Choosing the Most Appropriate Pet (May 2019)

Submitted by Sara Grattan

Dear future puppy adopter,

Almost every day I see a new Facebook post from a rescue advertising a young beautiful pure-bred dog.  The ad goes something like this: “beautiful, energetic, young German Shepherd looking for his forever home…”  What happened to the family that purchased the cute little puppy?  Most likely they did not plan on how much time, knowledge and money it would take to care for a young puppy.  As my mother would say, God made puppies cute for a reason because they take so much work.

I know that cute Lab or German Shepherd puppy is just so cute and small. Your children are desperate for a cute puppy just as you were as a child. Your dog was part of your family for as long as you can remember.  Before you succumb to your wish for a puppy, I want you to go on PetFinder and look at all the precious young dogs that are available.  There are reasons these dogs are available.

  • The family did not plan on the dog getting big and still acting like a puppy.
  • They did not realize how anxious a young dog will get if they are left alone for hours at a time. 
  • They don’t have the time to take the dog for a walk multiple times a day.
  • They don’t have a fenced in yard to let the dog run to expend their energy.
  • They don’t have the knowledge to train a big dog.

Puppies take a huge investment of time and money.  I am not trying to discourage you from getting a dog; I am trying to get you to evaluate what type of dog is suitable for your situation.

Recently, I had a family with 5 kids ask me to find them a dog.  I suggested they look for a Lab, Beagle or Hound.  I should have added over the age of 3.  Immediately they found a precious Lab who was described as young and energetic.  Knowing that this family did not have the time to work with a young and energetic Lab, I reached out to friends at the Goochland Animal Shelter to ask if they had an older dog that would be suitable for a large family.  Immediately they sent a picture of an older Hound who has the sweetest eyes.  Yoda is now happy in his new home with his 2-year-old sister and her siblings.  He sleeps a lot and gets lots of love from the children as they come and go to their activities.   Yoda has adapted well to his family because he doesn’t require a lot of them. 

Having a family dog is a wonderful learning experience for children; however, in order for it to be successful you need to evaluate your time, experience, and financial resources.  Adopt a dog to fit your lifestyle. Don’t let the cuteness factor control your selection. Select a dog that is right for your situation from the beginning and allow the dog to be part of your family forever.