Adding to the Family
By Evan Price
Mother’s Day (and ironically enough, my mother’s birthday) will soon be upon us. During this time, we take our special ladies to dinner, buy flowers and other gifts that convey our appreciation, and reflect on the time we have spent together. It is a time for us all to thank mothers everywhere for the gift of life, and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my own mom for the 44 hours of labor she endured to bring all 9 lbs. 3 oz. of me into this world. (I now understand why our family never got any bigger!)
If you are considering adding a pet (or two) to your own family, there are several factors to consider…
Which Breed Speaks To You?
While many of our customer like several breeds, they tend to have one in particular that speaks to them. If you can narrow down what type of dog you are looking for, it will make the process of finding one much easier.
Toy, Small, Medium, Large…Or Giant?
Many dog breeds come in multiple sizes (Schnauzers, Poodles, Dachshunds, etc.). Find the size that works for you. I always get a little bit of a laugh when I see 225 lb. men carrying dogs small enough to fit in purses. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but on the surface, it looks like a little bit of a mismatch.
On the other hand, my wife (who is 112 lbs. soaking wet) would probably not want a Bull Mastiff, as they can weigh twice what she does.
Does your lifestyle support the physical requirements for your dog? Generally speaking, smaller dogs do better in smaller spaces, such as condos and apartments, but this is not always the case. Some bigger dogs need very little exercise, or tire easily (Newfoundlands, for example), so a small space works well for them.
Conversely, some small dogs have tremendous amounts of energy, and require high levels of exercise in order to maintain proper health.
Puppy or Adult?
While the thought of a puppy with a bow on his head is a great visual, it is not always the best option. Puppies require much more attention and patience than an adult, especially when it comes to potty training, chewing clothes and furniture, and separation anxiety. If you are always on the go, but still desperately want a pet in the family, consider a dog that has already been housebroken.
Additionally, puppies may not be the best choice if there are also small children or elderly people in the house.
Purebred or Mixed Breed?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Pure breeds are typically more expensive to purchase - and to own, as they are more prone to genetic defects and health issues. This is sometimes the result of inbreeding.
The good news is that you know what you are in for, especially when it comes to size, temperament, and personality.
On the flip side, mixed breed tend to be healthier because of genetic diversity. You can cross the desirable traits of multiple breeds (although this does not always work out). That being said, you do not always know what you are going to end up with in terms of behavior.
Store, Breeder, Shelter, or Rescue Organization?
While this is not always the case, many retail stores or online stores that sell pets get them from less than reputable sources (i.e. puppy mills or backyard breeders). Puppy mills mass breed dogs for pure profit, and are more concerned with that, than the health of the pet itself. Overcrowding and neglect lead to physical and emotional issues later on.
Backyard breeders are essentially the same thing, but on a smaller scale. The dogs are often unregistered, which means that inbreeding is far more likely, and the backyard breeders often lack the requisite knowledge of health and genetics that they should have.
Breeders (real breeders) are a good source for purebreds and designer mix-breeds. You will have a chance to meet the breeder and the dog in person before making a decision, which often makes the transition smoother. Most dogs will come with certificates, and the breeder will give you detailed instructions on how to handle the dog. You will often pay a premium for your pet, but you will usually get what you pay for. Some breeders will also offer a return or exchange policy if the dog does not meet the owner’s standards.
Shelters are temporary homes for abandoned, lost, or homeless animals. Shelters will hold an animal until it can be reclaimed by it owner, adopted by a new owner, or find a more permanent residence (sometimes a rescue organization). Many of the animals here are well behaved (although they may be scared or in shock at first), and many shelters will perform a temperament test prior to adoption. Because these facilities are usually underfunded, they can become overcrowded, and sometimes, forced to euthanize some animals.
It is also often difficult to establish the previous health records or treatment history. Despite the sometimes grim circumstances, you should not be deterred… there are many quality animals (and even purebreds) here.
Rescue organizations are closely tied to shelters, and often take healthy animals that would be put down otherwise. Rescue organizations are run mainly by volunteers, and sometimes adopt the pets into their own homes until a suitable, permanent home can be found. They are screened for health issues and behavioral problems; although there may also be a more detailed screening process to make sure that YOU are a good match for the pet.
When the time comes to add to your family, please make sure not only that the animal is a good fit for you, but that you are a good fit as well. Whichever way you decide to go, please keep the preceding tips in mind.
Until next time…happy BARFing!
Evan Price is a Raw Diet Educator for BARF World Inc. He is a true dog lover at heart with a particular interest in Daschunds. Evan is also an avid sports enthusiast and bridge player. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet weekly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.