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RECYCLED LOVE: Things to consider when getting a new dog

Pictured is of Tuk, owned by Elizabeth Andrews, who is a rescued dog who has brought years of smiles to his family. CONTRIBUTED
Pictured is of Tuk, owned by Elizabeth Andrews, who is a rescued dog who has brought years of smiles to his family. - Contributed

"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."

– Roger Caras, photographer and writer

Deciding to bring a dog into your home is very exciting for everyone involved, but the decision should be made with forethought as it can be a 10- to 15-year commitment. Whether you are adopting or buying a dog from a breeder, you need to ask yourself some questions and understand the obligations when bringing a pet into your life.

Choosing which breed or mixed-breed of dog will fit into your family's lifestyle is the first step. Some dogs require quite a bit of exercise and mental stimulation, while others can be considered couch-potatoes. The dog's size is essential when you factor in the size of your home, yard, neighbourhood and who will be walking the dog. As an example, younger children or older adults may struggle with a larger breed of dog.

Once you have decided on the breed or mixed-breed, where you find the dog is the next step. If you are adopting, you will need to consider the age of the dog that will match your family or personal circumstances.

Rescues and shelters are full of puppies, younger dogs, adult and senior dogs looking for loving homes.

An adorable puppy is not for everyone as they require a substantial amount of consistent training and can be a drain on your time.

A younger adult or senior dog may be a better match for you and your family.

Adopted dogs arrive in your home with a developed personality, house trained, socialized, and, most times, they have been vaccinated, spayed or neutered.

If you are buying from a breeder, you will need to do research beforehand to find an ethical, responsible breeder. There are many terrific breeders, but sadly, there are also bad breeders. You want a breeder that produces healthy, well-balanced dogs.

Ask the breeder for references from people who have bought dogs from them and also check with the breeder's veterinarian.

You can check with local veterinarian clinics privately, who may have clients that own one of the breeder's dogs. Check with friends, co-workers and even neighbours as they may be an excellent reference for responsible local breeders.

Now that you have selected your new pet and where the pet will be coming from, you have a few last steps to complete. Your home should be prepared for the dog's arrival. Decisions need to be made, such as their walking and feeding schedule, where the dog will sleep, and who will be the primary caregiver.

Obedience classes may be necessary. Purchases should include toys, bowls, collars, leashes, name tags and a bed.

You may want to book some vacation time to help your dog settle into their new home. Adding a dog to your family will bring you and your family many years of heartfelt fulfillment if you do your homework and preparation beforehand.

Please be kind to animals.

Tracy Jessiman writes the weekly column Recycled Love and is proud to be a “voice for those with no choice.” She supports various animal rescues. Reach her at recycledlove@me.com.

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