Features April 2009 Issue

Selecting Your Next Dog or Puppy

Many people have a serious misconception about shelters, regarding them as containing only "reject" dogs. Of course, you can find dogs with health and/or behavior problems there. But shelters also contain many healthy, well-behaved, loving dogs - purebred and mixed - victims of difficult human circumstances.

Selecting Your Next Dog or Puppy

Where to look for, and how to select your next dog.

Thinking of getting a new dog? Chances are you're inundated with well-intentioned advice from every friend, family member, and canine professional you know about where to go and who to avoid in your quest to find your next canine pal. You may also feel the added burden of finding the right dog - one who will be as close to perfect as caninely possible. It's an awesome challenge. Many years ago, I was living on my own for the first time, and missed having a dog in my life. I went on a Collie search, and soon answered an ad in the paper for Marty's Pride, a tri-color Rough Collie whose owner had gone off to college. Marty was near canine-perfect: the first dog I showed in AKC obedience competition (he earned his Companion Dog title in three trials with scores of 194.5, 196, and 197), and the first dog I ever owned who died of old age. He was also the last dog I deliberately went looking to adopt. Since then my selections have been much more serendipitous. My husband and I tend to adopt the dogs who find us, or we trip over them at the shelter and bring them home. I realize that we're the exception, not the rule. Most people make more deliberate decisions than we do about the kind of dog they want, and where to find him - or her. Those decisions, although deliberate, are not always wise. I'm constantly amazed by the number of clients in my behavior consultation practice who thought they were making well-educated, well-researched decisions about the acquisition of their new four-legged family member, and ended up with something vastly different from what they expected. So how do you make an educated, responsible decision about selecting your next dog?

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