Do you think you have what it takes to be a true dog lover? If there was one thing that you can do in this world that would greatly contribute to the canine family, would you be willing to sacrifice a little extra time and patience?
What I am talking about is adopting a dog or puppy from your local animal shelter. There is no better service you or I could make in terms of raising a dog than by providing a positive, loving home to a perfectly good shelter animal.
For some of you, the idea of adopting a shelter dog will instantly cause you to become negative or feel defensive toward these animals. You have too many preconceived notions and assumptions that could be stopping you from saving a dog's life, one that would make a great house pet if you just had the open mind and a little bit of extra time to train it.
Have I Talked You Into Adoption Yet?
I'm sure it may take a bit more persuasion for some of you to open up your hearts and minds to adopting a shelter dog, but for the rest of you who have decided that you want to visit your local animal shelters to find a dog or puppy who needs a good home, make sure that you approach the staff with a few questions before making your decision.
Ask about what kind of medical treatment the dogs receive. Most organized animal shelters will at least provide the minimum care necessary needed for a dog to go home with you, however, there are some places that unfortunately neglect important medical guidelines.
What To Look For
Any organization that handles animals should have a licensed veterinarian on staff at all times. This veterinarian will provide vaccinations in order to prevent hepatitis, distemper, and other health issues. Ask the staff, or talk with the veterinarian if possible, if these dogs have had their blood checked for heartworms. And is the skin clean of fleas and other parasites?
These are just the basic medical requirements that every person should look for when adopting a dog from an animal shelter. Other needs may be a bit more complex.
For example, do you have your sights set on a dog that has been injured in the past, or is currently healing from an injury? What type of injury is it? What type of medication and treatment has the dog received? Ask about the cost of future treatment and medical needs that will arise.
And Don't Forget...
Another important set of questions and research that you should talk with your local animal shelter about is whether or not they have a professional who evaluates each dogs' temperament. Most shelters have this information posted on the front of each cage that is designated to the specific dog, or other animal.
It is important that you take this information and assess whether or not it is detailed enough so that the dog can be trusted with your family set up. The staff should also know how the animal reacts with children and around outside stimulants such as moving cars, other people, etc.
This information is valuable in determining whether or not the shelter dog you are considering will be a good match for your home situation. In addition, ask the staff specific questions regarding a dog's attitude towards being submissive or dominant. Are they overprotective of territory? How often does aggressive behavior occur and for what reasons? The more questions you ask, the better you will feel when you take your adopted shelter dog home.