There is a right and a wrong way to pick
a pooch. The process is a little like dating. The few
who find fulfillment in love are those who use their hearts
and their heads. There is a special kind of nirvana when
a person connects with their canine soul mate. They werent
fooling when they called dog mans best friend. But
such unions dont happen by mistake. A little careful
preparation will go a long way. And to simplify your search,
we have five suggestions. weve borrowed a little Hollywood
lingo to make the tips more memorable.
TAKE ONE! That is, take stock:
This is the time to look around you, before you even start
thinking of bringing home Buddy. Lets consider your life
from a dogs eye view. Who lives in your house? Are there
members of the household under twelve or over seventy?
What about other pets? Analyze the chemistry of your household
for a moment. What words describe your family? Are you
fast-paced and active, or low-key and friendly? In case
you didnt know, getting a dog is a little like adopting
a child. They have their own personalities. Think about
what personality would jibe best with your bunch.
Next evaluate your living space. Dog owners
exist as apartment dwellers or cattle ranchers. While
the size of your pad shouldnt ultimately determine whether
youre canine-compatible, it should at least be a consideration.
Take Phoebe for example, a spoiled golden retriever who
lives comfortably in a tiny Brooklyn brownstone. The arrangement
works because her owner is an active walker and doesnt
mind taking three or four spins around the dog park every
day. And dont think that just you have a huge backyard
means youre best fitted for a border collie. Even hyper-active
dogs will mope around waiting for someone to play with.
Whatever your accommodations, if you rent or belong to
an HOA, you may need to check the pet policy before entertaining
the notion of getting a dog. (Many renters allow dogs,
but limit size or breed.) While looking at your house,
consider your neighborhood. What is the noise level on
your street, and how close are your neighbors? Your dog
wont be living in a bubble. Social by nature, dogs react
to the environment all about them.
Now that youve inspected your digs, how
much time do you spend there? Is there someone home all
the time? In this day and age thats highly unlikely.
Look at work and school schedules, and dont forget holidays!
How often do you vacate the property? Do you plan on taking
the dog with you, or do you need to check out the local
Before you move on to take two, it would
be prudent to anticipate future lifestyle changes. How
likely are you to move? To get married? To break up? To
have children? Dogs dont disappear when your life takes
a turn. You dont want to end up leaving Poopsie at the
pound just because you didnt think that far in advance.
Dogs live ten to fifteen years or more. While its impossible
to know for sure, its wise to consider where you think
you might be.
TAKE TWO! Take advantage:
There has never been a better time to learn about dogs!
The world is at your fingertips. A thousand on-line quizzes
can quickly narrow the field and recommend breeds that
would fit your particular lifestyle and limitations. Your
search just got a thousand times easier. Jot down the
top ten, and do some research. First, look at pictures.
What do you think? Is that a face you can love? Physical
attraction, after all, does factor into finding a soul
mate. Read as much as you can about the breeds you feel
drawn to. Dont stop at the internet. The library and
the pet store have an endless variety of books, magazines,
and videos to assist you in your search. Even better,
talk to other dog owners. Ask them what they like (and
dont like) about their dogs. Go to a dog show, sit in
on an obedience class, or call a local breeder. Take advantage
of every resource you can to learn more about the breed.
TAKE THREE! Take interest:
Get involved in the dog community. Make it a family affair.
Volunteer at a local shelter. This gives the kids a chance
to experience the responsibility of a dog. You may even
consider fostering a dog looking for a home. Attend adoption
days; ask the neighbor if you can play Frisbee with her
whippet. All this interaction with dogs will allow you
to see quirks that may not have been so apparent in your
reading. Hidden expenses should also begin to be evident.
What kind of equipment is needed to keep this kind of
dog happy? Make sure to ask about health and grooming-related
costs. Different breeds have different needs.
TAKE FOUR! Take your time:
Now is not the time to rush into a relationship, but you
are getting closer to a commitment. Start putting out
feelers. If you plan to get a pup from a breeder, find
out when the next litter is due. If you have your heart
set on a particular breed, but want a mature dog, you
may want to look into breed rescue groups. They have some
great animals that already have some training, and are
a fraction of the price. And dont forget that sometimes
those mixed mutts lead the pack! Spend some quality time
in the kennels. Many shelters allow a few days or a week
adjustment period before tying the knot.
TAKE FIVE! Take cover:
You think youve found the one? Hurray! Just remember
that every relationship takes time and effort. Sign up
for obedience classes and arm yourself with a little more
patience than normal. Take it easy on yourself, knowing
that if youve taken our advice, youll be just fine!
About the Author
Emma Snow an animal lover works in marketing for Dog Pound
and Horse Stall http://www.horse-stall.net
leading portals for pet management.