Monday, October 6, 2008

October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month

This month is national adopt-a-shelter-dog month and this year it just so happens to coincide with the release of Disney's "Beverly Hills Chihuahua". If you know of someone or are yourself considering adopting a chihuahua, or any dog for that matter, please keep a few things in mind.

First, of course, always make a shelter dog your first consideration. In any given area there are literally hundreds of dogs available for adoption at shelters or in foster homes that may otherwise face euthanizing. Most organizations will make sure the dog has been spayed or neutered and in relatively good health before taking it home. Most local SPCAs and Humane Societies that offer dog training courses will give a discount for a shelter dog.

Second, do your homework before you adopt. Read, read, read about what keeping a dog involves. Contact local veterinarians and find one you like. Find out if they take insurance. Pet insurance is available! Compare insurers, their different plans, and their costs and deductibles. You will, no doubt, want to let your dog off leash once in a while. Find out where to dog parks are in your area. They're great places to network with other dog owners.

Third, figure out how a new dog would fit into your life. Can you afford the food, supplies, medicines, and veterinary costs? Would your neighbors complain? Who looks after the dog while you're at work? Who looks after the dog while you're on vacation? Are you able to put in the time to walk and spend time with the dog? These are all things to consider.

Finally, research the breed you want to adopt. Understand that while all dogs are dogs every breed has characteristics that cannot be ignored. Chihuahuas in particular tend to be high strung and tend to attach themselves to one person and will aggressively defend that person. Chihuahuas can be biters and are usually not a good choice for households with small children. Another dog that should be heavily researched and carefully considered are Jack Russell terriers. Jacks are very intelligent and thrive in an environment where they receive lots of mental stimulation. Conversely, they can be easily bored and become destructive when mental stimulation is lacking. Those are just two examples.

Above all, remember that good dog owners are responsible owners. Adopting a puppy means a 13 to 15 year commitment. This is not a decision that should never be taken lightly.

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