Archive for the ‘dog adoption’ Category

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.

Our latest foster, 3-year old Buddy


Buddy is a 3 year old Shih TzuPoodle mix that’s been with us a week. He bears an uncanny resemblance to my childhood dog, Ginger. So much so that I have actually been contemplating keeping him. However, Lollie our pitbull mix doesn’t like strange dogs. So far she’s been easy to manage but the reality is that we have to keep them separate. And anyone who has two dogs in their home who don’t get along understands when I say that it is really stressful making sure everyone is safe. I don’t like it. Maybe with work it would work out, but at this point, I don’t think I’m up for that challenge.

BuddySo, for now, we consider Buddy a visitor. He was an owner surrender, directly to H.E.L.P, His previous owners said he was just too much to deal with, given that there were children in the home. You look at his little face and think, “how can that be?” but don’t let his fluffy good looks fool you – inside that cute suit is a type-A, big dog. Knowing what I know now, after just one week, I can see how someone who doesn’t really know dogs, who didn’t really want a big dog, and who didn’t have the time to work with him would find him a nightmare. He literally needs HOURS of exercise each day just to be calm. But today I think we over did it…as I let him out tonight he struggled coming up the stairs. I guess we have found his limit – a three mile walk and 3 hours of fetch is it. That’s good at least.

So, other than his ball obsessiveness and his need for large amounts of exercise for a small dog, he is great!!  Here is Buddy on –  where you can fill out an application to adopt him!

A few more pictures of Buddy: (more…)

Greta finds her forever home

Greta has found a forever home!! I don’t have many details but I do know that she has found a home where there are children to play with and people home a lot. She loves it and they love her. So, a happy ending for her. She deserves it!

Last weekend we had a mini reunion of Greta’s pups – 4 of the 5 were in attendance at the Petco puppy playtime I host. The interesting thing was, after the initial happy tail wagging greetings, the four of them fought like madmen!! We literally spent the entire hour pulling little bully puppies off of their sisters and brother. And it wasn’t like there was one who was trouble. It seemed like all of them have learned to “play” that way. I gave it some serious thought and came to the conclusion that their time in my puppy room confined their movements, and Greta’s young age caused her to react like a peer rather than a parent, so they had no choice and weren’t discouraged from acting out their urges to practice social dominance.

Puppies first day outsideMost of my litters have been in the summer where the group spends the majority of the time outside, in a big fenced space with trees and rocks to hide in. They can romp and run if they want, or wrestle, or just get away from the group. But stuck inside in one room, with a mama who not only allowed the fighting but participated in it created a little group of monsters!! The funny thing was, they reacted with submission to puppies not of their group. And one little dog helped the group realize there were other ways to play. She taught them that running and chasing was a game worth participating in. So it seems, Greta’s group has some learning to do – they need to learn other methods of interacting and playing that don’t involve fighting and wrestling.

Tips for taking home your new puppy

Remember these tips to make your transition go well:

* Limit the space in the house where the puppy gets to go. Expand it over the next few weeks.
* Walk the dog (not carry) to the door and show where they should potty.
* Potty the pup after every transition – after eating, drinking, playing, sleeping – potty them!
* Withhold food and water after 8 pm, do the final potty around 11pm, and wake yourself (and the puppy) up around 2am to potty again, and then again at 6am. That should do it! You will need to keep this up until the pup isn’t pottying at the 2am time.
* If there is a potty accident in the house DO NOT correct the puppy unless you see it happening! Pups only relate a consequence to the behavior that happened 3 seconds prior. So if you see a puddle, call the pup to you and scold it, you are in essence, scolding the puppy for coming to you.
* Remember this rule – any talking, comforting, and removing from the crate will reinforce the behavior that happened right before (usually crying, whining or scratching at the crate). If you don’t what those behaviors, don’t reinforce them!
* Keep the energy low for the first two weeks. It will feel like you are ignoring the puppy but it is the nicest thing you can do to give them the time they need to acclimate. If you have kids, limit the amount of time they get to interact with the pup.
* Keep the crate open and accessible during the periods of the day where the pup isn’t confined – that way when she/he needs comfort or respite, she/he can retreat there.
* Try to match the energy of the puppy – when they’re quiet do quiet activities (cuddling) and when they’re active do more active things (playing and not cuddling).
* Remember to give them access to food four times a day for the first two months home. Then move to three until 5 or 6 months old and then to twice a day. Feed amount suggested on bag.
* DO NOT keep a collar on a young pup who is confined to a crate – it is a strangulation hazard.
* DO teach leash manners, inside, after the first few days home – just let the leash drag for a day, then pick it up and encourage the pup to follow you, do not tug or reel them in.
* Do consider signing up for a puppy class anytime after the pup is 2 months old.

AND MOST importantly …

Good luck!! Trust your instincts and you’ll do fine.

Fare thee well, little family

So today Greta left for her next foster family. As sad as that may sound, all her pups were adopted and she was “left behind,” it is actually my preference. It gives her a chance to get accustomed to being just a dog, not a mama dog. And she gets to go through that transition with a wonderful volunteer, Ruth Ann, who loves all her fosters so much she lets them all pile up in bed with her! Greta will LOVE the attention and the cuddles. I expect her to make a smooth transition to simply being a young dog quite easily at Ruth Ann’s house. Then once that is accomplished, she will be much easier for her new forever family to deal with. So, many thanks to Ruth Ann for giving Greta the time she needs to settle in. I will miss her so much. I get really attached to all the mama dogs but she was especially sweet. She and I cuddled on the couch last night and I really felt sad that I had to say good bye to her. It is for the best. She will be a wonderful loving addition to her family. And I know they will love her just as much as I do.

Tomorrow, her puppies leave for their new homes. The end is near.

A busy day for the puppies

puppies sleeping in a pile

A long day

On Sunday we hosted 4 of the families who are thinking about taking the puppies. It was a L-O-N-G day. But worth it. Most were friends of mine so that was an added bonus – hanging out with puppies and friends is a good way to spend a rainy afternoon. But I am beat after all of it. For me, there is still a certain level of stress until all the puppies are accounted for. And even then I worry until Puppy Take Home Day. And even THEN I worry for the first 3 days, the first 3 weeks, the first 3 months. Once we hit that mark things are usually set. I don’t think I’ve ever had a puppy returned after 3 months. But then I always worry extra long about the mamas. I do so hope that Greta finds her forever home soon. She is such an amazing dog but so funny looking – she will take a special person but she will give that person SO much love and fun.