You have decided you want to add a dog to your life. Congratulations!

Now the questions you should ask yourself:

--What is your lifestyle? (active, moderate, couch potato)

--What part of your day can you allot for dog care? If everyone in the family works, how much time will the dog be left alone? Consider your morning/evening commitments – with a new ‘family member’ you may need to get up 30 minutes earlier to walk the dog, or prepare breakfast, etc., and take into consideration your after school and evening activities.

--What kind of dog do you want?
Do your homework – learn about the different breed characteristics of temperament, coat care, activity levels – don’t just pick a pretty picture, or what your best friend says is the ‘dog for you’, and don’t let people sell you a bill of goods.

--Does your choice fit your lifestyle?
If not, are you willing to adjust? And is your family willing to make those same adjustments?

--How much daily care is involved in your choice?
Again, do your homework – an extra 1.5 hour a day is an extra 10.5 hours a week!

--What possible health problems are associated with your choice of breed?
Again, do your research, and ask your Vet; some dogs have problems almost solely associated with that breed ( such as Scottie Cramp ), and contrary to popular believe any breed can be effected by Hip Dysplasia.

--Do you want a puppy , young adult, older dog?
Sure, everybody wants a puppy, but think about the benefits of a mature dog.

--Can your finances afford all the things required to keep a dog happy and healthy?

If you have come up with answers for these questions, here’s one more:

-----Have you looked at a rescue dog?
A ‘rescue’ dog is not one your co-worker found wandering as a stray and is looking for a ‘good home’ – the co-worker is to be commended for helping that dog, but it’s NOT a ‘rescue dog’.

There are shelters with every imaginable breed and mix breed of dog, but there are also purebred rescue groups for almost every breed. Most purebred rescue groups are made up of people who have bred, shown, or just loved that particular breed. What better place to find out if this breed will be a suitable addition to your life! Rescue people are acquainted with the habits, care, feeding, grooming, and adoration of the breed(s) they assist in placing in new homes.

Dogs that end up in a rescue situation are not bad dogs. They can be dogs that did not fit into their previous situation, through no fault of their own; maybe they got too big, too active, too old, didn’t like the new baby, their family got divorced, or their family moved. Rescue dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and ages.

Rescue dogs are generally kept in foster homes. The people live with and evaluate the dogs constantly. They do their best to expose the dogs to different situations and gauge their reactions. The dogs get to meet children, ride in the car, greet other dogs and cats, all in an effort to evaluate what kind of home would be the best fit for each dog.

Responsible rescue programs will have the dogs thoroughly examined by a veterinarian. If necessary, they are updated on required vaccinations, checked for heartworm disease, intestinal worms, spayed or neutered, and have their teeth cleaned.

Rescue groups and foster homes invest a lot of time, love, and money into dogs in their program. The main intent of rescue is to find these dogs their “forever” home. A potential adopter needs to know that all the questions are to assure the dog’s safety and well being. Adopters will be asked to fill out an application, provide veterinary and personal references, and allow someone to visit their home and talk with them.

Fees to adopt rescue dogs are usually nominal, and vary with each group. Rescue charges a fee to help defray some of the costs incurred, and to assure there is funding for the next dog that needs help.

Purebred rescue groups are great sources of support too! The foster home is only too happy to help with the dog’s adjustment period and to answer any questions that may arise. Many of the groups have email lists of new owners and seasoned veterans, so help is close at hand.

To locate purebred rescue groups, start at the AKC website. The link is The breeds are listed with contact websites or phone numbers. If you don’t find the breed you are looking for, got to a search engine (Google) and type in the breed followed by Rescue and your state. This should give you a few places to start your search.

There is no greater love than the love shown by a rescue dog when he is finally “home”. I have lived with rescue dogs most of my life. When they start to settle in, and find their spot on the bed, they let out this tiny sigh…as if to say “I’m home now…”, and it makes whatever the future has in store worth it, because you finally have your dog. I hope you will consider a rescue dog. They will fill your life in ways you never imagined, and you can be the happy ending to their story.

North Carolina Responsible Animal Owners Alliance

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