As we focus on the warmth of the holiday season, don’t forget there are four-legged friends that need a loving home this Christmas.
To help introduce pets with people, the Manchester City animal shelter is expanding its free pet adoption near the Christmas parade stage at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5 on the square.
One key to forging the best pet-person bond is picking the right dog for your life.
“Don’t make the mistake of only picking a dog by ‘looks’,” said Coffee County Humane Society co-president Hazel Fannin.
“You need to consider the temperament of the dog, the size, the age, the exercise needs, and your own lifestyle and your home environment. If you have limited time for walks and play, and don’t have a fenced yard, you need to steer away from energetic young working dog type breeds who need a lot of exercise to be happy.”
She recommends you can research the characteristics of purebred breeds in books or online.
“If you are adopting a rescue dog (which of course CCHS highly recommends), the shelter personnel can be invaluable in telling you about the temperament of a dog, especially if it has been there for a while. Keep in mind, however, that many dogs are stressed in a crowded shelter environment so don’t reject a shy one too quickly as they usually come out of their shell quickly when they feel safe and secure.”
Don’t overlook an adult dog says Fannin.
“Unless you have a lot of time and patience, you might want to consider an adult dog rather than a puppy. Puppies need training to learn housebreaking and most puppies will be chewers as their teeth come in and vigilance is needed to guide them to appropriate chewing toys.”
For those who do opt for a puppy, crate training is an invaluable tool.
“Crate training is often a good idea to give the puppy a den for relaxing and to insure safety of the puppy when you are gone from the home. Leaving a new puppy or dog loose in your house while you are gone can be a recipe for disaster as the pup may get hurt or hurt some of your belongings,” Fannin said.
She said that the most important aspect of pet adoption is to give the dog a chance to adjust.
“Too many people give up their new dog in the first few days, and sometimes the first few hours, because they don’t understand that any change is traumatic to animals, even a good change such as a wonderful new adoptive home. Often the housebroken dog will have accidents in the beginning in a new place. The normally outgoing dog, may be shy and hesitant at first in a new environment. Be patient and give the dog a chance to relax and become a family member.
And if you have cats, it is a good idea to ask how the dog is around cats if known. And introduce them slowly with restraints on the dog or puppy, to insure the safety of both animals. And if your resident dog tends to be territorial, or the new dog is, again be cautious and introduce slowly. Spay or neuter your new pet as soon as it is old enough as this will also help curb any potential behavior problems.
One trick to introducing dog or dogs, is letting the newcomer meet the resident dogs on neutral ground first, such as a park.
“That lessens the sense of ‘territory’ which the resident dog might feel and can facilitate the dogs accepting each other,” Fannin said.
Co-president of the Coffee County Humane Shelter Sally Berryman stresses the need for patience with a new rescue, adding that the atmosphere of any shelter is stressful to an animal.
Returning the animal only adds to the trauma, making the animal less adoptable.
“It’s very hard to assess a shelter dog’s personality while they’re in the shelter. It’s usually very loud, the shelters are very full.
“If people have other dogs or children, we have no clue if those shelter dogs have been around any of the above.
“If you meet a dog at the shelter and think your falling in love and its’ going to be perfect, the best thing to do is ask one of the animal control guys to bring it out in the parking lot.”
If possible bring other pets and children along to see how the perspective pet will respond to his new family.
Berryman advises that children and pets need special considerations. Many times you don’t know what the animal has been through or how it will react.
She advises children especially to approach the new pet slowly using soft voice and gentile touch.
“Avoid petting around the head at first, because of they have been hit that’s where the blows usually come.”
Berryman said that the love and trust that a pet will give only comes with time.
“The saddest thing is when you have a perfect adoption only to have the animal come back three hours later. That’s not fair and another trauma for the animal to go through,” she said.
She said that reputable purebred breeders will be able to give great advice about their animal’s personality. Shelter dogs are less of a certainty.
“Foster dogs are like foster children. They have been in horrendous situations. They need more time and patience. They will love you unconditionally and show their gratitude more than any store-bought dog.
“Plus you are saving a life and creating a space for another animal,” Berryman said.