Tips for adopting a dog

A series of dog blogs from the Underwater Dogs Haircare Company. Informative, candid; with a touch of dog-lovin' humour. - Chapter 4

Author: Gayle Walker – Founder of Underwater Dogs Haircare Company.
A massive love for Ralph (the family dog-hooman) and a passion for professional haircare saw the Underwater Dogs Haircare Company evolve from dream to viable concept. In affiliation with Seth Casteel, world renown Photographer and New York Times Best Selling Author of ‘Underwater Dogs,’ Gayle’s aim is to educate dog owners about good skin & hair health in dogs, along with a splash of underwater fun. Find out more about the Underwater Dogs Haircare Company here.

In Chapter Three, I talked about the untimely death of our first Cocker Spaniel Dudley, bitten by a snake on our rural property – Aged 2.

It had been a devastating time as the little fella had endeared himself to us all and so, we made the emotional decision to replace him.

When we brought Ralphie home eighteen months later, the little man literally transformed our lives, for without doubt – he was Dudley Mk2!

Ralphie 2005

Same colouring, markings, disposition and personality. Karlene at Royoni Kennels had been serious about breeding another Dudley -and had the experience and blood-lines to do so.

We could not have been more moved.

Dudley’s adventurous spirit was alive in Ralph, and he retraced many of his paw prints.

As a family, we had decided to return to Sydney and in doing so, spared Ralphie too many opportunities to roam.

He now had the opportunity to become a ‘City Dog;’ learning to walk on a lead, introducing himself to others at the dog park and, discovering all there was to know about coffee at Gloria Jeans.

I know he didn’t understand the boundaries…fences, garden gates, footpaths, ‘don’t go on the road,’ ‘stay,’ ‘sit,’ ‘wait’ -but he was adaptable, and eventually grew into some very massive paws.

Funnily enough, another of Dudley’s traits.

So, you’ve done your homework, and you’re definitely getting a dog. 

You can afford to keep a dog, but you’re thinking the cost of a thoroughbred might be a bit too much for you.

Or, you’re just not sure if you want a pedigreed pooch, or a pre-loved-but-now-abandoned soul that needs a home.

What do you do?

If you would prefer to adopt, rather than shop for your new dog (and get the bonus of being able to tag #RescuedIsMyFavoriteBreed on Instagram), consider bringing home a pet from a shelter. 

Thousands of dogs are available for adoption in your area, and is a great US based resource, as is Pound Paws in Australia.

Both organisations will help you narrow your options.

Listed below are tips for getting started.

Please read on…

“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever” Karen Davison.

Chapter Four – Tips for adopting a dog

*Please note: Some pictures or references in this blog contain sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing


Determine your Needs

Before going to the shelter, have an idea of your needs.

  • Are you looking for a dog of a particular breed, size, or gender? 
  • Would you prefer a puppy or an older dog? 
  • How much space do you have, and how many hours per day are you away from home? 

Contrary to popular belief, even purebred dogs wind up in shelters or rescues, and almost every preference can be accommodated.

Brian Hunter, renown Dog Trainer says,

Picking a dog at a shelter can be very difficult. The biggest mistake is taking the dog “that picked you.” These are decisions of the heart strings and not the head.

Picture Credit: Abigail Saxton Fisher

“I have had many clients that flat out picked the wrong dog for them. I am a trainer and one of the services I offer is accompanying clients to the shelter to give opinions on the dog of interest or a dog that was not initially picked but has the ingredients of a better match. Ask trainers in your area if they provide this type of service and use them. Aside from knowing the breeds and their typical traits, they can also read the dog’s energy level to identify a good match for you. Many times, the dog you see at the shelter is not the same dog you see in your home a month later.”

Research your Options

There are many different opportunities to save a dog besides your local animal shelter.

If you have your heart set on a specific breed, such as a beagle, consider looking for a Beagle-specific rescue (warning:  it may be impossible to leave without saving all the dogs).

“Rescues exist for nearly every preference, including seniors, tripod pets, and those rescued from abusive pasts.  Do not limit yourself to one option, take time to check out as many dogs as possible”

Have an Open Mind

Even though you may arrive at the shelter or rescue with a specific idea of what you want, keep an open mind. Many people walk into the shelter adamant on bringing home a puppy, only to leave with a one-eyed, three-legged soul mate.

Go Slowly

Adopting a dog is different in many ways from bringing home a brand-new puppy. Any new dog will require an adjustment period, but this fact may be especially true for a shelter pup.

For instance, if the dog was relinquished by a family or if the owner passed away, there may be a mourning period.

If the dog was found as a stray, there may be growing pains in learning how to coexist with humans.

Ultimately, respect that your new dog has experienced many changes in a short period of time and do not expect too much, too soon.

Benefits of Adoption

Are you considering adoption but still unsure if it’s right for you?  There are numerous benefits to bringing home your new dog from a shelter or rescue.

1. Save a Life

The most obvious reason to adopt is that you could be saving a dog’s life. Rescue dogs take all forms and for some euthanasia could be imminent.

In the United States alone, nearly 2.7 million dogs are euthanized each year.

Even if the shelter is “no-kill,” adopting from the shelter opens-up space for another animal that would otherwise be turned away.

2. Know the Personality

A puppy’s true personality will take time, possibly years, to develop.

If adopting an adult dog, you will already know the animal’s personality quirks, as well as any potential behavioral problems.

This knowledge will save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run.

3. Already Trained

Many rescued dogs already know basic obedience skills; or, at the very least, the word “no.”

While many people would like to start with a puppy because they feel it is a “blank slate,” the truth is that training a puppy from scratch is a lotof work.

Training an adult dog often requires less time, due to increased attention span and willingness to please.

4. Unconditional Love

Sure, a puppy will provide unconditional love, but the affection that a shelter dog shows is special.

These dogs seem to have a unique understanding that a different world exists, and that you provided a second chance.

This is especially true for senior or special needs dogs.

The Greater Good is an independent charitable US Organisation devoted to improving the health and well-being of people, pets, and the planet.

Statistics reported show that:

Each year, close to 7.6 million companion animals (approximately 3.9 million dogs) enter Shelters in the U.S.The percentage of dogs entering shelters who are adopted is nearly 35%, with 31% euthanized, and 26% who enter as strays reunited with their owners.

The Jerry Files

Pup Update – Ten Weeks


“At ten weeks Jerry is so mobile; totally into playing, running, chasing and… guzzling his food. OMG -he seems to be starving ALL of the time and we’ve really noticed his overall growth. He has no idea that he is the centre of our universe. Life’s good – and why wouldn’t all these Hooman’s be here for me, myself and I.”  Ash Sukhwani a.k.a. Mother of Jerry

Still not sure which option is best for you? 

The next article will discuss an alternative option that is often overlooked: Fostering a Dog.

Up next – Chapter Five: Tips for fostering a dog

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