It still makes me belly-laugh when I recall my adorable Henry’s adoption story. As a newly-married first-year law student with a husband who traveled during the week for work, one normal Saturday morning I decided I was lonely and wanted/NEEDED a companion and study buddy. So, naturally, I went down to the local animal shelter, made a quick trip through the two aisles of adoptable dogs, and walked out with the pup I deemed the cutest in about 20 minutes. I fell in love with him because he had that one little ear that didn’t stand up. And THOSE SCRUFFS! Oh, my heart. Suddenly, I was a dog person. While this situation could have so easily produced a wildly different result, Henry and I were [miraculously] a match made in Heaven. However, what I did not know then but do know now is that adopting a dog is a decision that should be made with care and deliberation, and there are some important considerations (other than cuteness!) in making sure the pup you choose is the perfect match for you and your lifestyle.
Picking the right age. Does your heart want a puppy, but your head knows you need an older dog?
Puppies. Of course, puppies are adorable and enchanting and a lot of fun (and who can ever get enough of that precious puppy breath?!), but they are a LOT of work – much like having a baby! It’s important to make sure you have the time, energy, and patience to dedicate to properly raising and training a puppy. Think: puppy-proofing, house-training, behavior-training, teething, chewing, LOTS of poop, LOTS of toys, LOTS of energy, LOTS of noise, but LOTS of charm. While adopting a puppy, like having a child, is a massive, long-term commitment, it can be a tremendously rewarding (and entertaining!) experience.
Adults. The term “adult” encompasses really a pretty broad range of animals – those at just a year to around seven years old. Naturally, there is a lot of variety in dog energy and personality between these ages. The advantage to adopting an adult dog is that you know what you’re getting with regard to the dog’s size (and other such physical traits), breed/heritage, energy level, behavior, and temperament. Plus, adult dogs are generally housebroken (and if not, they DO have the physical capacity to hold it – unlike puppies!), house-savvy (more likely to mind their manners while you’re away), and well-socialized with other dogs and humans. An adult dog can be integrated into a new family much more quickly and with considerably less work than a new puppy. Look at adopting an older dog as analogous to gaining a new best friend (rather than having a baby).
Seniors. Senior dogs are dogs around seven years old and up. They are often overlooked in shelters, but a senior might be exactly what you need! Seniors are just as cute and lovable as puppies and adult dogs, but having already learned many of life’s lessons, they often come with the wonderful qualities that puppies take years to grow into. Senior dogs are typically more laid-back and need less exercise, perfectly content to cuddle the day away. They have a tremendous amount of love to give and are the most loyal companions. *Senior pups often make great companions for senior humans who might be looking for the company of a less-active, less-demanding dog in the latter part of their dog-loving life.
Finding the right energy level. It is vitally important to make sure that your new pup’s energy will harmonize with your own.
Evaluate your own energy level. Your own energy level helps to determine what kind of dog is the perfect match for you. Consider how a dog’s energy level will harmonize with your own. If you’re a daily runner who wants a partner for her weekends hiking and biking and running and kayaking, you need high-energy dog who’d enjoy those ten-mile runs. On the contrary, if you like to sleep in, read books, and watch Netflix marathons, your new bestie might be a lazy couch-potato who takes life at a more leisurely pace. Take some time for some self-reflection to ensure that your energy levels don’t conflict.
Appraise a potential dog’s energy level. While dog breeds don’t necessarily dictate personality and energy levels, some dog breeds are known for having a certain energy or temperament. Do some research so that you can begin your search for a dog with a few ideas in mind. Also, if you begin your search at a facility where dogs are caged, remember that it is difficult to gauge the energy level of a potential dog who is in a cage. Many dogs become frustrated and edgy after spending a significant amount of time kenneled. Ask shelter or rescue staff about the dog’s temperament, and take him out for a walk yourself. You’ll have a much better idea of his underlying personality and disposition after you’ve helped him get out some of that pent-up energy and frustration!
What kind of dog are YOU looking for? Let us know if we can help you find the perfect match for your needs and lifestyle!