Snoqualmie Pets 101: Deciding on the Best Time to Adopt a Dog

In her latest Living Snoqualmie column, dog trainer Melissa Grant, who works for LeChic Pet in Issaquah, guides those wanting to a new furry family member.

I recently was called to meet a new client, Robby the Rottweiler. Robby had a sad short life up until this point. Shuttled around to different animal rescues, under socialized and isolated, it looked like his life was on the upswing when he met his new loving family.

For two weeks everything went great. Then slowly, some of Robby’s issues started to show. The family had three little girls and Robby started displaying some motion-reactive behavior. In short, when surprised he would growl at his young mistresses. No teeth or lunges, but the beginning of something not so great.

Now while this clearly isn’t optimal behavior, neither is it something impossible to fix. Think about it. Robby had no experience with a busy household. He spent most of his two years in relative isolation and now was dropped smack dab into the middle of planet family. It scared him. With time and patience, Robby could potentially become a fabulous canine citizen. Unfortunately, his new family didn’t have the time to give to him and decided to return him to the rescue.

The decision was made with many tears, but was the right thing to do. The family had a busy social life and soon would be moving to a new home. Since Robbie hadn’t displayed this behavior up until this point, they had no way of knowing their home wouldn’t be right for him. It was a brave choice to let him go to a calmer, more suitable home. Someday they’ll be able to welcome a new furry buddy into their home and it will be right.

So how do you know when the time is right to welcome a new canine friend into your home? Take the time to ask yourself a few questions to help determine if now is a good time for you.

Do I have any significant life milestones coming up?

Sit down and think about any major life changes that may be coming up. This can include, but is not limited to, houseguests, new jobs, elderly pets, vacations, the holidays, large parties, moving, welcoming a new baby, surgeries, job changes or construction. If any of those things are coming up, now may not be an optimal time to adopt a new family member. Life should be calm – heck even dull – when you bring a new dog home. This can help ease the transition.

How are my finances?

We all know pets aren’t cheap and new pets can be very expensive. Think of all the paraphernalia related to pet parenting, especially a new pet. There is the bed, collar, leash, food bowls, food, treats, licenses and toys – not to mention grooming if you get a coated dog.   There are also vet bills for immunizations and fixing. Make sure your pocketbook is in good shape first.

Is everyone in the family on the same page regarding this pet?

Frequently I show up at homes with new pets only to find the house divided on the new pet. Dad or mom didn’t want Fido and are refusing to participate in some part of the pooches introduction. It goes something like this:  “Ok, get the darned dog if you want, but I won’t be walking it or cleaning up after it or training it.”

There should be a consensus on dog ownership – or as close to it as you can get.  For me, I can’t live without that furry dog presence – so that is a first date conversation or grounds for divorce.  Everyone should know their role in pet ownership and be held responsible for some of the work involved.

The decision to adopt a pet is not one to be taken lightly. Make sure the time is right and your expectations are realistic. Think with your head first and your heart second. Doing this will provide a strong foundation for you and your pet that will last for the life of your new pet.

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