I reccomend petfinder.com. It will let you see a listing of many of the shelter animals in your area. All the dogs at shelters are not going to be well suited to be family dogs, but a lot of them are! My parents have 3 wonderful, gentle, well trained dogs all from shelters!
Rescues or shelters that have their dogs in foster homes. If the dog you're adopting was in a foster home, you'll know more about it's temperament, behavior in a variety of situations, etc. than if the dog has mostly been in a cage barking for attention. Plus, dogs in shelters will often be stressed out, so you'll get a more accurate impression of a dog's temperament if it's in a foster home.
Just my two cents, though.
A lot of dogs from shelters make great family dogs. It's important to take the dog for a walk yourself, play with the dog, and see how it interacts with other animals and people at the shelter. The first thing my husband and I noticed about our dog when looking at the shelter was that she was the only one to not jump up and down barking in the cage when we walked in. Don't rush through the process. A dog is a big responsibility and is going to be a member of your family. Good luck!
We adopted Buddy, our first dog, from a breeder of Great Pyrinee dogs, he was an "accident". His mom a pure breed had him with an Australian Shepherd, and the breeder wanted to get rid of him. Buddy was a superb dog. Loving, loyal and a great watchdog. When he died, we went to the local Pound, and were fortunate enough to find two pure breed Australian Shepherds there, brother and sister, marled brown with golden eyes and super smart which had been abused and abandoned by their previous owner.
They are great dogs (mischievous, but fun) and have more than filled the aching void left by Buddy's death. So, if you visit your local animal society, you don't know what you might find. It could be the best dog you ever had! Check breeders too, they might have a puppy that is not part of the breed they are trying to sell, and you might get him for a very reasonable price or even for free!
I've always been in the mind of rescuing animals. Only once have I found it to not be the right match. The latest little guy to come into our home is a chiweenie. He was 6 months old, and this time around I was looking for something small, I usually go large because they have more difficulty being rescued, but this time it just wasn't an option. So, I checked the humane society several times, they had big dogs or little puppies. I looked on craigslist several times in surrounding towns even. I finally found this guy, he was 6 months old, and I contacted the owner. Who told me several things, that I found not quite truthful. When I got him, he was under weight, stunk of cigarette smoke, wasn't housebroken (if he went on a pad, it was only because you put it under him at the right moment), and was scared to death to go for a walk.
Within 2 weeks he was making great strides to let me know when he needed to go out, and had become to love going for walks, he has become quite the funny, sweet pup that I knew he was from the first time I saw him and he grabbed hole of my wrist and would not let go.
Two months later he is totally adjusted and although he as some funny quirks, it's just his silly personality. I think rescuing always makes the best and most loyal dogs....they are like people that have been in bad situations, they appreciate the good ones and the love of a family.
If you have a PetSmart in your area, I would adopt there. My son works for them in the corporate and they are an excellent store. Many of our friends and family members have adopted there. Also have a great dog sitting service.
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