7.19.2009

Lessons in Adopting a Pet

I've met lots of neat people, and one not-so-neat person, during our thus far week-long search for a family pet. One of the major lessons I've learned is that, no matter what good intentions are behind it, most foster/shelter ppl have no idea what the real story of the dog is--and some make up stories which have illogical flaws in them. Unless they've spent extensive time with the pet, they will not be able to identify and understand the symptoms of whatever it is the happened to the pet.

This is why it's important to ask A LOT of questions, medical, daily, food aggression, kids/pets reaction, etc. Many of these little guys are in need of serious socialization and bonding, which means intense time and work on the behalf of the adopting family.

Another thing I learned is that pit bulls or American Staffordshire dogs are sweet and very loyal, unlike the dog-fighting and accident news reports would have the public believe. These dogs may become aggressive only if a trigger shoots them off, typically, and therefore, it's of utmost important to focus extremely well on obedience training and bonding with the animal to understand their idiosyncrasies and maintain pack leader authority over them. This requires special types of owners, not for everyone. I love these guys and especially boxer/Am-staff mixes, but I'm afraid that because of their weight and special training needs, I wouldn't be able to take care of one at this stage in my life.

One foster mother said the pet I was interested in, a very shy Beagle mix, slept in her bed. Why on earth would a foster parent who is looking for someone to adopt a pet create a bond with the little guy of that caliber? The pet will become more traumatized than they should when they go to their forever home, and need more help to settle in. This person also told me that she tried to cut the pet's nails but the pet was struggling to such an extent she had to call in her husband to hold the pet down, so she eventually and accidentally ended up cutting a nail to the quick...if the dog is that nervous, why bother at all? Let the dog alone or go to a vet or groomer--a professional. Why aggravate an already nervous pet? I'm very sad to say it, but I got no sense of security, experience, or trust when I talked to this woman over the phone and learned about these incidents. I will not be adopting from her shelter/rescue.

Another very important lessons I learned is that it's very, very important to read as much as possible and learn as much as possible about dogs and their health. Don't be afraid to question your vet, or change vets if you don't trust the answers or the tone of voice yours gives you. You'd change your doctor if you had an issue with how they were treating you, wouldn't you?

Are all those vaccinations really needed? Is that canned/dry food really good for your pet? What role can raw food have in improving your pet's health and immune system? Ask, ask, ask. Never give up! You owe it to your pet and yourself to be an informed consumer, especially after the food poisoning mess that happened a year or so ago with the melamine-for-protein enriched food made in China.

Never give up, and always learn as much as you can when you meet each new person in the search for your forever pet. We're throwing our net widely and then learning and refining our search with each encounter. We're sure we'll make the right decision when the right pet for us comes along!