You've finally made the decision to adopt! *cue the confetti*
I couldn't be more happy for you! You are on the path to changing an animal's life forever. Let me tell you, as the caretaker of three rescue dogs, there is no better feeling than the one you're going to experience.
“But how do I pick just one?!”
While the prospect of adopting a pet might seem scary, I've put together a list to help you in deciding who you'll pick to be your fur-baby.
Don't rush into it.
One of the most important things to remember when adopting is to not rush and to be picky.
Yes, adopting is a beautiful thing. And wanting to give each animal a home is great.
However, animals don't get to choose the families they're taken in by. They don't get to have an option or a say in the matter. So as their potential future caretakers, it's important that we keep their best interests in mind when choosing to adopt them.
Yes, that small puppy might look adorable and is desperately in need of a home, but is your home the home it needs?
Whether he's hyper or mellow or sleepy or ditzy, it's your responsibility to keep in mind that puppy's needs and to decide if his temperament, age, size, and everything else are best suited for your household.
Otherwise, you're setting him up for failure. And there's nothing more tragic than having to return an adopted animal because “it didn't work out” - especially if it could have been avoided in the first place.
So, yes. Be picky. Treat adopting an animal the same you would choosing a husband or a wife. Don't rush it and take care when picking. Because adopting (like marriage) is not a month-to-month commitment. It's for life.
There are no stupid questions when it comes to adopting - or at least none that I'm aware of.
Remember this: the animal you choose to adopt will be your responsibility until his or her final day. Depending on their age, that could mean years or even decades of that animal being a part of your family.
The more questions you ask, the better understanding you'll have and the more prepared you will be for the commitment you're about to make.
Most shelters will even do this wonderful thing called kennel cards!
These kennel cards are filled with great information such as 'dog aggressive' and 'loves kids'. Reading these, as well as asking additional questions to the volunteers and workers who have personally worked with the pet, will help you decide which pet is right for you and prepare you for any rehabilitation or training that the pet may need.
Size does matter.
When it comes to adoption, size matters.
The size of a pet is a direct reflection of the exercise and physical stimulation it needs to live a happy, healthy life.
It should come as no surprise to you that the bigger the pet, the more activity he or she will need. So, if you are interested in adopting a Siberian Husky but aren't able to commit the time to give him or her the exercise he or she needs, then you're home may not be the best fit.
Also, keep in mind the size of your home in comparison with the size of your potential pet. The larger the pet, the more room they will need and the more room they will take up.
When I adopted my second rescue dog, his size was something that I had to extremely take into account - especially since I lived in a tiny apartment. (He's a German Shorthaired Pointer)
Seeing as my home space couldn't provide him with the room he needed, I understood that, in adopting him, I would need to provide him with continuous exercise and outdoor stimulation. And while on some days, running my 60 pound dog is the last thing I want to do, I still do it. Because that is what I signed up for when I adopted him.
When I adopted my third rescue dog, Sansa, she was timid and scared and shook when approached. Having worked in the veterinary field, I was familiar with what such a temperament and attitude would mean when adopting her. It meant that I would have to have patience. It meant that acclimating her to my home would take time. It also meant that allowing her the time to decompress was essential to her mental and emotional stability.
If you are unfamiliar with animal body language, then I urge you to read up on the basics before going in to pick out your forever friend. Because while animals may not have a voice, their body can speak volumes.
Once you've familiarized yourself with non-verbal signals, you can take into account the amount of love, patience, and training a pet may need once you take them home.
This will help you in making the best decision when adopting.
Although intuition typically goes against rational thought, I am a strong believer in the situational exceptions of intuition - when it comes to adopting.
It doesn't happen often, but there are those unexplainable moments when you look at an animal and know that they belong with you, regardless of the amount of time you've spent with them. In this surreal moment, you don't care how much time and energy and resources it will take to care for the pet. You just know that, no matter what, you want to be there for them.
This is a beautiful moment and I urge you to cherish it. Connecting with an animal on this level and feeling such strong ties isn't something you should ignore when picking your forever friend, but rather, something you should embrace and take into consideration when adopting.
Following this feeling is how some of the best, most lasting friendships are formed.
(Note: Yes, follow your gut. But you should still try and ask yourself if your home is the best fit for this pet, even if you don't like the answer.)
So many animals are returned to shelters and rescues after being adopted out because of - in my opinion - ignorance or lack of preparation. I do want to take a moment to remind you that the idea behind this article is not to teach you the right and wrong ways of adopting, but rather, to prepare you to make the best decision possible for you and the pet. Because what every animal wants is to be adopted into a home that is not only suitable and comfortable but one that is going to last.
"We didn't realize how much work a puppy would be.” “He doesn't listen to me.”
"She barks a lot.”
"He's too hyper.”
I've heard it all before - and it's all avoidable. Most rescues and shelter will tell you the same thing. As sad as it is to see a pet in need of a home, you shouldn't adopt a pet that you aren't ready or willing to properly care for.
Most rescues will tell you, they would rather hold onto a pet a little longer than place them in a home that is not the right fit.
After everything these pets have had to go through, whether its abuse or neglect or abandonment, it is a rescue's responsibility to place them in a home that can meet all their needs.
Being honest about yourself is the first step to being the best pet parent. Taking the leap to adopt with eyes wide open will bring so many new joys and an overall happier home.