With so much political correctness surrounding the decision about your new pet, I thought I’d talk very openly about the decision. It’s not whether you should adopt or buy a dog, but some other things that surround your decision.
To begin with, before you ever decide to get a pet you should ask yourself if you are ready for a long term commitment, one that can last over 10 years. No matter where you get your pet from, you must understand that it is your responsibility to keep this animals for it’s entire life. If you’re making your decision on a whim, it’s the wrong decision. Ask yourself what you will do with the pet if you lose your job, if you have to move, if it gets sick… then ask yourself where you see yourself in 10 years. Once you’ve answered these questions in a manner consistent with keeping a pet for its entire life, you may be at the right place to consider getting a new best friend.
Now, ask yourself if you will dedicate the time to train, care for and bond with the pet. Dogs are a bit more work as they need exercise, training and bonding time with their humans. If you work 10-12 hours a day and think it’s a good idea to have a dog at home waiting for you when you get there, you might consider a big screen TV instead. A dog needs more attention, and it’s better that you don’t get a dog in the first place than to get one that you won’t care for eventually. It’s a commitment that you should think about.
When you’ve talked to some friends, trainers and family about your decision, which you should do – you can take the next step. People who just run out and get a dog are like people who meet someone at a bar and get married the next day. Believe me it’s true. It may be easier to get rid of a dog or a cat, but remember, given the work you invest, a pet will last longer than most marriages and give you a lot less aggravation as well.
Your next decision will be where to get your pet: rescue, breeder, friend, petshop, street corner, swap meet, and the list goes on. I can assure you that the majority of these decisions will come back to bite you in the ass. Getting a dog from a pet shop or over the internet supports puppy mills which breed poor quality dogs that have no guarantee of health and they promote the suffering of the breeder dogs that live in the cages on the farms where they come from. It’s the dumbest decision you’ll make. Dogs that come from street corner sales, swap meets, craigslist and friends are generally the result of accidental or backyard breeders. Both of these are totally irresponsible breeders who have no clue on what they are doing and supporting them is putting yourself and your new puppy at risk. People who breed dogs as a hobby or just for fun should be identified as what they are; backyard breeders. These are the same people that will dump the dogs that they can’t get rid of at the shelter or dump them in a plastic bag in a field when they have no other option. Which leaves you only 2 choices: breeders and rescue.
If you decide to get your dog from a breeder, you need to be sure that it is a breeder and not just someone who considers themselves a breeder. Just considering yourself a breeder doesn’t make it so. I know people who consider themselves singers, but can’t sing for a damn. True breeders are those that have one sole intention and that is the betterment of the breed. They understand what is needed to keep the breed strong, healthy and do everything to assure this happens. They don’t sell to people they don’t know, they ask for references, require applications to be filed and they will be there every step of the way. A good breeder will fight tooth and nail to get a dog back if they feel that you are not fulfilling your obligation as a parent. Good breeders work with rescue and good breeders generally don’t have puppies for sale. Why? Because good breeders generally have a waiting list, and oftentimes don’t breed until they know what is going on. If you want to know if someone is a good breeder, do your research. Ask questions, and I don’t mean only to the breeder, but to people who have gotten puppies from them. And once you’ve done this, sit back and wait, cause it’s gonna be a little while before they have a litter that you can choose from. Sometimes 6-12 months is standard.
Once you get that puppy, your work is cut out for you. Training, housebreaking, sleepless nights and more awaits you for the first 4-6 months, and that doesn’t include what the dog may destroy while he’s learning to teethe and play. But it is all worth it in the end.
Now, lastly, most importantly and most beneficially is rescue. Rescue is not for everyone, but it is for the strong majority of people. Rescuing is easy and very heartwarming. Every person I’ve ever talked to that has rescued a dog tells me that their rescue dog is different from any dog they’ve ever bought. They are more appreciative and form a much better bond, because they REALLY DO KNOW that they were rescued. Their dedication is different than other dogs and the bond that humans form with them is stronger. Just walk the aisles of your local shelter or humane society and you’ll see hundreds of pets that are ready to just jump into your family today. Especially the ones that are a little older, they oftentimes make the very best pets.
So, for 90% of people looking for a pet, rescue is the single best option. And remember, I’m saying a pet. People want a low-key dog that likes to play, loves taking a walk and is easy around the house. They want a dog with fewer health issues and a solid temperament and one that bonds well into their family. For this, a rescue mutt is about the single best option available. Pure bred dogs account for a small percentage of shelter dogs, but they are available there as well. It’s important to note that most inherent health problems become minimized through cross-breeding as well as selective breeding. But since all but a very few breeders are selective, many breeders breed genetic defects into dogs (I would hope only through ignorance).
It is the rarest of exceptions which would require a person looking for a pet to get a dog from a breeder, but if it does, it’s a very tough decision to make. I equate it to looking for a surrogate parent for a child. If you can put that much work into searching for your new pet, happy hunting, and please remember that millions of dogs enter the shelter system every year and are killed there for a lack of responsible people. PEOPLE, not breeders. People who dump their dogs in shelters are the blame for the millions of dogs that are killed there. NO RESPONSIBLE breeder would ever let their dog end up in a shelter, and if it did, they would be the very first ones to get them out.
For those that doubt my words, I challenge you to doubt those that call themselves breeders instead. If they let this happen, they aren’t. Let’s focus on a solution to the crisis. Get your pet from a rescue or a breeder, but learn what you are getting yourself into BEFORE you get the pet. Education is the key in solving the problem. If from tomorrow on NO ONE ever dumped another dog, we would stop killing dogs immediately. See the warning signs of irresponsible pet ownership and strive to fix it. Enforce leash laws, require pets to be spayed / neutered, teach responsible pet ownership including training of dogs… these are the road to the solution.
If given the option, I sincerely hope that you will choose to adopt and support rescue until there are no more dogs in our shelters. Furthermore, and most importantly, I hope you will stand up for animals’ rights and be their voice when they don’t have one.