by David E. Neuwirth
I have been volunteering with several local dog rescue groups for years. It can be frustrating to see so many dogs that have been abandoned due to their owner’s ignorance. I understand that there are some unforeseen or uncontrollable situations that make it necessary for a dog to be re-homed, but in my experience, most cases of owner surrenders are due to human flaws.
Adding a dog to your family is a commitment to that dog for the life. Depending on the breed of dog, the average lifespan might range from 10 – 15 years. The first question you need to ask yourself is, are you prepared to be committed to your dog for a decade or more? I can’t tell you how many people have called a rescue to give up their dog because they just had a child, or got into or out of relationship. If having a child or change of relationship status is going to cause you to dump your dog at a shelter; don’t get a dog to begin with.
I would bet that anyone involved in rescue will tell you many stories of people who abandon their dog after a divorce and equally as many stories of dogs being abandoned after a baby is born. If you have a commitment to a dog and don’t think you can handle both a dog and a child than don’t get a dog if children are in your future. Dogs are not a temporary stand in for a child; only to be forgotten and dumped once a child is born.
Another reason that so many dogs of all breeds and mixed breeds end up in need of rescue is that people make an impulse decision without doing the research needed to find the best fit. Some breeds are very active and require daily exercise; other dogs are more of a couch potato. Some dogs are quite vocal; certain breeds need more mental stimulation; some breeds are more difficult to train. There are breeds of dogs that require more grooming than others. The bottom line is; find the dog that fits your personality, life style, level of experience in training and energy level. Spend time learning about what will be required to properly care for your dog (including time commitments for exercise, grooming, training, etc. as well as financial needs). For example, don’t get a Siberian Husky if you can’t deal with the shedding. They do shed and if you do your research in advance, you will learn that shaving them is not a viable option (they can actually suffer from heat stroke if you shave them and take away their natural insulation.)
I am an advocate of rescuing / adopting dogs. Please consider rescuing a dog before you buy a dog. There are rescue organizations for just about every breed of dog. There are also all breed / mixed breed rescues. No matter what type of dog you are looking for, there is a non-profit, rescue to help. If you decide to purchase a puppy, please do your research to find a reputable breeder. Do NOT buy from a pet store (you will be purchasing / supporting puppy mill dogs). Check references and do your research to find a respectable breeder.
If you are willing to take the time to find the right dog to fit your lifestyle and commit to that dog for his or her entire life, you will find that your life will be enhanced more than you could have ever imagined. Dogs do require your time and energy, but they give back so much more than we could ever give them.