January 20, 2016: Adopting a new Canine Family Member

~by Susi Pittman

It is estimated that there are over 70 to 80 million dogs in American households. This number certainly states America’s love for their canine companions, but the dark side to that number is that over 1.2 million healthy and treatable pups that are euthanized in shelters due to lack of adoption.

These numbers should be astonishing, as healthy pure-breds are now being added to the list of abandoned dogs Many pure breeds are becoming shelter pets as home foreclosures push families into new lifestyles that either place them in a “no pet” living environment, or they can no longer afford their pets, or they are just abandoned period.

If you are considering adding a dog to your family circle, there are some tips that you should consider that will help you make the perfect dog selection, insuring that you and the new canine family member will enjoy a life-time together.

  • Research the various dog breeds you are interested in. Know that you may or may not find a pure-breed at the shelter, but you may find a beautiful mixed breed with just the right qualities.
  • Make a list of the breeds you will and will not consider.
  • When viewing the shelter dogs, be aware that they are under stress. They are aware of their environment and in many cases, they have just been dropped off or abandoned and aren’t sure what is happening.
  • The shelter technician is there to help you as you view he dogs. It is their duty to insure that you receive the background on the dog and that you are able to view and/or interact safely with the dog.
  • If you consider adopting a puppy, it is important to note that puppies can be more expensive to begin with, as their immune systems are more susceptible to communicable diseases. Their temperament is somewhat harder to discern at such a young age. Adult dogs on the other hand are what they are. You will know in a more distinct way what you are getting in temperament.
  • If you have children at home, you will need to make the decision whether or not to include them in the selection process. Some dogs will enjoy children, while others will not. If the child/children do go with you to the shelter, make sure your child understands that getting the right dog may not happen that day and could require another trip.
  • Evaluation of the time that will be needed to care for the dog is very important. To adopt a dog and leave it crated inside an apartment or home for twelve hours a day does not make you a good candidate for dog adoption. There are other pets that require less attention and would be a much better match for you.
  • Evaluation of the living space you have for a dog is also important. You would not want to adopt a large dog, offering it a small apartment, unless you are committed to dog walks and doggie exercise at a dog park or large field for your new companion.
  • Consider your commitment to be one for the life of your dog. It will include food, regular veterinary visits, medications to prevent heart worms and fleas and perhaps arthritis, and maybe obedience training.
  • Understand that dogs become very attached to their “people” and will look to you for not only their day-to-day needs, but also their end-of-life needs. You most likely will out live your doggie best friend….so it is important to address the psychological necessity of being a “friend” to the end.

Going to the animal shelter to pick out your dog is an emotional experience. Do your homework, talk to shelter professionals and know what you and your family really want, thus insuring the adoption of your dog will offer the dog, you and each family member a life of joy and love!


Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.



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