Finding Your Best Friend

Author: Alecia Pirulis

dog adoption

Spring and warmer weather means festivals and events. Some, hosted by pet shelters, focus on our four-legged companions. One such event (aptly-named Woofstock) is taking place near Atlanta next weekend. These types of events are held across the country in a variety of forms, but they have certain elements in common: pet parades and pet costume contests, food, and music. Some add agility games while others make it a weekend-long event with all types of entertainment. Most benefit a local shelter or pet rescue group. And, well, they are a lot of fun.

I’m a big fan of anything that helps animals, especially those in need of a home. About a month ago, a friend of mine adopted a dog that had been abandoned. He was discovered and taken to a local rescue, where my friend found his picture on their Web site. When he was finally healthy enough for her to bring home, I stopped by to see her new addition. He looked so fragile, and all of his ribs were visible through his shaved coat, despite the fact that he had gained enough weight to be sent home with her. But in spite of all his troubles, he’s the sweetest little dog and I was heartbroken by his sad story. A few days ago, I dropped in to see him again and I couldn’t believe how far he has come in just a few weeks. He has gained weight, he’s happy and full of personality, and he has bonded strongly with my friend’s daughter, quickly becoming a valued family member. Unfortunately, a lot of dogs and cats in shelters aren’t so lucky.

Perhaps you’ve been considering a dog or cat – many apartment complexes are very welcoming to animals, even offering private dog parks for residents. If you live in a pet-friendly apartment community and are considering adding a dog or cat to your home, consider adoption. If you don’t know where to start, try the Humane Society or the ASPCA. From these Web sites, you’ll be able to search for pets available for adoption, get advice on pet-proofing your home, find out what you need to do before you adopt, and get tips on the pet adoption process.

First, consider your living space. If you don’t know, find out your apartment complex’s rules on pets. Some places are cat only; others allow dogs up to a certain size. Others may have breed restrictions. You’ll also want to ask about fees – is there a pet fee? If so, is it a one-time pet deposit or is there a monthly charge? Based on the answers, you will be able to decide if a pet will fit into your current lifestyle. If so, then will a dog or a cat work better for you? If it is a dog, you can then decide on the size of the dog.

If you’ve decided on a dog, research the breeds depending on the size of dog you are looking for. Small dogs, for example, can range from the tiny and active, such as the chihuahua, to the rotund and lazy (sorry, Peanut) pug. Some (such as pugs) are great with children; but some small breeds are better off with just adults. Select based on your family and lifestyle. It is a myth that you can’t rescue a pure-breed or a puppy, but don’t overlook the mixed breeds and older dogs. My friend’s dog is nearly two years old and appears to be mostly schnauzer, but he’s apparently part poodle. This combination gives him an adorable mixed-up look, with his schnauzer face and curly poodle coat.

Once your home is ready and you’ve stocked up on supplies, it’s time to bring home your new best friend. Rescuing a pet adds another level of satisfaction and happiness to pet-ownership. Enjoy being a hero to your new little roommate – you’re both on your way to a whole new adventure.