Get Help Choosing the Perfect Older Dog

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Get Help Choosing the Perfect Older Dog

by Jonni Good

I just visited the local Humane Society, and it reminded me of the most difficult problem you experience when choosing a 'used' dog. It's a canine version of 'false advertising.'

The quietest dog in the kennel could turn into the most exhuberant barker in your yard. The friendliest dog may just be begging to be uncaged - and he could be just as eager to find his way out of your yard and into trouble. The dog that looks the biggest and baddest may actually be a couch potato who licks your cats instead of chasing them, and who will be far happier on your lap (although he couldn't possibly fit) than in the back yard.

It's easy to take home the dog you think will be perfect, based on past experiences with other dogs - while the pooch you really need, (and who really needs you), was passed by.

So how do you get to know the dogs well enough to choose the right one? By getting to know the people at the pound.

Anyone who works or volunteers at an animal shelter is deeply in love with animals. They know that finding the wrong home could be just as traumatic for their dogs as not finding a home at all.

For that reason, they will be honest if you ask about a particular mutt in their care. They'll want you to know every idiosyncrasy, every strange habit, every destructive or inconvenient behavior. They won't just tell you the good things about the dog, because they don't want you to be surprised when you get your new dog home.

Even better than finding a dog and then asking about his history and temperment is to find a person at the shelter that you trust and ask him or her to watch for your perfect canine companion. Let this person know what type of personality you're looking for, the perfect age, and the level of training you would like your new dog to have before you adopt him. Also share a bit about yourself - your age, your expectations, your limitations. Call back regularly to let the shelter know that you're serious about finding the perfect dog for you, and they'll call you when "your"' dog walks through the receiving door.

My stepmother used this technique to find Oscar, a Wolfhound/Airdale cross who was a perfect fit for her. If she were looking on her own, the size of this big-hearted mutt could have turned her away - but the shelter folks knew that Oscar belonged was exactly the right dog for her. Fortunately, she trusted their judgement. She and Oscar entered into a long and successful relationship. He finally passed away 4 years ago, and he is still sorely missed.

Copyright 2006 Jonni Good

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