My daughter has been bugging us to get a dog for a few years now. We held off because she is actually a bit dog shy. Luckily, her tutor has a dog so it was a great way to desensitize her. My husband and I grew up with rescue dogs so this was our goal this time.
We are really lucky to have one of the best shelters in the state right in our town. We are also lucky that many shelters her in Massachusetts are no-kill. So many dogs come up from the south where they have an overpopulation problem. Initially, I thought a slightly older dog would be good for our family. They are usually crate trained, housebroken, etc. I kept an eye out through PetFinder.com, which is a great way to find pets in your area. Here is our puppy’s listing on the shelter website:
Many shelters require pre-approval of your family, home, etc. so we went through that process. Our local shelter had 2 older dogs and 7 new pups that were of interest to us. I took my kids to the puppy “meet and greet” and met one of the older dogs too. I really fell in love with Shep, who is about 1-2 years old. He was a sweet boy and really good with the kids. But, of course the kids fell in love with the puppies. There were 7 pups that you would never believe came from the same litter. They were all colors, long hair, short hair, etc. We fell in love with a little black and white fluff ball named Panda. She cuddled in my lap while most of the other pups were wild and active. That’s the kind of dog I like.
Since I was just with the kids, my husband needed to come meet the dogs too. We visited the next day while the kids were at school. On this visit, I was still considering Shep, the older dog. The shelter informed us that a larger male dog would not likely be a good fit for us. It seemed that I would have been out voted 3-1 in favor of the Panda anyway, so this helped solidify my decision as well.
To be 100% sure that the kids were a good fit for Panda, we went back one more time so we could hang out in the “meet and greet” room with Panda and no other pups. I highly recommend spending as much time as possible with your prospective rescue pet so you feel confident about your final decision.
Another good idea is to set the kids up for disappointment. Puppies in particular can have a lot of families competing for the adoptions. I really thought we would lose out on Panda. We got lucky though since we were the first family to put her as first on our list. The shelter asked each family to give them their first, second and third choices. When the manager told us we could put a deposit to adopt Panda, we were thrilled.
Things to keep in mind when adopting a rescue dog:
– Be Patient: You may not find the perfect match the first or second time you visit a shelter. Making a good choice can help you and your pet have a lifelong, rewarding relationship.
– Adopting a dog is not free. It can cost from $75-400+ depending on the shelter.
– In addition to the adoption fee, there will be items that are necessary to care for your dog. These include:
- Puppy Food
Be careful they are NOT from China as some of these foods have been known to actually kill dogs.
- Crate for training and for creating boundaries in your home
- Barrier gates to restrict the dog’s movement until you are comfortable allowing him unsupervised access
- Collar, harness and leash – a harness is better for a puppy because their throat is still very delicate. Getting them used to a collar is still a good idea as this will be the place for their identification tags.
- A chew toy or bone – also, select nothing Made in China
- Doggie Treats – providing the dog with small treats to reward for good behavior like going potty outside and crate training.
– Be sure to dog-proof your home by tucking away electrical cords and putting away small children’s toys that they can swallow.
– Line up a veterinarian to bring your new family for a wellness exam. The shelter will often have some health records to help you schedule your vet visits. If the health records are unknown, make a vet appointment as soon as possible.
– Be sure to talk to the shelter about their “return” policy. If an adopter can no longer care for a pet due to financial reasons, allergies, etc., the shelter should welcome the dog back to find a better match. If this is not the case, find another shelter. I highly recommend no-kill shelters so their is no risk of the dog being euthanized if they are not adopted.
So, there is my 2 cents. It’s only been a few days, but so far we are loving the new addition to our family. I’m sure I will have more great stories to share in the months to come.
Have you adopted a rescue dog? Share your story in a comment.