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Casper Critters

Finding the Right Dog for Your Family

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10/01/2011 - By Gayle M. Irwin

Potential dog owners have many options when it comes to acquiring a dog for their household. Our local Humane Society and City Animal Shelter take in countless dogs each year. Breeders also provide opportunities for people to find a particular variety of dog. However, they are not the only place to find purebred dogs. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 25% of dogs in animal shelters across the country are purebred animals. Rescue organizations also offer opportunities to find great dogs, and many rescue groups are breed specific.

October is National Adopt-A-Dog Month. If you are looking for a specific breed of dog, consider inquiring not only with our local animal shelters, but also with the many breed rescues found in Wyoming and surrounding states. For example, if you're a basset hound fan, the Wyoming Basset Hound Rescue just may have the dog for you. Prefer Border Collies? Then, contact Wyoming Border Collie Rescue. In our region, you'll find Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Springer Spaniel Rescue, and Big Dogs, Huge Paws, an organization that rescues the larger breeds, such as mastiffs and great danes. You can find these and many other groups listed at www.petfinder.com.

My two dogs, Cody and Sage, each came through an animal shelter. Both are purebred spaniels. Sage, our Springer, was adopted from an animal shelter in Montana, and Cody, our Cocker, came through the Casper Humane Society. Not all dogs that enter shelters have behavior problems. In fact, the number one reason a pet is left at a shelter is because the family moves and doesn't/can't take the pet along. Most times a companion animal ends up in rescue or in a shelter through no fault of its own.

Please consider providing a dog a home this month, designated as National Adopt a Dog Month. But, don't adopt on a whim. Make sure you and your family are ready for the responsibility of taking care of a dog. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Do research. Different breeds have different personalities and needs; discover which breed best fits your family and lifestyle.

2. Consider your finances. Pets, like people, require food, toys, and medical care.

3. Think about the future. Are you planning to have a baby in the next few years? Do you think you might be moving soon? Will you be able to handle unexpected medical expenses due to genetics, accidents, or older age?

4. Introduce your new pet to other pets you have prior to adoption. Most organizations have an outdoor area or a special room in which you can introduce your established pet with your potential new friend. And, when you bring your new pet home, remember to introduce it slowly to others already in the home.

5. Train your pet. Puppies often need to be housebroken, and all dogs should know the basic commands of no, sit, stay, and come. Our children need guidance and correction and so do our pets. Obedience training opportunities are found locally at PetCo, Casper College, and various other organizations and businesses in the community.

Dogs are loyal and loving, providing a special companionship for life's journey. And dogs provide great health benefits to people, including reducing stress and blood pressure and lifting our moods.

Whether you are single, married, have children, or are retired, there's a dog to fit every lifestyle. Of course, you need to find the RIGHT dog, and after you've done your research, talk with the staff and volunteers of whatever organization you select to help you find the right furry friend for you. These people spend time with the animals and know their personalities and backgrounds, therefore, they offer a tremendous service to people planning to add a dog to their household. Go to www.petfinder.com and find your special companion today!


Gayle M. Irwin is the author of Sage's Big Adventure and Sage Learns to Share, stories about her blind Springer Spaniel, and a contributing author to two editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She is also a former humane educator. Her new book, Learning to See: Life Lessons Learned from My Blind Dog, is scheduled for publication in Fall 2012. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.

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