Finding a new best friend

February 23rd, 2007 by Kathy Hawkins

When you think about bringing home a new dog, you’re probably envisioning a puppy—a tiny, squinting, squirming ball of fluff to curl up in your arms. Everyone knows that puppies are adorable—but when you consider the realities of hundreds of “accidents” all over your carpets, countless hours of behavioral training, and waking to a yipping alarm clock every day at 4 AM, the cute factor starts to wear away pretty quickly.

There are some great reasons to buy a puppy from a breeder—you have access to information about the dog’s health and pedigree, and the puppy is young enough to instantly bond with you. If you’ve got your heart set on a rare breed, a breeder may be your only option. My husband and I bought our Shih Tzu, Gatsby, from a breeder because I was concerned about allergies. I have reactions to certain dogs, and knew that Shih Tzus weren’t a problem. I haven’t regretted the decision to bring Gatsby home for a moment.

Gatsby

Gatsby’s first bath in the kitchen sink.

If you know that your life won’t be complete without a purebred puppy, check out www.breeders.net to find a purebred dog breeder near you, and go over their checklist to make sure that the breeder’s policies are ethical and humane. Purebred dogs can easily cost upwards of $500, but it’s a small investment to make for the rewards you’ll gain.

When you look beyond the breeders, though, there are many other ways to find the perfect dog for your family.

In animal shelters throughout the United States, millions of dogs are waiting for homes. Though some may have behavioral problems, many of these dogs are incredibly loving and well behaved. Take a look at Petfinder.com, where you can search all the available shelter dogs by location, breed, size, and age. This site also lists many dogs from breed rescue groups—so if you’re looking for a Golden Retriever, a Lhasa Apso, or any number of other breeds, you may be able to find the right dog with a few clicks of your mouse.

We found our second dog, Coco, by scouring the web. We saw a post on our local Craigslist community bulletin board about a dog available free to a good home, drove out to meet her, and took her home with us that day. Our three year old Shih Tzu is a bit scruffy and has a tendency towards snoring, but we adore her, and she adores us. When I first met her, she clamored into my arms for a hug, just like a child. We can’t imagine life without either of our dogs.

Gatsby and Coco

Gatsby and Coco

Breeders, shelters, community bulletin boards—there are any number of ways to find the right dog for you. It doesn’t matter whether you adopt a purebred puppy or a five year old mutt—either way, you’ll be coming home with a new best friend.





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