1) Take advantage of experienced, expert dog advice from people who will go out of their way to make sure you are matched to the most suitable dog for your lifestyle.
2) Know your dog’s background. Contrary to the widespread myth that dogs in shelters are largely unknown quantities, the opposite may very well be more accurate. For those dogs who are in shelter for a period of time, the shelter staff themselves will be able to give you a great insight into the dog’s character, likes and dislikes. And even for those dogs who have recently arrived, it is not always the case that they come with no history. Often their owners are rehoming the dog due to a change of circumstance and will go out of their way to provide the shelter with bundles of historical information about the dog. The image of the dog tied up to the railings outside of the shelter with no background is certainly not the most common case of dogs in rescue.
3) Take your time getting to know ‘your’ dog before you even adopt. Ask to spend time walking the dog, playing with him or her and generally get a great feel for the dog you are going to spend the rest of your days with. This is a luxury that really only a rescue shelter can allow for and it is highly useful in enabling new dog owners to make the right choice, for life!
4) Prepare to be guided without being restricted on choice. With more than 100,000 dogs in shelter at any one time, it stands to reason that YOUR perfect dog is in a kennel somewhere just waiting to meet you. So, do your research, get a reasonably good idea of the type of dog you’re looking for and then be prepared to make a short list of dogs to go and visit. Via the comfort of your home, you can do this on www.dogsblog.com
5) Don’t believe the hype about puppies. Having a puppy is a good deal of fun. However, it really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in terms of needing to get a dog from a puppy in order to have a solid, long lasting bond. Many owners are surprised (and shocked) to find out just how easily their dog will bond with no people if left in their care for a period of time. Puppies come with their own set of unique challenges and getting one is a decision not to be made lightly. Whatever you do though, please don’t assume that it is not possible to establish an equally strong bond and friendship for life with a dog of 6-months, 6-years or 16-years.
6) Get the ‘finished article’. Where else but in rescue could you find a housetrained, child friendly, basic trained, well socialised, animal tolerant, travel happy dog ready to take home for the cost of a small donation to a very worthy cause (subject to home check, of course)?
7) Don’t want a cross breed? No problem! For some, the image of rescue is that of kennels full of cross breeds of unknown parentage. Simply not true. If you want a pedigree breed, even some of the so-called ‘rarer’ breeds, they exist in rescue. Don’t believe it? Look here.
8) An unrivalled support network. Most rescue centres are so keen to ensure you and your dog lead a happy, problem-free life together, they are usually on hand to offer advice and support for as long as you may need it.
9) Don’t miss out on character building. Sure, it’s not the main reason to get a dog from a shelter but there’s no getting away from the fact, every time you look at your dog you will feel a sense of great pride and satisfaction that the happy, fulfilled life they lead with you is because you took the option to go visit the shelter. Watch your dog blossom before your very eyes and feel an extra sense of pride about the decision you made.
10) Don’t leave your choice of dog to the lottery of nature when you don’t have to! Getting a dog from a shelter enables you to do so, so, so much more in terms of assessing their suitability for you, your family, your home, your budget, your lifestyle. You’re not restricted by choice or by access to ‘problem’ dogs only. Dogs in rescue are not broke, they don’t need fixing. They just need a home.