October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month. If you are looking for a new companion, don’t forget that shelters and rescues are filled with amazing dogs waiting for their forever home. Dogs of all ages, sizes, breeds, and personality types are available. You can even begin your search from home! Sites such as www.PBRC.net and www.Petfinder.com offer a free listing service for rescues to showcase available dogs. Many shelters and rescues also list adoptable pets on their own websites.
Before you add a dog to your family, there are a few questions to consider:
- Is now the right time to add a pet? Pets are a lifelong commitment. Adding a new dog to the home during a busy time—such as a new baby, a move, or a change in career—can make things challenging. If it is not the right time for your family to adopt a dog, you can help in other ways: Sponsoring a dog's adoption, volunteering at a rescue, or even just getting word out about the amazing dogs looking for homes are just a few examples.
- Am I financially ready for a new dog? The cost of a dog is not just the adoption fee! Although reputable rescues provide a great start by vaccinating and spaying or neutering before the dog goes home, vet care is ongoing. Always factor in the cost of food, training, toys, and other items to determine if now is a good time to adopt.
- Does my housing situation allow dogs? If you are a renter or live in a planned community, check your rental agreement/contracts to make sure you are allowed to have a dog and if there are any restrictions. Also check the local laws to ensure there are no breed restrictions to make note of.
- What kind of dog am I looking for? Although you may be drawn to a particular dog because of its coat color, size, or particular look, consider that particular dog’s traits with your lifestyle. If you are a couch potato, an active dog may not be the right match. If you love to exercise, a low-energy dog may not be able to keep up with you! Seek further information regarding the dog's medical status and behavioral/temperament evaluation. Are there training obstacles that may seem too challenging for you? Are there any underlying health issues that you will need to address?
- Will a new dog fit in with the pets I already have? If you have other pets, you will need to determine how will you acclimate or manage the pets to prevent unneeded stress. Taking things slowly is very important for both the new arrival and the current resident.
Once you feel that you are ready, take your time looking for the perfect companion. Be sure to research the type of dog you are looking for. The rescue or shelter can help you find the perfect match for your family. Many dogs in rescue already have a training background, are house trained, and are just waiting to be a part of a family. Rescuing is a rewarding experience that offers innumerable benefits!