Archive for November, 2012

6 things to consider BEFORE adopting a pet for the holidays

With the holidays approaching I felt this would be a timely post. The following is a list of things to consider before acquiring a dog for the holidays.

cute puppy!1) Consider your motivation: What is the main reason for acquiring a pet? Some people have recently lost a pet and are missing the place their pet held in their heart or in their family life. Are you trying to refill that empty space? This is an understandable motivation and on the surface it seems like a good idea. However I would strongly recommend that you give yourself adequate time to grieve your last pet before getting a new one. You risk comparing the two with the new one falling short. How can a brand new member of the family compete with your idealized notion of your newly deceased dogs? Dearly departed Lassie could wipe his own paws! The new one can’t even indicate that he needs to go outside. The old one laid around 10 hours a day and needed a 15 min walk twice a week. The new one is tearing around the living room for hours on end. Be very careful that you are ready for everything a new dog entails – training, exercise and expense.

Other people haven’t lost a pet, they just get an idea in their head that getting one is a good idea. Maybe a friend got a new dog and is encouraging them. Maybe they are lonely, or scared at home alone. Maybe they saw something on TV about how many dogs are euthanized each day and wanted to do something to help. Maybe they have always wanted a dog and, well “why not?!” None of these are necessarily “bad” reasons for getting a dog, just make sure that the thinking about it doesn’t stop there. Really try on the reality of dog ownership before impulsively going to an “adoption event” at your local pet super store. Impulse buys of dogs usually end in a dog getting returned.

black lab2) Consider your timing: Why do you want a pet now? Why now rather than after the holidays? Most people have this romantic notion of what a new baby dog or cat will be like, popping out of a gift box on Christmas morning. Oh how the kids will love it! Oh how the girlfriend will swoon!! And that is true, usually people ARE really excited by a new little ball of warm fur and sweet big eyes. But that excitement rapidly wanes, especially after the puppy or kitten pees on something (or someone), eats or tears up something else precious, or has to be let out in the frigid cold to potty. Really, do you really want the extra stress and effort of bringing a pet into your life at this busy time? Let yourself explore this as deeply as possible because I can tell you that getting a pet before the holidays SOUNDS like a good idea but rarely is.

3) Consider your schedule: Do you have time to spare for a new pet? Puppies especially require intensive work in their first year of life. I always tell people that if you put in the hard long hours of training on the front end, you’ll reap the benefits as they grow older. You should plan on spending a good hour on training each day, spaced throughout the day of course! Little minds have short attention spans. You should also plan on spending an additional three to five hours a day on playing and exercising the new pup. That is a minimum of four to six hours a day every day of the week in one on one time interacting with the pup. And puppies don’t sleep in on weekends. They will need potty breaks, some of the young ones in the middle of the night. And no puppy under a year should spend more than 4 hours in a crate during the day. Ever. This is just a reality of dog ownership – if you take on a baby dog, you need to be able to care for it well for that first year of life.

cute dog picture4) Consider the expense: Dogs cost money. The expense of dog food, basic care supplies, bedding and training can run you into the thousands of dollars. And routine vet care is expensive too. An annual wellness check can run anywhere from $20 to $60, and that is not including the cost of the vaccinations. Adding that expense usually brings the cost to over $200 a visit. Do yourself a favor and do your research. Find out what your local vets charge, how much training in your area costs and what sorts of supplies you’ll need. Many people highly under estimate the cost of owning a dog.

5) Consider the source: There are many places to acquire a dog – some reputable and many others not. Do not get a dog from Craig’s List. Do not get a dog from a puppy mill. Getting a dog from either of these sources will end badly for you. If you feel a need to “save” a dog from a situation such as this where there is obvious abuse going on, contact your local authorities ( the police) and let them know what you have seen and where the animal is located and let them do the saving. Many people choose a pet store to purchase their dogs. Please do your research well because many of these dogs and puppies are also sourced from puppy mills. Reputable rescue organizations are wonderful places to get a dog or puppy as their staff and volunteers are usually well trained and knowledgeable and the animals are well cared for. Additionally, you can acquire a dog at low cost. However, the background of the dogs is never fully known and there is no way to insure the dog’s temperament or even size as they develop. When you need or want to be as certain as possible about a dog’s heritage or temperament, buying from a reputable, long standing breeder is your best bet.

dog ready for adoption6) Consider the age of the dog: Sure puppies are cute but puppies are a LOT of work. They chew things, dig things, play bite children’s hands, have a lot of energy and need nearly constant supervision. They also will need to be house trained and will usually cry a lot at night for the first few nights. Mature dogs are more predictable, tend to need less training, are more used to living with a family. Senior dogs require less exercise (usually) and are usually the best trained of all the ages but they are, well, old and often set in their ways. Think about what age works best for your lifestyle and your family.

Checking in after a bit of a break

I have been out of the posting loop for a spell, given that my life has taken a few twists and turns. I’ll have a post coming shortly on things to consider before acquiring a dog from the holidays. But first a few updates…

Bella and Hermes, 2012

Bella and Hermes, 2012

Our foster, Buddy was renamed Pupidaly by our son. We had Pup for about 4 months before it became clear that he and Lollie were going to be vying for the number one (alpha) dog position. This created too much stress in the house so Kristin’s parents agreed to give Pupidaly a try. They are now all deeply in love and have been living together for a year! Yay for a happy ending.

Lollie is still with Kristin and she is still learning every day how to manage such a strong willed and slightly off kilter dog. So far no more stitches have been required to fix any scuffles and most nights there is peace among the three dogs, Hermes, Bella and Lollie.

Lollie, 2012

Lollie, 2012