Ah, puppy love! Puppies are cute, lovable, and a lot of work. At some point your children will ask for a puppy. Perhaps they already have and you are pondering the question, “Are we ready?”
We were asked the question years ago. Finally, in September, the time was right. The kids’ ongoing efforts to convince us to get a puppy, which included adding “dog” to the end of the grocery list, and leaving googled pictures of cute puppies on my computer screen, culminated with a school assignment to write a persuasive essay.
My highly-allergic son, it turns out, is also highly-persuasive. His essay “Why We Should Get a Dog” resulted in an “A” from his teacher and a wonderful addition to our family.
My son did his homework. Not only did he write a wonderful essay, he also researched dog breeds that would be right for us and systematically addressed all the possible downsides to having a pooch.
Do your homework:
What is your family’s personality? Are you active? Quiet? Busy? You will want to find a dog that complements your home life so everyone will be happy.
According to Jeff Messore, a director at Hopkinton’s Baypath Humane Society, “We work hard to match each of the shelter's animals with the most compatible family possible. Therefore, we interview potential adopters and ask many questions about your home, family, current pets and day to day activities. Although this may seem intrusive, we want our adoptions to be successful and our interview process is our best assurance for that success.”
Are YOU ready for a puppy? Of course your kids are. But even if they are old enough to walk and feed the dog, as well as pick up the poop, the big responsibility falls on your shoulders. If you are not ready, the family is not ready.
The first six months of a puppy’s life is very time-consuming. House training, playing and regular monitoring of the dog is necessary no matter what breed you choose. Plan on a few solid months focused on your puppy to establish good habits and a lifetime of good behavior.
Do you have room in your budget? Adopting a dog will add a line to your family budget. Costs include: food, training classes, spay/neutering, immunizations and ongoing health care, town dog license, toys and treats, boarding/dog sitting services while you are at work or on vacation, and grooming among others.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals www.aspca.org/ estimates that the minimum first-year cost for dog is $1,300-1,800.
Other organizations put this cost closer to $3,000 when including additional supplies, emergencies and incidentals. These figures do not include the purchase price of a puppy which can range from approximately $150-$350 for adoption from a shelter to thousands of dollars from a breeder.
Does anyone in your family have allergies? There are many “hypo-allergenic” dog breeds out there. However, no pet is guaranteed to be allergen-free. Research breeds, visit homes that have these dogs and let the allergic family member spend a lot of time with them.
If you find a breed that works for you, visit a reputable breeder to spend time with the puppies and/or parents to test to see if the dog will work for you. An Australian Labradoodle turned out to be the best puppy for us. My son is not allergic to her and her personality is the perfect match for our family.
Adopting a dog is a long-term commitment that can bring a family a world of joy. Taking the time to consider all the factors in finding the perfect match for your family is well worth the effort.
These resources may be helpful in your homework:
Baypath Humane Society
5 Raftery Road Hopkinton MA 01748 435-6938
167 Saddle Hill Rd
Hopkinton, MA 01748
Most dogs at Greyhound Friends aren't puppies but greyhounds are beautiful, gentle and loving dogs.
Many dogs at Baypath Humane Society may have been given up because an owner died, moved, divorced or other reasons unrelated to the dog's behavior. Talk to the shelter staff. An adult dog may be right for you. (The six-month period of accustomization to your home goes for these dogs too but they already are housebroken and know basic commands.)
- Ruth Ann Cote