Informal dog adoption advice?

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Topic: Informal dog adoption advice?

General Discussion May 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Informal dog adoption advice?

So since POPville loves dogs, I thought I’d ask for advice.  We’ve thought long and hard about it (for years!), looked at our schedules and finances, and have finally decided that we’re ready to adopt a dog! 
I grew up with dogs and have adopted several cats from the shelter, but I’m honestly pretty nervous about the process of adopting a dog. In particular, our first cat seemed like a super laid lounger at the shelter, then did an energy 180 once we got him home and out of a stressful situation that had turned him a totally different animal. He turned out to be amazing, but there was definitely an uptick in craziness around our house.
Outside of all the standard stuff in adoption materials (consider your life style, plan introductions with existing animals, get prepared, etc.), what did you consider – or what do you wish you knew to think about – as you looked at available dogs? How do you get a good sense of a dog’s energy level, knowing that they’re probably operating in stressed out mode under extenuating circumstances? If a dog hasn’t been cat tested, how do you gauge the likelihood that they’ll enjoy sharing space with other animals?
Basically, what sort of reality check can you do to avoid falling in love with an animal that won’t be a good fit for you? 

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Our recently adopted dog did a complete personality switch after she got comfortable with us too. We thought she was going to be a couch potato but in reality she needs to be run every week or she gets batty and bratty. Soooo, have you thought about fostering? That will allow you to help a needy dog, and test out one that you might be interested in adopting all at the same time. WHS’ foster orientation is super easy, and they def need fosters. Good luck!

My suggestion is the same as Epric002–a foster to adopt arrangement.  Or, work with an organization that has fosters for its dogs (e.g., City Dogs Rescue, Lucky Dog, Lost Dog, Washington Humane Society, etc.) because they can tell you a lot about a dog in a home setting vs. a shelter. 
You can also express interest in a dog who has been living with and is good with cats, although that’s no guarantee your cat will like being around a dog.  
Good luck!  Hope to see your adopted dog on a future Animal Fix.

I got my dog through the Washington Humane Society. The volunteers there asked me a lot about what I was looking for and my life.  They steered me away from a couple dogs.  I actually got my current dog because the family that wanted him before me had a cat and they had already determined that he wasn’t good with cats.  My impression of WHS was that they were good about temperment testing the dogs and testing them with cats and kids.  This was 10 years ago, so things may have changed, but I had a good experience with them.

The private adoption groups, Lucky Dog, City Dogs etc.  probably offer the best chance to know what you’re getting.  They go to areas outside DC, particularly the south where dogs are harder to place and select the “cream of the crop” from shelters.  They foster the dog in volunteer homes while posting on, so you get a pretty good sense of the dog. 

As a volunter for CDR, I feel like I should clarify that CDR doesn’t cherry pick its dogs.  They help dogs most in need, often those that are hours away from being euthanized.  They frequently rescue senior dogs, dogs with heartworm, and one of their recent dogs had a benign tumor that CDR supporters paid to have removed.  I’ve met a lot of their dogs, fostered one of them, and they’re absolutely wonderful animals, but wouldn’t want any adopter to have unrealistic expectations.

I would say that you should take a really good hard look at your life before adopting a dog. Are you a couch potato? And you want to stay that way? Are you active? How much time are you willing to put in to excercising and training the dog? We adopted a puppy a few months back, I grew up with dogs so I knew what to expect. Our dog is a very High energy Redbone Coonhound, she goes to the dog park 2X a day for an hour each, goes for 3-4 hour hikes every weekend, and goes for jogs a couple times a month. If we skip her excercise she becomes destructive. I know most dogs at shelters are mixed, but if you can get any sort of an idea of what the dog is and look at those breed profiles about energy needs and temperment it would be a good help to you. Best advice is to know what you want out of the dog and try to get the dog with a compatible energy level. Good Luck!

I am lauding, not critisizing rescue groups for “cherry picking” dogs from distant places to transport to DC area for adoption.   It is silly to think that they don’t, and sillier to think they shouldn’t!  Best stats available are that 75-80% of all dogs in shelters are euthanized.  The more success stories – from good adoptions (of the sweetest, cutest, friendliest dogs) – the better the chance that more people will eventually think about adopting. 

I stand by my comments above; they’re true to my experience.
Ultimately, I think we all agree that it helps to know what kind of dog will fit into your lifestyle, spend some time with a dog you’re interested, ask the rescue organization and its fosters questons, maybe foster a dog yourself, and be patient with whatever dog you decide to adopt.  They are worth it!  And they may even reduce the risk of heart disease, so says the American Heart Association!  🙂 
I hope the information here is helpful, Caitb.  Good luck!

Belated thanks for all the advice, all!
Foster applications are submitted, so we’re hoping to learn some more about possible dogs in need of homes in the near future.  Can’t wait!

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