Our entire family has strong feelings about animals, their well-being and the importance of having pets. I’ve shared about how Scott and I used to help with animal rescue in the years before the kids were born. We’ve told you all about how our daughter asked for donations instead of presents. We even offered a DIY Animal-Shaped Valentine Box tutorial. Our hearts yearn for another dog in the family, but with schedules consistently busy and a lot of travel on the agenda, we need to wait until we can give a dog the attention it deserves.
Ever since losing our last dog, we’ve wanted to adopt another but we have known the timing just wasn’t right. Having pets is a commitment. They aren’t a toy you can play with then ignore. They require food and walking and a lot of attention. In return, they offer unconditional love, companionship and protection. Whether we’re talking about pets, school or cell phones, it’s important to have discussions and create a parent child agreement and be on the same page about what is okay and what isn’t. Right now, adopting a dog wouldn’t be right.
Unfortunately, too many people fail to do their research before adopting a dog and the result is that the pet isn’t compatible with the family and they end up at a shelter. It’s sad to see these loving creatures stuck in a perpetual state of solitude, living without the love of a family. Living without a home. There are a number of reasons this can happen but it boils down to pet personalities/temperaments, family schedules and/or financial commitment. By doing some research ahead of time about different kinds of dogs and what it takes to be a dog owner, you can learn what to expect before you adopt.
In honor of National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, I thought I would share some tips on how to navigate the pet adoption process, what to expect and how to prepare. Since many people fall in love with dogs that they meet in person, plan to use your phone with reliable cellular service to search for as many details as possible before signing the adoption papers.
- Locate adoptable dogs: use apps such as AllPaws and LikeThat Pets to find adoptable dogs in your area. You’ll be able to filter by breed, size or gender as well as view pet profiles. Local humane societies often have dogs listed on their websites, but also have great resources that can be reached via a smartphone like the iPhone 6s or Samsung Galaxy.
- Learn personality traits: Animal shelter staffers ask prior owners for reasons why the dog was dropped off, details about temperament as well as the dog’s breed. Those traits are available, usually on signage identifying the dog. Comments such as “not good with kids” or “high energy” are good clues as to whether that pet will fit into your family.
- Research breeds: Use your phone to read about the breed of the dog(s) you’re interested in adopting. Have allergies in your family? A dog that sheds a lot might not be a good fit. Live in an apartment? A dog that needs a lot of room to run probably isn’t a good choice.
- Plan for training: Shelters can often point you to where you can get training, but stores such as PetSmart and PetCo are great resources as well. Many offer training in their stores. There are apps such as P5 Dog Training from Purina that allow owners to watch videos and track their dog’s activity and progress. If you’ll be away from your dog, consider an app such as Whistle that pairs with a special collar to remotely track and monitor what your dog is up to. All from your mobile device!
- Food: There’s no way around it, your dog needs to eat. Buying cheap food caused our dog to have issues with his stool. When we started buying quality products, we saw immense improvements. Stores like PetSmart offer rewards programs (such as PetPerks) that provide coupons, discounts and other perks. Use an app like KeyRing to ensure you always have your card on you.
- Socialization: Even if you have a yard for your dog to run in, it’s important to take them to a dog park to help socialize them. It gives them the opportunity to interact with other dogs as well as other humans! Use apps such as Dog Park Finder Plus or Dog Parks to locate parks in your area.
- Health care: Dogs get sick. Dogs get hurt. Dogs need doctors, too. For basic at-home treatment, use the American Red Cross for Pets or Pet MD app.
The biggest thing to remember is that this is new to everyone in the family, pet included. Make time to learn about each other and bond! And if you have a question about something, just use your phone and look it up.
When was the last time you visited a shelter to adopt, donate or volunteer?