Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog
Stray Dogs with Little or No Training. Most shelters, whether they in rural areas or highly-populated cities have stray dogs with little or no training. These dogs may be picked up by local animal control officers, dropped off anonymously on the doorstep, or referred by local veterinarians or concerned individuals. Stray dogs present a much lesser known quantity and therefore a much higher risk than dogs that have a documented history. For example, dogs that have been voluntarily surrendered by their families may come with information about their previous household. You may know that a dog was raised with cats, and gets along fine with other animals. Or that a dog previously lived in a household with children, and was a good family pet. Or it is housetrained and knows the basic obedience commands of come, sit, and stay. With stray dogs, you have no such information about their backgrounds. Stray dogs may range from shy, apprehensive animals that have been poorly socialized, don't trust humans and jump at every loud noise to confident, friendly dogs that enjoy being petted and played with that make ideal companions. But, temperament testing, which is discussed in the next chapter, can reveal a fair amount about a stray dog's temperament, even without the help of a known history. However, if you're considering adding a stray dog to a household with other dogs, cats, small animals, or especially children, you should arrange a first meeting to gauge how the stray dog reacts to your household. Alternately, talk with the shelter about bringing the dog back if it doesn't integrate well into your home life. Stray dogs may also be at higher risk for a broad assortment of health problems that can require veterinary treatment. At the very least, you should get a complete veterinary examination as soon as possible after adopting a stray dog, preferably before introducing him to other animals in your household. If you're not prepared to deal with the potential expense of unexpected medical problems, keep looking for an animal whose history makes him more likely to be free of expensive-to-treat medical conditions. Unhealthy Dogs Surrendered by their Families. Some families don't look at dogs as animals but as possessions. When these possessions begin to malfunction, they trade them in for a newer model. Even families that dearly love their animals may not be able to keep their dog if he develops an expensive-to-treat medical condition. Inevitably, every shelter or humane society has one or more animals with ongoing or chronic medical conditions. Sometimes these animals are poorly bred purebred dogs that originate with commercial breeders, backyard breeders or puppy mills. When you adopt a dog from an animal shelter, ask about any health problems of your potential adoptee. Many shelters have a policy to fully disclose information to adopters because a failure to disclose information is likely to result in the dog being returned to the shelter. If a shelter tells you about a dog's unhealthy history or if you have your dog vet tested after adoption and find significant health problems, ask yourself if you are realistically able to deal with the challenges of providing for this dog.