Adopting a puppy is a serious decision

Thirteen million families will receive a puppy this Christmas, half will be surrendered before the next Christmas arrives. It is unknown how many die or are killed in that first year. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of dogs exist miserably lacking basic care, housing, food, exercise or social interaction. Buying a puppy should be considered a long-term investment. Most dogs will live 14 to 16 years.

Plan a good experience by supporting a reputable breeder that upholds Breed Standards. A “Breed Standard” is a written description of a purebred dog. Breed Standards may include or exclude certain traits or colors or sizes to protect the offspring from potentially serious health complications. The Breed Standard of any purebred dog is easy to find. Be aware that the concept of “hybrid vigor” is only as good as the parts of the equation. Both parents of mixed breed puppies should be of sound structure including mouth, nose and eyes. Both parents should be free of allergic conditions and any other congenital weakness. Testing may be necessary to prove absence of disease.

An “expensive” well bred guaranteed healthy puppy will end up costing less in the long run than the poorly bred cheap puppy with structural problems and behavior and allergy issues. The financial costs, frustration and disappointment of a random puppy buy can be life altering.

The time money and effort necessary to own a dog is serious. They require daily care and nurturing. They need an environment that is calm and predictable. Animals need to live with people who are open to learning and exploring the world of caring for a pet.

Seminars and training are available for all levels of learning. Plan training classes into the initial cost of a dog. A simple weekly class starting when your puppy is 12 weeks old will help evaluate your progress and keep your relationship moving in a positive direction. These classes should continue for one year if not for the life of your dog.

Grooming is another cost to consider. If you intend to groom your own puppy be sure to learn safe procedures. Weekly professional grooming is recommended from 8 weeks of age. Gentle consistent handling by a familiar stranger will help your puppy be comfortable in other situations. It is recognized that dogs not groomed regularly as puppies before 6 months of age are likely to resist grooming for life.

Good nutrition needs to planned into the family budget for the dog also. Fresh whole food is essential for proper development of structure and disposition. A plethora of problems exists in feeding poor quality cheap food.

Dogs are social companion animals. No dog should ever be forced to live in frightening surroundings, unkept, chained or malnourished. Children should share in the responsibility of owning a pet and adults should demonstrate the utmost care in promoting the lessons of nurturing a helpless creature. A person’s character can be judged by the care they give their animals.

Be a crusader for good animal ownership.

Anne Deliman

The Paw Print