Posted by: Tara Aarness | September 18, 2010

LOST: Looking for Fury Best Friend (Reward Offered)

Picking out you or your family’s new best friend can be daunting. It’s not as easy as picking out your next favorite pair of shoes that’ll carry you wherever the summer may take you. Just like choosing your new favorite Jimmy Choo’s, there are many factors into which needs to be taken into account and here are some helpful tips to help make your choice become an instant classic that’ll last not just the season, but a lifetime.

Research, Research, Research

Mother may have been right when she told us to ask lots of questions. However, the first questions to ask may be the toughest.

v  Why do you want to own a dog?

v  Are you truly willing to commit yourself to the life of this dog?

v  Do you have adequate space for a dog?

v  If you rent, will your landlord accept a dog? If so, which breeds?

v  What breeds are tolerated in your city? Does your city have an ordinance?

v  What sort of time are you willing to devote to this dog?

v  If you own other pets, why are you hoping to obtain another?

These questions can be tedious to answer and many haven’t bothered to take an honest look at their lives and lifestyle. The heartache they experienced has been felt by many and our animal shelters are filled with homeless dogs and cats that have done nothing wrong, other than being the breed they are. In order to avoid overcrowding our already brimming shelters, it is necessary to do extensive research beforehand.

Having fully examined your reasons, the key to your success lies in greeting others with similar interests and talking to a wide variety of people. Introduce yourself to breeders, peruse pet stores, and haunt your local shelter for possible loves. And while you’re sniffing out all the possibilities, be sure to ask yourself why you are drawn to these certain breeds of dogs and if they truly are right for your lifestyle. Trainers, breeders, and Animal Control Officers will offer you a greater insight as to which breed will work best for you, making your life, as well as your newfound friend’s, much easier.

And They Call It Puppy Love

After accosting every person you’ve run across who displays any sort of dog love, you are ready to find your Fury Best Friend (FBF). You’re as excited as any four legged, fur hound who hears the words, ‘walkies,’ ‘car ride,’ and especially, ‘ball’ or ‘cookie,’ and you just know that he or she is waiting for you. Whoa there, Buddy, let’s put that leash back on and heel our jets for a bit.

First, are you going to adopt a dog or puppy from your local animal shelter? Or purchase one from a breeder? Or visit your local pet store to see what they offer? Again, research will become your best friend. Prior to visiting a breeder, conduct a thorough background check on their breeding procedures, how they keep their animals, and what prior customers have to say about the breeder and their dogs.

Pet stores often purchase their dogs from ‘backyard breeders’ whose dogs aren’t as ‘purebred’ as you may like. Ask the manager who supplies their animals and if you may have their contact information so you may research what their facilities are like. If the manager declines your request for information, move on.

Your local animal shelter often has a wide variety of dogs available for adoption that have been thoroughly assessed for behavioral issues. Additionally, they are continuously screened for any health issues that may arise, whereas pet stores are unable to offer same quality of care.

All too often, people are just as excited to bring home their FBF as Fido is upon seeing a new squeaky toy. Each puppy eyed look you see will tug your heart strings and you’ll be certain that that adorable, furry little face staring back at you is The One. Ok, slow down, deep breaths, and have a cookie.

Your local animal shelter is staffed with knowledgeable officers whose primary concern is finding homes for the animals they care for. Ideally, their goal is to work themselves out of a job. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll just adopt an animal out to whomever, regardless of the right match or not.  By not thoroughly conducting your research and taking an honest look at your lifestyle, too many dogs, whether purchased from a pet store or breeder, or even adopted from the shelter, are ‘owner surrendered.’ Officers spend extensive time evaluating each dog that is brought in, creating pages of notes in hopes of finding the right home for both the dog and new owner.

A seasoned Animal Control Officer, Steve Fucsher, of King County Animal Care and Control in Washington State, has been helping place discarded animals for twenty eight years. “We walk a fine line between doing what’s right for the dogs and helping our community make the right choice not just for the animal, but for their family,” Officer Fucsher said. “Often we are criticized for denying an adoption of a certain dog to a family, but what they fail to realize is that we’re not denying the family the ability to adopt from us, but the adoption of a dog that will ultimately end up back in our care because it’s the wrong breed for that family.”

Finding the right breed is only half the battle. “These dogs think and believe they are people; they’re two year old children who never grow up. “ Animal Control Officer, Erik Aarness, of King County Animal Care and Control, explained. “And like people, each dog has his or her own personality. Regardless of the dog’s age, some dog’s love children while others won’t tolerate them. They have feelings just like we do, they feel emotional pain, as well as physical, and will respond to your actions just as a child would. People need to remember that when owning a pet.”

William Makepeace Thackeray once said, “Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children,” and it is just as true for our FBF’s. We are their mother’s and father’s, their hero’s, their masters, but most of all, we are their soul mates. Once they have found us, our level of joy is determined by how much we put into this relationship, just as it is in our relationships with our family, friends, and significant others; and with the pet industry projected to surpass $43 billion by 2011, that’s a lot of joy.

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