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Puppy breath, you love it or you hate it. What else do you know about your likes and dislikes in dogs? A new puppy can be a wonderful addition to a household, bringing joy and companionship for many years or it can be a nightmare. Most of that has to do with what you do before bringing home that new life.
If you think a puppy is right for you and your lifestyle, take a little time and check out the possibilities. A dog, and that is what that cute puppy will grow into, is a huge responsibility. It is a life, one you are responsible for, not a disposable toy. Just a few questions to ponder and do be very honest with yourself.
• Why do you want or need a dog?
• Is it for companionship, protection, something to nurture, a toy for the children, a competitive issue with a friend or neighbor?
• Do you have the time to train, socialize and exercise a dog?
• Do you have the patience to deal with the inevitable issues that puppies come with?
• Are you in a good place financially to properly care for a dog?
• Do you have a lifestyle for the next 10-15 years that is compatible with keeping and caring for a dog?
Let’s say you have given this much thought and you are getting a dog for all the right reasons. Now what? How do you make the best choice: there is so much to consider, what breed, or would a mix breed dog be better? How old: puppy, adolescent, adult, geriatric? What gender: male or female, neutered or not?
When investigating what dog is right, if you have decided on a purebred, start with a veterinarian, they handle and deal with many different breeds. At Four Loving Paws, we offer a “Think before you Buy” Consultation with a veterinarian at no charge for people contemplating a dog to help them acquire the best pet for their lifestyle. In addition, to a one on one discussion with a veterinarian, visit the website www.fourlovingpaws.com, where there is a link to an interactive questionnaire “Pet Selector” to help narrow down which breed would be best suited for your family and lifestyle There are also many good books published that list the different breeds and general qualities. Ask your veterinarian, get in touch with breeders who are involved with the general welfare for their breed. Be aware, some people produce puppies in a given breed but are not true breeders.
A true breeder puts the welfare of the breed above personal interest or monies earned. A conscientious breeder will tell the negative aspects of his/her breed as well as the positive. Ask for references of people who have acquired pups from their kennel. Then follow up on these by contacting the owners. Ask as many questions as possible of as many owners of your chosen breed.
Remember traits are generalized within a breed, there can be exceptions and extremes. On the other hand, if you have determined that a mixed breed pup would be right for your family, consider the Humane Society. They generally have plenty to select from. Do be aware that the dogs are in a stressful environment and it may be hard to evaluate their true temperaments. Sometimes the quiet, shy on in the corner evolves into the “wild Thing” when in a home situation.
Remember, breeds develop for specific work demonstrate specific traits, such as retrievers like to carry things and swim in every puddle, herding breeds round up livestock or children, terriers are vocal and spitfires. When adopting a mixed-bred pup the traits that are innate in him depend on what work his ancestors were developed to perform. Predicting size, coat quality, temperament in a small puppy of mixed heritage can be difficult. Even the “best guess” can miss the mark.
There are definite pros and cons to these questions. Only you and your family know which way to go. There are plenty of books available to offer advice of the above concerns. The intent of this column is to make you aware that these issues are important and need careful thought BEFORE you bring home your new Furkid.
A dog is a big commitment, one that if done well can bring joy to a family but if not planned well can bring hardship and heartbreak.
This column has addressed what puppy and where to find her. We will address the other questions to ponder in a subsequent column.
If you have a question or pet-related topic for Dr. Schenck to discuss in an upcoming article, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.