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Which Puppy Passes the Test? >
Making the Commitment
The Humane Society of the United States lists several questions you
should ask yourself before making the commitment to a pet. They submit
that the answers should be yes to all of the following questions:
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- Are you allowed to have a dog where you live?
- Can you afford a dog at this time?
- Have you considered the neighbors?
- Present and future: Are you prepared to have a dog?
- Do you know how to care for a dog?
- Do all of your family members agree about getting a dog?
- Is your family situation stable?
- Will this dog be the only pet in the house?
- Will it get along with other pets?
- Can your schedule accommodate a dog?
- Does your lifestyle accommodate a dog?
- Are you free from physical restriction limiting your ability
to care for a dog?
Finding a Match
Before you select a specific dog, there are several
things to consider. This is especially hard to think about when you
are looking into the sweet eyes of a puppy. However, considering that
you will probably have that dog from 10-15 years and puppyhood lasts
only months, it is important to do your homework before you
get the dog.
after a rough day
You must consider the following issues:
Size. Do you live in a small space or a large space for this
dog? Do you want a dog that you can carry and cuddle, or a big strapping
dog that you can lie on? Does this dog fit in your car? In a plane
carrier bag? Also the amount of food the dog eats varies in proportion
to the size of the dog, as does the amount of fecal matter it produces.
Activity level. This means the amount of
exercise the dog needs. Some breeds of dogs need to "get out there
and run". Other dogs, even some large breeds, need very little exercise.
Match a dog's needs to your lifestyle. If you jog daily and plan to
take the dog, a higher energy level dog is for you (you wouldn't enjoy
dragging your dog with you). Conversely, if you are not very physically
active, a high energy dog wouldn't fit into your lifestyle. From my
experience, I have noted that a high energy dog, without the physical
release it needs, can find other outlets for its energy release, like
your attractive rug or leather couch.
in Martha's Vineyard
Hair and fur. Does anyone in your family have allergies to
dog fur? (There are alternatives). Is anyone going to be running for
the vacuum cleaner at the sight of a dog hair on the floor? Does the
dog's coat match the environment in which you live and the place where
you intend to keep your dog? A short haired dog needs protection outside
in severe climates, but a double coated dog sheds a great deal and
is uncomfortable in your environment. Do you mind high maintenance
grooming for your dog, or is just a "bath and brush--ready to go"
what you have in mind?
Personality with children. Some dogs are more physically and
emotionally sensitive than others. Some children are, too. If you
have children, think of their ages and personalities. Do they want
to roughhouse with their dog, or dress it up? A shy sensitive dog
in a loud active house might be overwhelmed and become fearful. However,
an insensitive dog in a quiet house might appear to be "a bull in
a china shop."
Age. Puppyhood can be trying and yet wonderful. Everyone loves
to hold the new puppy gently sleeping in your arms. But the reality
of housebreaking scheduling, chewing and other behaviors of puppyhood
are more than some people wish to go through. If you are one of those
people, an older dog may be the solution. A possible disadvantage
is that with older dogs, you often do not know what they have been
through in the past, and this may present problems. A benefit is that
you usually have the dog's mental maturity working with you.
Pure breed or mutt. Some people want the characteristics bred
into certain breeds, like asthetics, speed, personality or working
ability. These people usually opt for specific breeds. They are fairly
assured of the look, temperament and size of the dog they choose.
Others are interested in a specific dog. They may or may not know
the parent dogs or the variety of breeds in their mixed breed dog,
and it doesn't matter. That dog will become a member of their family
regardless. There has been a lot written about which type of dog is
smarter, healthier and more of a companion. I think it depends on
the individual dog. Lassie is a pure bred but Benji is a mixed breed
taken from a shelter. Both are excellent.
Price. Pure bred dogs are usually somewhat expensive depending
on the breed and the breeder. They can run from $300 to $2,000. Older
pure bred dogs can be obtained for free from rescue groups. Mixed
breed dogs are nearly free from shelters. They usually have been spayed
or neutered for free through the shelter and have had their shots.
This cuts down on the initial cost of the dog a great deal.
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Where Do I Get a Dog?
Where can you find the one dog for you? It's nice if a lovely stray
follows you home and sits obediently at your feet, but that doesn't
happen very often. A responsible pet owner should decide what he wants
in a dog and then decide where to get it.
Here are some ways to find your "four legged significant other:"
Shelters. There are about 50 million dogs out there already
alive. Many already live in shelter and are homeless. If you are not
interested in a pure breed, adopting a dog from a shelter is a humane
and reasonable choice. These dogs need homes and you can locate
a dog of any age at a shelter. The price is right and more importantly,
you save a life.
Specific breed rescue. Rescue groups are made up of people
who care for homeless dogs usually of a specific breed. Some dogs can't
be kept by their owners for various reasons, often beyond their control.
Greyhounds, for example, may be raced for several years as young
adults and after that period their money making ability is cut down
and the dogs are abandoned. This does not necessarily mean that there
is anything wrong with the dog. Most of them make fine pets. Adult
dogs may be easier to care for as they know "basic living skills."
If you are interested in acquiring a dog in this way, contact the club
associated with the specific breed to find an appropriate rescue group.
Breeder. If you have chosen a specific breed of dog, I suggest
that you find a good breeder. A breeder is a person who mates dogs
of the same breed to produce puppies. A good breeder mates two dogs
that have positive characteristics with regard to the dog's health,
intelligence, personality and physical beauty. Less reputable breeders
just mate two dogs regardless of their mental or physical health,
so you have to interview the breeder and look at other dogs that they
have bred. A good breeder will interview you to see if you and the
puppy are a good match, and you will provide a good home. DogWorld
Magazine has an article in which the author surveys questions
good breeders might ask in order to place their dogs properly. Breeders
may be located through the American
Newspaper advertisements. Be careful. People placing ads can
be very responsible and caring, but sometimes they are not. Do a little
homework and investigate. A new puppy is always cute and will sell
itself, but you may have this pet for 10-15 years so choose carefully.
Pet Shops. As a rule I do not recommend buying a puppy from
a pet shop. Dogs are often acquired from puppy mills (mass production
under deplorable conditions) and not bred for quality. I know of one
pet shop in Manhattan that seems to offer dogs of decent quality,
but considering the number of pet shops that exist, you are taking
a big chance.
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Which Puppy Passes the Test?
Please note these tips before picking a puppy.
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- For most people, look for middle of the road. Do not choose
the most bold or the most shy in the littler or facility.
- Cradle the puppy in your arms, tummy up, like a baby. Does the
puppy fight that position or relax in it? I'd take the puppy who
allows me to do so, for I feel it demonstrates that dog's willingness
to trust, submit and cooperate.
- Make a loud and unusual sound and observe the puppy's reactions.
Does the puppy run and hide or attack? I am for an interested
but not agressive puppy.
- If you squat down and say "here puppy" in a pleasant voice,
which puppy comes and which cowers away? This test gives you an
idea of which dogs are people oriented and which are not. This
may or may not change in a dog's lifetime.
- Don't take a puppy before the 7th or 8th week of age. They learn
a great deal from their littermates and mother about caring, sharing
and getting along with other dogs (things we can't teach them).
- Choosing a puppy is great fun, but do it with some thought to
the future and make a commitment to the puppy you choose.
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