First, let's establish what makes a “perfect” pup?
The perfect pup is the dog who’s right for your family. Finding the perfect dog goes beyond the basics like breed, size, and age, too.
A dog that fits into your family’s lifestyle is more important. For instance, if your family loves to don wetsuits and hit the beach every Saturday, a dog afraid to swim might not be the right fit. If you hike for an hour before work each morning, a couch potato pup probably isn’t perfect. If you have a house full of cats, a dog with a strong prey drive is obviously not your (or your cats’) perfect pup. Before looking for the dog to add to your family, take some time to consider those lifestyle issues and what you hope for your new dog. Then, seek out the dog that ticks most of those boxes to find your perfect match!
Now, there are a few ways to find the pup most suited to you and your lifestyle. Here’s where to look for your perfect pup:
This is our favorite option! Your local shelter has tons of perfect pups! The great thing about adopting a dog from a shelter is that you have the opportunity to chat with the staff and volunteers to find out as much as you can about a dog. Most shelters will match you with an adoption counselor who can talk through your lifestyle and what you’re looking for in a dog. These folks know the shelter’s animals well and can introduce you to some potential fits.
There are all kinds of rescues all over the country. You can find rescues that alleviate the burden from overcrowded municipal shelters. You can find rescues for specific breeds. You can find rescues for specific special needs, like dogs who are deaf or dogs on three legs. There are even rescues that transport specific dogs around the country to match the right pup with the right family.
Another option for working with either a shelter or a rescue is a foster-to-adopt program. Almost all shelters and rescues have a foster program. That means a dog lives with a family until he or she is adopted. These organizations love foster-to-adopt families because it gets a dog into a home and out of the shelter, and it serves as a “trial” to see if the dog and family are a perfect fit. If they are, the family adopts the dog. If they aren’t--and it happens--the family can foster another dog in the hopes of finding the right fit. It serves the shelters well, too, because it frees up space and staff time while helping the dog find a family.
Some families want to purchase their dog from a breeder. The single most important thing you can do when you make this decision is to visit the breeder. Meet the parent dogs and the puppies. See where they live. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous dog breeders who don’t take care of their animals. If you choose to go through a breeder, do your due diligence to ensure it’s a reputable breeder who takes excellent care of their animals.
No matter which route you choose, the dog you bring into your family will be the perfect pup! Sure, it takes time and patience to help a new dog settle in, but the time and care you invest in your dog up front will pay dividends in love and joy.