Love at first sight may not be best plan of action when it comes to finding the perfect pet match for your personality. There are a lot of things you should take into consideration when picking out a pup from the shelter.
The goal is to form a lasting relationship; a special bond. And just because an animal is so stinkin’ cute you can hardly stand it doesn’t mean you should bring it into your home.
“There’s a perfect dog out there for every good person who wants a dog, if you’re willing to look past what you THINK you need,” said Shawn Aswad, founder of the Nashville-area animal rescue Snooty Giggles. “For example, Great Pyrenees dogs are beautiful, but they don’t make good lie-around-the-house pets. They’re working dogs. They need land, they need sheep or other livestock to protect – they want a job.”
Shawn, who has been rescuing animals since childhood, says there are some questions you should ask yourself before taking the plunge into pet parenthood.
Once you’ve determine that you are indeed ready, and you’re willing to put another creature’s needs above your own, really think about your personality and lifestyle. Channel your inner matchmaker – for the sake of you and your new friend.
QUESTION #1: HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO DEVOTE TO THIS DOG?
Owning a dog takes a lot of time and dedication. Even if you have a large backyard where your pet can roam, leash walks are highly recommended to keep your pet healthy and well socialized. Do you have time for that? And don’t forget about the vet visits. Can you fit those in? Also, if you’re constantly running off to the next social event or afterschool activities, you may not have the time needed to be a dog owner.
“If you’re too busy, get a cat,” laughed Shawn. “Especially if you were thinking about getting a puppy – I won’t even adopt puppies to fulltime working homes. A puppy needs a lot of work and attention.”
QUESTION #2: WHAT IS YOUR ENERGY LEVEL?
“Your energy has to match your dog’s,” said Shawn. “It’s not just about breed, it’s about age, temperament, everything. What do you do when you get home? Do you get dressed to go for a run, do you sit on the couch and watch TV?”
Shawn suggests that if you are not a very active person, then perhaps a young Lab, Border Collie or Golden Retriever would not be the most appropriate match.
“You need an older dog that can relax with you,” she said.
QUESTION #3: CAN I AFFORD THIS DOG?
Shawn says there are certain breeds with more medical issues than others.
“For example, English Bulldogs – in their eight-year lifespan, it can cost you thousands of dollars in medical bills.”
And don’t forget, if you’re pondering a bigger dog, that will mean you’ll be buying MORE FOOD.
“Feed a quality food,” recommends Shawn, who believes you shouldn’t skimp in this department. “I’m a food snob. You’re looking at $50 a month for a decent kind to feed a lab.”
Bigger dogs also need bigger beds ($$). They’re more expensive to groom.
Your bank account should definitely be a big consideration when you’re searching for your perfect pet match.
QUESTION #4: WILL YOUR LIFESTYLE WORK FOR THIS DOG? WILL THIS DOG WORK FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE?
Do you travel? Can your dog go with you? If you have a favorite vacation rental you’ve enjoyed for years (and you’re not willing to give it up), will they allow dogs? Do you have a TRUSTED and CARING pet sitter if you are not able to take your dog?
Are you in a home with plenty of property and room to roam, or do you live in an apartment? Consider how much space your dog will need. And that brings us to #5.
QUESTION #5: CONSIDER THE FUTURE
If you live in an apartment, that darling little furball may fit in perfectly now. But that may not always be the case.
“Keep in mind if you’re getting a puppy, a lot of them at shelters are mixed breeds and you can’t tell how big they’ll be,” said Shawn. “If you’re in an apartment, are you prepared to make a move if your dog exceeds the weight limit your landlord will allow?”
Of course your perfect pet match must be amazing with kids if you’re parents of young children. However, your perfect pet match must also be amazing with kids if you plan to become parents in the future.
“You need to look for a dog you know is a great family dog,” said Shawn. “You need to find one that adapts well to change and new people. Those are generally not your little dogs. For example, a Jack Russell Terrier probably won’t be happy with that baby coming into the house. Think of your situation now and down the road.”
QUESTION #6: IS MY PERFECT PET MATCH A PERFECT MATCH FOR MY CURRENT PET
If you already have a cat, clearly you have to find a dog that digs it (or at least tolerates it without fighting like…well, cats and dogs).
If you are a dog owner, the new dog has to gel with the one already in your home.
Shawn and the volunteers at Snooty Giggles go to great lengths to help potential adopters find the right fit.
“We have to meet the other dogs of the home on neutral territory,” said Shawn. “We really need to make sure they’re a match. Generally you can tell. We start with a walk and act like we’re just passing by each other. Then we’ll start walking together, let the dog get used to the smell of the other dog and get comfortable with the other dog. There’s no initial tension because most dogs are already relaxed when its’ walk time!”
Then there’s the big question in any relationship; what will it be like if we move in together?
“For people who have always had an only dog, what can happen is that everything is fine at the meet and greet, but when the only dog realizes the other dog is staying, they can start pouting,” said Shawn. “Give it a two-week trial period; they will adjust. And generally they’re better dogs for it.”
So, what have you decided?! What kind of dog do you think will be most compatible with your personality & lifestyle?
If you’d like to support Shawn Aswad’s Nashville-area animal rescue, Snooty Giggles, please check out our Fetching products. We donate 40% of profits to help homeless pets, and this month (March, 2016) we are giving to Snooty Giggles. Thank you for your support!
We’d like to thank Sara with @TheHarborHounds from Instagram for our sweet featured image. Snooty Giggles provided the rest of these adorable pictures. Thanks so much!