Eager to be a dog’s best friend? What you should really consider when pursuing the perfect pooch

Consider participating in Adopt a Shelter Dog Month during October, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —While October moves closer to its end, it’s still not too late to participate in Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. But before you take the plunge and adopt a dog, it’s important to consider what type of pooch is most ideal for you.

In this August 2021 file photo, Cathy Powell trains Maggie Rose at Loving Angel Service Dogs, St. George, Utah | Photo by Adele Park, St. George News

According to a press release issued by Best Friends Animal Society, the need for pet adoption remains high.

Even with the pandemic pooch craze, 32% of the 347,000 shelter pets (dogs and cats) killed last year were dogs, according to Best Friends 2020 data of shelters in the United States. Over the summer, shelter intakes were on the rise, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dogs in need of new homes across the country.

Adopting a dog comes with a host of benefits, Erin Katribe, veterinarian and medical director at Best Friends, said in the news release.

“Studies have shown that having pets reduces stress and lowers anxiety. This is especially helpful during challenging times like we’ve experienced over the last year and a half,” Katribe said. “Dogs are also great walking or hiking buddies. It’s like having a personal trainer with four legs.” 

Another benefit of adoption is how cost-effective it can be, the news release states. 

“Most shelter dogs are fixed, vaccinated, micro-chipped and ready to go home for one low fee,” Katribe said. 

Since most dogs in shelters have already been in homes, many of them are housetrained already.

“For adult dogs, it usually just takes a quick refresher course to become housebroken in a new environment,” Katribe said. 

Of course, saving the life of a dog in need is also hugely rewarding.

“These dogs are so eager to be someone’s best friend again,” Katribe said. “They’ll pay you back for your kindness with a lifetime of unconditional love and companionship.”

French bulldog puppy, Russia, April 30, 2019 | Photo by Maria Tsveshko via Wikimedia, St. George News

To help with your search, Best Friends offers the following tips: 

Lifestyle is huge. 

Do you enjoy binge-watching TV and prefer quiet nights at home on the couch? A senior dog or one who prefers being an only pet could be your ideal match. 

More athletic types should consider a high-energy dog who can keep up on any adventure. High energy doesn’t always mean young, either. Many older dogs are still bursting with energy.

Even if you don’t have a big home, dogs of all sizes can thrive in an apartment or condo (as long as they get the necessary amount of exercise). Large breed dogs are most at risk in shelters, so keep your eyes open for a big boy or girl who may otherwise be overlooked.

Ask the shelter team to play matchmaker. 

Tell the staff and volunteers at the shelter all about who you live or share space with, including any and all pets (rodents and reptiles count). You’ll also want to note any pets you run into on a regular basis (like the small dogs at your apartment complex or a friend’s dog who likes to visit). 

How much affection do you need?  

Some people love getting doggy kisses, others not so much. Same with sleeping – do you want to snuggle in bed with your dog or prefer them to have their own bed elsewhere? How much (or how little) affection you want from your pet is an important factor in deciding which one to adopt.

Bonnie Pendleton and Steve Flannery with rescue dog, Sunny, St. George, Utah, May 2021 | Photo by Adele Park, St. George News

Involve the kids.  

It’s important to take your kids with you to meet all prospective pets so you can observe how they interact. Ask the shelter staff if any of the dogs in their care have lived with children previously.

Keep an open mind.  

Rather than fixating on looks, size or breed, focus on characteristics such as who will fit best into your lifestyle and who you find a connection with. 

Know your limits. 

If you’re not willing to potty train a puppy or can’t handle a strong, young dog, don’t feel guilty. Knowing what you can and cannot take on as a dog owner is important. 

Ask about medical history.

Some dogs, especially seniors, can have current or ongoing health conditions that require medications or increased veterinary care. As such, it can cost more money and involve more time to care for the dog. It’s important to factor this into your decision-making process. 

Foster first.

Most shelters allow potential adopters to take a dog home for several weeks or longer. This is the best way to really get to know the dog and can give you the confidence to decide on whether you should make the situation permanent.

For more information or to find a shelter or rescue near you, visit www.bestfriends.org.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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