Commitment is an act, not a word.
Sometimes I am asked to help a client with dog selection. I want the dog to be for life. And life can sometimes get rough.
In these circumstances, I feel my first duty is to the potential dog. Do I think it can be happy in this home? Is it a good fit? The second duty is to the family. Maybe the family is willing to put in whatever effort it takes to make this dog work, but with careful selection, and matching personalities to dogs, it won’t feel like work. In other words, I need to make sure the dog doesn’t turn into a chore, to become eventually resented.
I do believe in rescuing dogs, but can understand why some people choose breeders. Regardless of where you get the dog, shelters would be obsolete if people would just be more realistic about the dog they were getting, and most importantly, be honest with themselves. Instead of just going to the shelter or a breeder and adopting the cutest dog there, do your research! You don’t buy a house until you do research! Don’t meet with any dogs until you have your checklist.
I usually have my clients compile a list of Needs and Wants, prior to meeting them at a local shelter. The more detailed you get, the more you are able to narrow it down to the “perfect” dog. The chances of that dog being returned to the shelter start to dwindle down to nothing, because you’ve taken the time to make sure this dog fits with your lifestyle.
I recently decided to get another dog, who would not only be a companion dog, but a dog who would be used in my training business as well. My new dog would help me work with other dogs who are dog-reactive, so the owners can learn how to stop and correct that behavior from their dog. Here was the list I came up with when searching for this dog:
NEEDS – No negotiation room on these
- No slobber. I can’t handle drool (eliminate most Mastiffs, Boxers, etc.)
- No dog reactivity. The dog I needed couldn’t have a reactive nature himself.
- Non-threatening looking dog. My dog couldn’t scare my clients by his looks. I don’t want my clients clutching their pearls when they see some big beast of a dog coming to work with their reactive dog. (Eliminate Shepherds, Rotties, all large dogs)
- Good with children.
- Good with other pets.
- Very intelligent.
WANTS – Not a make or break issues, but would be nice to have
- Black or white.
- Water dog
- Moderate to high activity level.
Now I had a much more concise idea of what I was looking for. Obviously that eliminated quite a few dogs, but again, this was going to be a relationship that lasts for my dog’s entire life. I was willing to take my time finding that dog. I fell in love with a lot of dogs during my search for the one that would become mine, but I held staunchly to the restrictions I had thought out so thoroughly.
This is who I finally found.
Not bad if I do say so myself. Welcome home, Voltron, no….uh. What about Kiji? No, not that, um, Riki-tiki-tavi….good grief, that’s abusive!
Welcome home Orion.