Dogs Are Life-Long Commitments! Think Before Adding a Furry Friend to YOUR Family!

Dogs do NOT make good gifts!
Dogs do NOT make good gifts!

Who doesn't love a puppy!? They are irresistible sweet little bundles of adorable, fuzzy fur. Many people fall into what I call the puppy trap. They acquire a puppy without realizing the HUGE responsibilities that come with dog ownership. After all, dogs (of all ages) require care, love and your time! Not to mention they can be expensive (think food, medical care, various products such as dog training collars and of course, dog treats!).

Before I continue, I must mention (and you have probably heard this before) that dogs are not ideal gifts! Surprising someone with a puppy as a birthday or Christmas present may sound like a good idea but trust me it is NOT! Choosing a canine companion is something that must be well thought out and planned. It is a fact that many puppies, as well as older dogs, are dropped at shelters after the holidays due to the fact that the person who received the gift just wasn't prepared or ready for such a huge responsibility. So the next time you think about surprising someone with a puppy…play it smart (and safe) and buy them a stuffed one instead!

Puppies are a HUGE responsibility. Are you prepared?
Puppies are a HUGE responsibility. Are you prepared?

Buy or Adopt? That is the question!

In my opinion, the choice is obvious! Millions of dogs are euthanized every year due to the fact that there are just not enough homes for them all. Most, if not all puppies that are for sale in pet stores come from puppy mills. Puppy Mills are HORRIBLE places where dogs are bred for profit and more often than not, ignored and not cared for properly. When you buy a puppy from a pet store you are supporting puppy mills. Many of the breeder dogs that are found in puppy mills live in small cages where they are forced to eat and sleep in their own waste. They rarely get exercise and do not know what it means to be truly loved. I truly believe that dogs have feelings. Can you imagine living your entire life in a small cage…never feeling the grass under your paws, not knowing what it is like to be snuggled and cared for? Sad, very sad.

If you MUST buy a dog.

 If you have your heart set on a certain dog breed, no worries! First of all, there are MANY purebred rescue groups that specialize in specific dogs. For example, Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue is a non-profit rescue group that specializes in…you guessed it, Beagles! In 2008 alone they saved over 300 Beagles that were either abused, abandoned or given up due to personal issues. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of dog rescues in the United States alone. If you still want to purchase a purebred…remember to DO YOUR HOMEWORK! True breeders care about their dogs. They care about their health, happiness and well-being.  It is very important that you RESEARCH the breeder you are considering buying a dog from.

Signs of a GOOD breeder.

The following is a list of signs of a GOOD breeder. Remember, the more you know about the breeder you are dealing with, the better!  

  1. They ask you questions…and lots of them!
  2. They require that you RETURN the dog to them if for some reason you can no longer keep or care for it properly. As previously mentioned, a good dog breeder CARES about what happens to their animals.
  3.  They ask for references including the medical records of any dog (or dogs) you previously owned.
  4. They explain their breed to you including possible heredity problems (they should also provide you with the health records of the dogs that are in their care…including the parents of the puppy you are considering). They should also provide you with a written guarantee of "good health."
  5. They NEVER pressure you to buy a dog from them or push one particular puppy on you.
  6. They do not "put down" or gossip about other breeders.
  7. Breeders that "show their dogs" or have dogs that compete in agility and or obedience competitions really know their stuff! Bonus points for them!
  8. They wish to stay in contact with you and are available to answer any questions should they arise.
  9. They ask what type of home you will provide. For example, they may be concerned if they breed St. Bernards and you happen to live in an apartment.

Bonus points for breeders that enter their dogs in agility and obedience competitions!
Bonus points for breeders that enter their dogs in agility and obedience competitions!

The Bottom Line

If you want to add a furry friend to your family make sure you do your homework. Whether you rescue a dog (which I highly recommend) or purchase a pup from a responsible breeder it is very important that you are prepared for such a huge commitment. Dogs are not disposable. They are wonderful animals with feelings who truly want to be members of a loving family.

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