Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Adopting from a shelter, Part II: My plan

Now, I will begin this with a bit of a caveat:  In the end, I did not get my dog directly from a shelter.  I had a list of shelters in hand, ready to head to as soon as I was ready to adopt a dog.  I had been looking at dogs on for ages.  And then I went on a transport and met a dog who was traveling from a shelter to a rescue and realized I had found the right dog.

So with that in mind, here was the list I had come up with prior to finding Dahlia:

Things I must have in a dog
  1. Size: Medium (30-60 pounds)
  2. Coat: Long hair
  3. Behavior: People friendly
  4. Behavior: Active enough to go on long hikes
  5. Behavior: Rides well in the car as we like to drive to plenty of places to go hiking
  6. Behavior: Affectionate

Things I can deal with/bend on/work on
  1. Breeds: Prefer Herding dogs or Retrievers or mixes of those breeds, but willing to step outside that idea (especially to dogs like Poodles or Huskies)
  2. Color: Would prefer a black dog as they have the hardest time getting out of shelters, but willing to adopt a dog of any color
  3. Age: Prefer 1-3 years old, but could get a somewhat older dog
  4. Gender: Prefer female dogs, but would be willing to get a male dog
  5. Behavior: House training issues
  6. Behavior: Jumping/mouthing/chewing/general "unruly" behavior
  7. Behavior: Dog aggression (I would prefer a dog friendly dog, but could work with a dog on this)
  8. Behavior: Afraid of children (We have none and will not have any, so this is not a huge deal, would work on it nonetheless)
  9. Behavior: Poor leash manners
  10. Behavior: Bolting out the door
  11. Behavior: Mild fears and sound sensitivity issues
  12. Behavior: Digging
  13. Behavior: High prey drive
  14. Medical issues: Diabetes (my partner is diabetic; we're used to diabetes in our household)
  15. Medical issues: Deaf (we would be comfortable adopting a deaf dog)
  16. Medical issues: Epilepsy
  17. Medical issues: Skin issues/allergies
  18. Medical issues: Mange (we have no other pets so there would be no need to quarantine; we would be happy to help a dog heal from this)
  19. Medical issues: Three legs

Things I cannot deal with in a dog

  1. Size: Giant dogs (no dogs larger than approximately 80 pounds)
  2. Size: Small  dogs (no dogs smaller than approximately 25 pounds)
  3. Breeds: No terrier/terrier mixes as they don't gel with my life; no short-faced dogs
  4. Age: No puppies!
  5. Age: No seniors...I'm well aware they need homes too but this is my first dog and I'm not ready for heartbreak so early on in getting him/her
  6. Behavior: Separation anxiety (I live in an apartment, this would be bad)
  7. Behavior: Fear aggression (my partner used to be afraid of dogs so this would be a bad mix)
  8. Behavior: Afraid of men (this dog is going to a home with a couple and again, with my partner being afraid of dogs I didn't want him to not bond with the dog right away)
  9. Behavior: Excessive barking (our landlord specified this one – if the dog is barking too much and neighbors complain we cannot keep the dog or have to move, so we need one who is not overly barky)
  10. Medical issues: Blind (my partner and I are too scattered with our musical instruments and books/papers from grading and class planning; it would be a poor home for a blind dog who needs things to stay where they are)
  11. Medical issues: Hip dysplasia (at a young age; obviously hip problems can happen when a dog is older, but would prefer to not adopt a dog who already has it)
  12. Medical issues: Heartworm (this can just be too heartbreaking to deal with; I couldn't deal with losing the dog so soon after getting it as the treatment can be rough)

A couple things to note: (1) This list is clearly not comprehensive.  There are many other behavior and medical issues one might come across with dogs in a shelter or rescue.  But these are either common issues or ones I took into consideration as I was making the list.  (2) My list of what I "must have" is fairly small.  My list of things I can bend on is the largest and my list of things I can't deal with is fairly large, but not as big as the middle list.

All of this was carefully considered before I even met Dahlia.

Coming up in the next post: How well does Dahlia fit with my original list?

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