When I first saw my dog, he was peering out at me from a cage outside of Petco. He didn’t hold eye contact for long (there were other pets and treats that claimed his attention), but it was enough for me to fall in love with his adorable brown eyes. His torn ear helped him gain a little sympathy too-if his previous life was rough, surely he needed a good home to be adopted into. As I paused in front of him, one of the volunteers from the adoption organization came up to me and asked if I wanted to walk him (accompanied by her of course) down the sidewalk. I said yes, and after giving him a treat to win him over, we started the walk. He was very strong and pulled, excited to be released from his cage. When a child approached us and asked to pet him, however, the dog stopped and showed a more gentle side, sniffing the kid gently.
I knew he was the dog for me.
Still, I didn’t want to rush into the decision, so I reluctantly went home without him. I had been contemplating getting a dog prior to seeing him, but I had a few things to consider. I already had a cat, which could be a potential issue if the two did not get along. I was also hoping to move into a new apartment within the next few months. Since I did have my cat, I was already looking into pet friendly places but adding another pet would increase pet fees.
I finally chatted to my parents and roommates, and while they cautioned me about the responsibility, they seemed to be okay with it.
The next day, I drove to Petco, hoping the dog was still up for adoption-and he was! I signed the adoption papers, picked up the essentials, and went home with my new companion. I named him Scooby after my favorite cartoon, which ended up fitting his goofy, food-driven personality perfectly.
Most people hear the heartwarming adoption stories, but they do not see what happens next. Yes, it is still a wonderful experience to bring a new pet home, but dogs do not adjust to your lifestyle right away. Especially when you adopt an older dog, they may have already learned behaviors that conflict with your expectations. Sometimes the adoption agency will know more about the dog’s habits and you can talk with them to get a better idea of what you are getting yourself into, but sometimes they don’t.
Scooby was no exception to this. Being a four-year-old American Foxhound with no known background (he was found wandering in a rural area), many things were unfamiliar to him. He had a lot to get used to.
When I brought him to my apartment, he looked at me like I was crazy when I showed him the stairs-I had to coax him up. My cat Tigger didn’t like him very much, but Scooby had trouble getting the message. He was curious and wanted to get in her personal space while she wanted nothing to do with him, so I made sure to keep them separated. Scooby was crate-trained, but he wasn’t potty trained and had accidents indoors. He was afraid of almost everything-whether a car drove by or you accidentally dropped a box, he would bolt (or try to). He tugged on the leash every time I took him out. He barked whenever someone left the apartment. He didn’t know any commands. A visit to the vet a few months later diagnosed him with heartworms, even though he was negative on the forms and I gave him heart worm preventatives since adoption (the test doesn’t always catch baby worms within the last six months) .
Although these behaviors and situations were not ideal-it was okay because I wanted to spend the time to train him.
Besides, Scooby has quite a few admirable traits. He’s not a picky eater, even when it comes to taking medicines. He is also very affectionate and friendly. He loves people, and although he may jump on adults (we’re working on that), he’s good with children. If you invite people over, he’ll greet every person happily. He’s silly through both his actions and mannerisms, which is guaranteed to brighten my day.
Children are often told that they haven’t considered the responsibility of getting a pet when they relentlessly beg for one, but the truth is, many adults don’t take this into account either. They fantasize that their new companion will fit seamlessly into their life right from the start, but that’s not always the case. Pets require your attention and training. It is amazing to adopt a rescue animal, but some of these pets might have been raised differently. Scooby was four years old when I adopted him. He had plenty of behaviors, and I helped him adjust to my lifestyle. He understands that I’m not going to leave him.
After I adopted him, he’s learned a lot. He has learned to sit, spin, and stay. He’s potty-trained. He and my cat reluctantly get along, although Scooby will bark and chase her when she decides to run through the house. He discovered a love for chew toys. Scooby still has heartworms, but he’s getting treatment that seems to be working.
Speaking of heartworms, dogs can be expensive. Even a seemingly healthy dog can run into issues, whether it’s worms, ear infections, etc. It is important to get the proper care for your pet, so take this into consideration prior to adoption as well. Do you have time to bring your future pet to the vet? Can you afford it?
Dogs are not an inexpensive fad to try until you find something new-they’re an investment.
Any pet regardless of age will likely have behaviors that don’t fit into your lifestyle-perhaps they’re not potty trained, they bark excessively or they’re too aggressive. Researching the breed can help you understand some of their behaviors better, so I would recommend learning as much about a dog as you can prior to adoption. Despite their differences, pets require you to teach them and love them. One they trust you, pets are loyal and will stand by your side no matter what; you should do the same.
If you are looking to adopt a dog-that’s great! You must be willing to work with them, however, and be prepared if any health issues come up. Please do not adopt a pet only to return them later for a simple issue. I understand some situations may require you to part with a pet, but it’s not a decision to take lightly.
Pets, like people, are not perfect. They can teach us incredible things, like how to wake up every morning with a smile on our face. They can brighten our days and cuddle with us when we’re upset. They make wonderful walking and running buddies, and they’re incredibly loyal-but they are not perfect and stress-free. The best things in life, however, never are.