Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dog Days of Winter

Our family is getting bigger! After Andy and I talked about it for a few weeks, we have decided that we're ready to take our next big step together. We felt that we were finally at a point in our lives that handle the challenge of bringing another life into our home. 

We decided to adopt a dog!

Brining an animal into your home is a big responsibility. Both of us have grown up with dogs and we understand how big of a commitment it is. We also understand how much time it takes. 

Yes, we did discuss getting a puppy, and while puppies are adorable and fluffy and we love them, we decided against getting one. Heres why (soapbox warning): 

Puppies are more difficult to train. Yes,  you can weed out bad behavior before it becomes a habit, but puppies require more work than an adult dog. Not only do puppies lack full social skills, they also have short attention spans and tire quickly both mentally and physically. You are literally starting from ground zero. Building a relationship with a puppy as well as teaching obedience and social skills is a daunting task. Andy and I understood this and knew we couldn't take on that particular challenge at this time.

Puppies can be unpredictable. Puppies are not fully grown or developed, obviously. But this makes it quite a challenge to select a good fit for your family. At a young age, puppies all kind of act the same: they play, they bite, they run away, and then they nap. Although there is always a measure of behavioral uncertainty when getting a dog of any age, puppies are extra difficult. We knew we couldn't handle a highly active dog, but didn't want a total snoozer either. Those aren't traits you can determine from a hyper active, nap taking puppy.

Puppies are puppies. I know that's the whole point, but there are certain behaviors I did NOT want to deal with before getting to enjoy our dog. Teething. Puppies will chew anything. They don't understand what is ok and what is not; their teeth hurt, and they want to chew. Potty training. Any dog you bring home will need to be watched for accidents, but puppies have loose bladders and bowels. There's very little warning before they pop a squat and ruin your carpet, and with puppies being more difficult to train than adult dogs, potty training can also take longer than desired.

Overpopulation. Have you ever been to an animal shelter? There are so many good dogs (and cats) without homes. When you choose to get go buy a puppy, you are often depriving a homeless animal of having a home while simultaneously encouraging puppy mills and backyard breeders. Some dog activities require a purebred (AKC or other dog competitions), or a high content mix (recreational sporting), and there are registered and reputable breeders for that. If you don't care for a purebred, go to the shelter! Pet stores often get their puppies from puppy mills. Puppy mills are horrible places with terrible living conditions where dogs are kept for the sole purpose of making puppies. Backyard breeders are, in my personal opinion, irresponsible. Yes, everyone loves puppies, but there are too many dogs without homes to justify unnecessary breeding. I don't have anything personal against owners who choose not to spay or neuter just because they want puppies (not for reputable breeding or competition purposes), but I've been to the shelter many times and I've seen how many good dogs are there. If you chose to spay or neuter and not to have puppies, you would decrease the amount of dogs in the shelter and encourage adoption (even if only by a little bit). Ok, rant over!

Anyways, after deciding to adopt, Andy and I discussed in length what type of dog we would want. When I say type, I do not mean breed. There are breed specific personality trends, but by all means breed does not necessarily equal personality. We knew we wanted mid energy. We wanted a dog we could go out and play with but would also come in and snuggle. We also didn't want any underlying social or behavioral problems: our dog needed to be good with children, other dogs, be willing to be pet everywhere, and not be protective of food, space, or personal items. These were all safety precautions. Our families have other dogs that our dog would need to get along with. We also have nieces, ages 5 and under. They would want to play with the dog and we needed to know they would be safe no matter what they did (literally the instant they met our dog they were all over her--stealing her toys, pulling on her ears and even her three inch tail). Lastly, we wanted a dog that valued our attention over anything else.

We went to seven different shelters and rescue organizations and saw over 100 dogs. We only found one dog that fit all of these criteria. Not going to lie, I had been perusing the online postings from shelters and saw our little girl before we even met her. I ruled her out based on looks, I thought she was kind of ugly (she looked kinda chihuahua-ish, and they aren't my favorite), and she looked old. Old dogs are amazing, but Andy and I couldn't afford that right now.

Online Shelter Listing

I can't believe how wrong I was.

First off, she was only one year old--not 8 like she looks. Second, she is the cutest little dog ever.

When we went to the shelter, she ran up to the front of the cage, whining. She licked my hands and tried to snuggle through the bars. We decided to take her out and screen her for the above criteria. She passed with flying colors. We were surprised--we actually found a dog that would work for us! We came back twice more to continue screening, and introduced my mother and Andy's family's dog to her as well. She continued to pass. She even knew how to sit, lay down, and fetch already! We decided to adopt her and we took our little baby home. Andy and I, being science majors, named her Tesla after one of our favorite scientists, Nikola Tesla.

Her first night home
She has been such a wonderful addition to our lives. Our families love her to pieces and so do we. She loves snuggles, but will still play for hours. She was already potty trained, spayed, and declawed, suggesting she had a previous family. We have no idea what happened for her to be in the shelter, and why no one adopted her first (she was there for two weeks), but we're so happy to have her. 

I love our little girl
PS. Her breed has been the subject of much debate in our family. She obviously is mixed, but as to what we don't know. She has a short, double coat, heterochromia (two different colored eyes), and is only 20 lbs. We've guessed everything from husky-chihuahua to aussie-jack russell. We're getting a dog DNA test through dnamydog.com, and are looking forward to the mystery being solved!

No comments:

Post a Comment