The Search for a New Best Friend: How to Select a New Dog

Selecting a new dog for family

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How do you find a love like the one between Charlie Brown and Snoopy? Or is that something you’ll only find in the funny papers? Your answer could be in a nearby animal shelter.

Forget the puppy mills. Forget the newspaper and online ads promising the world for a little more than a nominal fee. That can sometimes buy you a huge headache. Rather, go to a shelter in your area and find the best friend you’ve been craving. These dogs want to be saved, and once they’re rescued, they never forget.

Before you begin your search, know who you are and what you need in a dog. If you live in an apartment, you certainly don’t want a very large dog that needs a large yard in which to run. If you’re older and live a quiet life, you don’t want a highly energetic dog. Do your research.

Do you have children? Research the best breeds to be around kids. Love walking or jogging? Find a compatible dog who can not only keep up with you, but loves that lifestyle. Once you know what size dog and you’ve narrowed down the breeds, you can call shelters or go to visit to see what’s available.

Don’t be afraid to bring questions with you. See what you can find out about the history of the dogs there. Why are they in the shelter? What are their needs? Do you readily find a fit? If not, don’t be afraid to leave and keep up the search. Don’t just take a dog because you feel sorry for it. You don’t want to do more harm than good. You’re not the only person searching for the perfect best friend, after all. And this decision is meant to last an animal’s lifetime, so use both your heart and your head.

Get medical histories, if they’re available. Get personality information and learn about how the dogs are with other pets. And when you survey the dogs, see who stands out. Is there a dog who seems to be choosing you? Don’t ignore how they react to you. Find a dog who is very friendly rather than staying in the back of the crate or baring teeth. Spend some quiet time with a dog of your choosing and see how you relate. Take the dog for a short walk. Play with the dog. Get to know each other for a little while to see the possibilities.

Take your time to find your new best friend. It may just change everything for both of you.

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