Are you sure?

Over the years I have met so many different types of people, dog people and non dog people that I sometimes sit back and think about it all.  I have helped many people choose a breed; find a breeder, choose a shelter or rescue dog or figure out if they really should have a dog at all. Lots of people think that they want a dog; some really want a dog even after weighing all the cons but some people figure out that they really don't want a dog. During a "get a dog" consultation I ask a lot of questions and I am very frank about my feedback for each individual.

Many prospective canine guardians feel sheepish about answering questions like "do you care about hair all over the house" or "do you want to spend alot of time training a dog?" These question may seem trivial and shallow to some but there is absolutely no point in getting a dog like a Golden Retriever or Labrador if you cannot tolerate a lot of hair. The same goes for activity and training compatibility. Are you a couch potato? Then you are not going to understand or want the type of drive that a Border Collie or or Cattledog are going to have.

It is most importance to know yourself and know what you cannot tolerate, can tolerate, learn to tolerate, absolutely love or look for in a canine companion. I remember walking through a shelter once when a volunteer asked me what I was looking for. I told her I was just looking to see if there was a certain breed in the shelter.   I was actually looking for a client and for a local rescue that I regularly scoured the shelters for. With my response the woman's kind face turned into a scowl as she blurted out that if I wanted a certain breed I didn't deserve to have a dog. I could have got into it with her right there but instead I decided not to lower myself to her level, smiled and moved away quickly.

Yes it would be nice if no one had any objections to living with any type of dog but the fact is that everyone is different. And a large part of the problem with dogs being dumped is that people do not "think" before acting.  I put the largest blame on pet stores (you know there will be more on pet stores later) as they rely on the impulse buyer which is the complete opposite of what should be done before adding a dog to your family. It is a huge responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly.

A dog deserves a family that has committed to raising and living with them for their entire life. They are not an item that should be returned like a garment of clothes you changed your mind about. So if people take the time to figure out what they really want in a dog "before" they get the dog and not after they get the dog there would be much fewer second hand dogs.

So when I ask the questions "do you like drool," "is your family active?" "do you want a pocket pooch?" and the answer is no, I say Good! These people are doing their research first, the way it should be done.  If after all the "do you" questions you come up with the answer no, then don't.  Having a dog is not a something that everyone should or wants to do.  I find it hard to get; for me life is dogs.  But there are people who love extreme sports like jumping out of a plane and they probably wouldn't get why I would never do that.  

I wrote this article years ago;   No Hasty Decisions; points to ponder

No one has the right to judge another on what type of dog that they choose to live with or where the dog comes from.  As long as the dog you choose is loved and a member of the family then you are doing it right. 

1 comment:

  1. The people and dogs who attend Camp Dogwood in Ingleside, IL, are a real mix. Lots of us love and have a specific breed, for whatever reason(s), but all of us just love dogs. It's why so many of us are repeat campers. The outdoors, hiking trails, open fields, lake, events like agility, flyball, and lure coursing, sessions with Dr. Jane and Dr. Lisa about our pets' care and feeding and with Pam the dog massage specialist, being AWAY from the daily drill, are all important, but it's the people and dogs that keep us coming back. We've made so many friends, human and canine, over the years. In other circumstances, we might never get to know the people, or appreciate the wonderful dogs that are such an important part of their lives.

    Thanks for being so frank with potential dog owners. No one breed (or mix of breeds) is appropriate for everyone. It's heartbreaking to see so many dogs in dire circumstances (on death row) but it's important to know what you can live with and what will drive you crazy. Thanks for helping people not to make mistakes that will send a very confused pet off into those circumstances.


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