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Before You Get that Puppy...

We have been noticing a rather unpleasant phenomenon at the rescue kennel during the past weeks: many folks have been turning in their young, large-breed dogs to be put up for adoption.

The spoken answers range from life changes to relocation, but for many the unspoken reason is simply that Fido grew too large for them to handle. Needless to say, this isn't Fido's fault...but he's the one who will suffer the most because of it.

So, before you succumb to that cute bundle of fur, or any bundle of fur for that matter, take our 4-step program.

Found a puppy you like? Before you adopt or purchase it, learn all that you can about the breed. If the dog is a mixed breed, research the components of the mixture.

It might not seem possible now, but the cute little puppy you are about to buy can shortly turn into a large, messy animal who barks loudly, sheds, chews, digs, and slobbers all over the place. No matter what the breed, you must be prepared to take it to training classes. And if you can't stand a bit of dirt or dog hair, it's time to rethink your decision to purchase that puppy.

Good Ways to Research...
Finding information about dog breeds is not difficult. You can research by computer, books, or by talking to dog owners/breeders.

...By Computer
If you have a computer with Internet access, the web is a great place to start. We have pulled together a list of web sites at the end of this article and on our resources page.

...Read a Book
Don't own/like computers? Take a trip to your local library or bookstore. Here is a list of books...

...Attend a Dog Show and/or Talk to Dog Owners
You should SERIOUSLY consider attending a dog show where not only can you potentially contact breeders, but you can see ADULT specimens of the breed you are considering. It's very important to remember that cute little puppies remain cute little puppies only for a matter of weeks. There is a long period of ungainly and rebellious adolescence finally followed by mellow adulthood.

While you're there, talk to some of the owners or handlers. Ask about the special characteristics of the breed...and inquire about any special care requirements.

Step 2: Be Realistic About Yourself
If you don't like brushing or if having dog hair on your carpet/furniture/bed is annoying, then a large hairy dog is not for you. Be realistic about your personal energy and dedication to daily exercise. If you don't care to walk every day, an energetic breed is not a good a choice.

Step 3: Be Honest About Your Current Situation
If you live in a small house with a typical small yard, a large dog will be a challenge to care for. If you are not prepared to pick up dog waste daily or every other day, your yard could quickly turn into doggy septic tank.

Make sure that your spouse or partner is as excited about adopting a pet as you are. Raising and caring for a pet is a significant, long-term (10-20 year) obligation and not one to be taken lightly.

It is rarely a good idea to give a pet as a gift, especially a "surprise." Instead, give a coupon "good" for a pet, or plan a trip to a breeder. Then, have your gift recipient start Step 1 of this 4-step program.

Step 4: Evaluate
After doing your research, thinking about the type of commitment you are prepared to make, and taking a realistic look at your current situation you should have the right criteria for selecting a dog...or realizing that your situation is not one that would be good for any type of pet.

Dogs Don't Mix With Your Situation?
Don't despair!

If you enjoy being around dogs but can't fit them into your home, it doesn't mean that they can't become a part of your life. There are many animal shelters and organizations who would appreciate the gift of your time.

...and that doesn't mean cleaning kennels.
Many of these organizations are forced to spend their resources on cleaning and feeding. There is little time for playing, walking, and socializing with the animals in their care. That's where you come in. Dogs who receive attention are much more likely to be adopted than those who do not. Vounteering is a great way to have fun, and make a big difference in life of a dog.

So, sit back, take some time...and do a bit of serious thinking before you melt before those big puppy eyes.

Good Web Sites for Prospective Dog Owners...

  • The American Kennel Club
    This site has excellent information about dog breeds, care, and training.

  • Specific Breeds
    This dog site is full of information about dogs and puppies.

  • Orange Empire Dog Club
    This site lists reputable breeders and breed rescue groups in the Inland area of Southern California.

  • Google's Choosing a Dog Directory
    This page lists many excellent sites that provide information for those choosing a dog. Many resources on this site come from and/or are listed on this directory.

Good Books
Here is a list of books...

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