home, classes, competition, farm life etc.? What kind of grooming requirement do you want/can afford to keep up with? What kind of personality/temperament is most suitable for you? Are you a dog or cat person? How much of an attention seeker do you want to deal with? I think as real about what you really want and can handle is the best start for people. Realizing maybe you don’t want to deal with dog hair floating all over your furniture or maybe you can’t go for miles of running daily is important to do before making that commitment.
After taking a look at the reality and what they really want and need in a pet it’s time to take a look at what animal meets those requirements. There are some basic internet tests nowadays but you can also look at registries to go through breeds and basic characteristics. Find a way to talk to someone familiar with that animal. I think the next decision to make is to decide whether adoption through a rescue or a shelter or through a reputable breeder is most suitable for the circumstance.
There are many specific rescues that are size specific, breed specific or group specific. They are usually comprised of a connection of various volunteers who will house the animals in their homes; which allows you to get a good sense usually of the animals health and behavior in a house setting. Another perk is it is possible can search for a rescue that is specific to that breed or group and if one that fits is not located in that area maybe the network extends to other state or a list may be available for a future time. A person can also try to foster first to get an idea of if that dog/ cat will fit in their home.
A shelter is probably the most unpredictable scenario, however it can be so rewarding for people. If someone is very animal savvy and more diverse in what they can handle with a new companion then this can be ideal. There are shelters that are kill shelters so they have a high turn over because they don’t have the space or resources and the animals go in and out rather quickly one way or another. In this case a lot of the time you won’t really know much about you may be getting because even the employees and volunteers won’t know much and the animal is likely to just be stressed out. I think keeping that in mind is essential when going into the situation. I’m not saying all shelter animals are some kind of ticking bomb. Given love and structure and proper meals, some animals settle easily into a new home. Some have issues. Accepting that possibility and having that in mind is ideal because if something comes up, the family is already over a hurdle of being upset if things are not perfect. Bringing any animals will bring up challenges and just not having an expectation of things going perfectly and rolling with the punches can save everyone a lot of headache.
It is important to note that it is extremely important to find the difference between someone just breeding animals with no thought or care or purpose and someone who truly is passionate about what they’re doing and so put research, thought and purpose behind their hobby.
Even at shelters with rescues and mixes, discuss with the coordinator or behaviorist what it is you are looking for. If you are not sure about what they know, maybe get a second opinion. Sometimes in a shelter environment animals can behave one way and completely change when they settle in your home. With a breeder, the breeder should be knowledgeable about their breed and their dogs. I don’t just mean the dogs you see or that they currently own, but I mean their overall breed standard, their ‘lines’ meaning the lineage of their dogs, their genetic makeup, health and temperament disposition and she know of the current issues in their breed and in their dogs. Someone who is knowledgeable and keeps up to date with these things can help to guide you and shows care in what they’re doing.
Be aware that even if someone knows about these things there are still other aspects like the relationship you may want with the person, the contract and just know that some people can come off as knowledgeable and caring but still not work in your best interests. Do your research and talk to people to gauge whether this person is right for you and if that dog is right for you.
I could go on and on and I can write more in detailed about my experience with each of these but for right now my conclusion is that everyone should really consider what their reality is and what their options are and for the sake of themselves and the animals, should make choices that is best suited. Don’t be pushed by media, propaganda or plain bullied into making a choice that may not be right for you. Be honest with yourself and decide what you can handle and what you want and what fits into your life and what sacrifices you’re willing to make and choose accordingly.