Updated: May 4, 2019
I’m not sure anyone is ready to adopt an animal. You can prep and plan and search for the perfect companion for as long as you’d like, but when that animal comes into your home, life as you knew it is no longer. IT IS BETTER. SO MUCH BETTER.
"Adopting a pet won’t change the world, but your world will be changed forever." Kristen Perino, From #Selfie to Selfless
I adopted my little pup July 2018, from the Lange Foundation, which is located in Los Angeles. It was love at first sight; I just knew I had found "the one". I lovingly named him Pinot (Grigio) because he's white, light (7lbs), and people are always happy to see him!
But when I first looked at his records, everything had not been so happy for Pinot. His original name was Corky, he was 5 lbs of skin and bone, and I quickly realized the trauma that he had already endured in his short two years of life. Pinot (Corky) was turned into the shelter with a severely broken back leg, with zero circulation, and it likely could have been in that painful state for a while. After a 7-day process, doctors knew that he still had a chance to live a healthy life without that back leg, so they had it amputated. And they did an incredible job with the surgery, so now Pinot can happily walk, run and play as a little tri-pod in his new home. Other than his emotional trauma (which we are still getting through), Pinot is a medically healthy pup.
I LOVED working with Lange Foundation; they made the meet-and-greet process so easy with their pups, they had updated information of who was available, and you can stop in any time (during their hours of course), to meet a pup you might have seen available online.
Even if circumstances such as time, money, job, or housing won't allow you to permanently adopt, there are still some other options to get involved! (or maybe just test the waters to see if you are ready to commit):
1) PLAYTIME! So many animals just need someone to play with. I WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU TO CONSIDER DONATING JUST 1 HR OF YOUR TIME EVERY WEEK to show up at the local shelter and help the overwhelmed staff by simply playing with or feeding the animals. For some people, this is the best of both worlds, you get to play and interact with animals, without the 24/7 responsibility of adopting one!
PLEASE LOOK INTO YOUR LOCAL SHELTERS ONLINE to find those opportunities.
2) FOSTER Foster parents are crucial to a dog's life while waiting to find their forever home. Unless it's a "No Kill Shelter", they can only keep an animal for so long before they have to put them down, so they can make room for other animals being turned in.
Forster parents come to the rescue by offering a safe environment for the animal to live, until a permanent owner comes along, so their lives are never endangered by clearing space to make room at overly crowded shelters.
But!!! IF YOU ARE READY TO ADOPT, then here are some things I wish someone told me….
Some of my TOP TIPS when adopting:
KNOW WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR AHEAD OF TIME!
Start with what type of animal. I knew I was looking for a dog for sure, no questions. But then!!!, figure out size and breed of animal according to your lifestyle. For example, I live in an apartment, so as much as I LOVE Labs and Huskies (and can’t wait to adopt them in the future), I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to house such a large animal in such a small space. It also wouldn’t be fair to my neighbors below me to hear a massive dog stomping around the wood floors! I knew I needed a smaller companion, something under 15 lbs.
Also, keep in mind the age. Do you want a puppy, who still has plenty of years (and energy!) ahead of them, or do you want an older dog that is more mellow and you don’t mind going through the “final days” process.
You will come across SO MANY incredible animals during the adoption process, and in the moment, you will want to take each one home, but stay focused on what you’re looking for.
CHECK INTO THE MEDICAL RECORDS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!
Many shelters and adoption agencies won’t be able to provide every detail, or most often, the animal was a stray, so they can only provide very little details. But ask as much as you can, or ask to see the Veterinarian assessment when they were turned in. Many times, the shelters or agencies won’t list everything.
For example, as I started the road down the adoption process, I had to be realistic with myself. I knew that I did not have the time, resources, or funds to adopt an animal with pre-existing health conditions (such as a history of tumors, current tumors, going blind, etc.) I will absolutely handle those medical issues if/when they come with Pinot, but I wasn’t in the place to realistically leap into that straight out of the gate. I needed time to get acquainted to my New Best Friend, and our new life together, before I dove into doctor visit after doctor visit.
But if you do have spare time, resources, and funds to adopt with medical needs, then PLEASE DO IT! There are so many animals that need the care and attention.
GO SEE THE ANIMAL IN PERSON!
Some animals can look different, act different, or just be different from how they are listed online. Animals are like people; they each have their own little personality, and again, just like people, they don't always photograph the best! It’s important that you see the dog for yourself; how do they interact with you, and you with them? Do you want a dog that is good with kids? Do you want an animal that is more mellow, or are you OK with a lot of energy? Is the dog bigger than you expected? Do they jump up a lot or bark incessantly?
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT NO ANIMAL IS PERFECT…. just like no human is perfect, so manage your own expectations. Training and patience are non-negotiable when becoming an animal owner, but just keep in mind top priorities (it’s like dating!) .
If a specific dog grabs your attention, YOU CAN ASK THE SHELTER TO EITHER TAKE THE DOG ON A WALK, OR ASK FOR A SMALL AREA TO PLAY IN FOR A WHILE, so you two can get to know one another. I had walked and played with probably a dozen dogs before I found what was right for me. I would fall in love with the photo online, but then when I saw the pup in person, I knew in my heart, it just wasn’t the right fit. But when I saw my little Pinot for the very first time, I KNEW he was my dog. And the irony is that I had originally gone that day because I was excited about another dog.
BE READY TO ADOPT IMMEDIATELY!
If you're not ready to commit, then don't look. It will only play with your head & heart. I found so many pups that I became excited about, but by the time I called to make an appointment to see them, they had already been adopted. Or I would randomly go scope out my local animal shelters to see who was recently turned in. Sadly, there’s new animals added nearly every day (if space allows), so some times the local shelters don’t have enough time to constantly update the website.
IT’S OK TO FEEL OVERWHELMED IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST ANIMAL!
Us humans are naturally selfish creatures, so there may never er be a great time to of sacrifice our own schedules, money, and lifestyle. YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE, but it will CHANGE FOR THE BETTER, FOREVER. It was a huge adjustment for me, but that’s because I’ve lived a selfish lifestyle for a long time. Now I need to care for something else, other than me, and it has shifted my focus in such a way that has left me changed forever.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE AN ANIMAL-WHISPERER TO ADOPT!!
It's OK to not know what you are doing. Ask for help. Find other dog owners in your neighborhood. Look up doggy play classes, or training courses.
My most favorite "top-tip"....
PS- for any singles out there, having a dog is a FANTASTIC WAY to get out there and mingle, without the pressure of online dating or meeting at a bar. Dog parks are full of singles, and conversations organically happen when the pups play.
(You can thank me in your speech at the wedding ;-) )