I come from a long line of dog lovers, and for me, my home would just not be complete without a dog. I have had dogs all my life, and in my early twenties my parents gifted me a puppy for my birthday. Vinny was a chocolate lab and in all honesty, probably one of the best dogs ever. He was lazy and sweet and patient and just truly a good dog. When he passed away in November of 2012, I knew that we would get another dog, but I also knew that I really wanted a mutt this time around. My mom always said that mutts were the “best of everything,” and I knew that I really wanted to rescue a dog this time around as opposed to buy a dog. There are so many dogs in need of good homes.
When we started our search, I was completely overwhelmed with the information available to me. In the Boston area, there are TONS of rescues. After contacting some and doing more research, I found that some seemed to really just be looking to make a buck and didn’t have much interest in the best home situation for their dogs.
Are You Really Ready for a Dog?
A dog is a HUGE lifestyle change and a very long commitment. You should expect that your dog will be part of your family for the next ten to fifteen years. If that doesn’t sound like something your family can commit to, then a dog is probably not a great choice.
Who will take care of the dog? If your kids are on the younger side, than it will most certainly be you. Many older kids will offer to help if you get a dog, but remember, no matter what, the responsibility will most likely fall back on the adults in the house.
Dogs are expensive. Most rescues require an adoption fee. Once you have the dog home, you’ll have vet expenses, food, training, and additional expenses when you’re on vacation for dog sitting or kenneling. You also may want to consider a dog walker or doggy day care if you plan to spend long days out of the house, as some dogs struggle with being left alone for long periods of time.
Think about space, too. Where will the dog sleep? If the dog requires a crate, where will you keep it?
Make a Wish List
Before you start your search, make a list of what you really need in a dog. Most importantly for us was if the dog was kid-friendly. We also were specific about size (we were looking at about 50-65 pound dogs, which sounds big, but was smaller than our Vinny!) Some things to think about: pet-friendly if you have other pets at home, housebroken if you don’t want to have to train them, and what kid of exercise they require.
We adopted Eddie when he was estimated to be 1 1/2, so he was already housebroken, which was great!
Ask Friends for Recommendations
It’s a great idea to ask friends for where they have adopted their pets. Ask what the expectations were, what the process was, and what the fees were. Ask if they were happy with them as a whole, and if there were any requirements of the adopters (for example, some groups require fenced in yards– which we didn’t have, so that knocked them off the list for us.)
Our rescue, for example, has a Facebook group for adopters and it’s become a great resource for our family. We can get recommendations on products or services and ask questions if we’re having any issues with our dog.
Most organizations require an application process before you get started.
Once we had our application submitted, we had to do an at home visit to be certain that our home was safe for a pet. We passed that and got clearance to meet some dogs!
Meeting the Dogs
Meeting the dogs you’ll be potentially adopting is really fun, but you also have to be honest. We met a puppy that was very sweet and would have been a perfect fit for our family, but he gave me hives! I kept telling myself that I would just take allergy medicine, but let’s be honest– that wasn’t sustainable, and luckily my husband put the kibosh on that. I cried for three weeks over that dog!
When we met our Eddie though, we knew he was the one. He was wild on the leash (and still is, we’re working on that!) but was just such a sweet dog (and didn’t give me hives!) That was nearly three years ago, and now we can’t imagine life without him!
Rescuing a dog is a rewarding experience, but there is plenty to think about. It’s a big commitment and really needs to be something that your family puts a lot of thought into.
If you need a list of items you’ll need when you bring your dog home, Petfinder is a great resource.
If you’re looking for a rescue in the Boston area, we could not have been more thrilled with Last Hope K9 Rescue.