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Adopting vs. Purchasing a Dog

Adopting a pet from a local animal shelter or rescue organization is a most fulfilling experience. It is one of those stand-still moments that remains etched in your memory forever. That pleading get-me-out-of-here face you can’t resist. And the feel-good emotions you wear out the door – after all, you just saved a life.

Let’s face it, animal shelters aren’t the most upbeat places in the world. When you leave, you wish you could take more animals with you.

Adopting a pet is most often consummated on emotion. Love at first sight. Your heart is ahead of your head, recognizing that shelter animals’ time clocks tick for only a short time.

Be Aware of the Limitations

While you are saving a life when you adopt from a shelter, what you see is not necessarily what you get. In the case of puppies, you won’t see the animal’s parents, so you won’t get a clear picture of an adult dog’s psyche (i.e. emotional baggage). What happened to him with his previous family? Why is he afraid of men? Why does he cringe when small children are around him?

When you purchase a purebred, chances are he will be from a breeder and will be a puppy. At least one of the parents should be nearby so you can check for size, temperament and condition. The cleanliness of the facility, the breeders’ knowledge of the breed, the point at which they are willing to let the puppies go (it should never be before eight weeks of age) and the puppies’ socialization skills should be tip-offs to the quality of the kennel.

Those who adopt from a shelter tend to be much more open-minded in their expectations. Conversely, if you are dealing with a breeder, you most likely have done some homework and decided this is the breed for you.

Your resource list for purebred dogs should include professional trainers, breed-club personnel and books by authoritative trainers and behaviorists. Stay away from breed-specific books, which tend to have too many implicit prejudices.