Pet adoption vs buying one: which is right for you?

Direct from the breeder and documented

Some dog lovers are like art lovers or rose growers, they are interested in things like pedigree and aesthetics. Like an antiques’ buff, they want to know the provenance: where this came from and what they can reasonably expect. And there is nothing wrong with that. If you appreciate the finer things in life and want your pet to contribute to the way you are perceived by others, by all means, pay a breeder for an animal that will be admired for its beauty or rarity.

Even if you’re not doing this for reasons of sophistication, buying from a breeder comes with certain advantages. Reputable breeders do what they do because it’s their passion, and they will have looked after the dog well in the short time before you came along. That means a good diet, exercise, vaccinations and all the other malarkey that is soon to be your responsibility.

The dog will also have been given some basic training, which means less for you to do yourself or pay someone else to do.

Beware the unscrupulous breeder

The breeders described above are in it for the right reasons, but there are also those who treat it purely as a business and may not have lavished their young charges with affection, seeing them merely as a certain number of dollars each and determined to keep the costs down until the sale happens. These unscrupulous people are, thankfully, quite rare, but they do exist. If you buy from a reputable breeder, you can make life less profitable for the cowboys.

Adopted and mysterious

If you don’t go through a breeder, you may go to an animal shelter, where the dogs have ended up because they were abandoned, taken in because the owner was unable to look after them or found roaming the streets. In any case, these dogs may have anxiety issues, because one way or another they have been rejected and, as kind and caring as the shelter staff might be, the animal has been removed from where it once had a home – unless it is a street dog, in which case it has never had a home.

They will probably have had little or no training, no steady course of vaccinations and may have health problems.

The unfortunate circumstances your dog may have endured could be part of the appeal for you, because you will be giving it a good life which it might not have had if it hadn’t been for you. That is all well and good, but there could be surprises in store for you. Dogs don’t naturally understand that they have to go outside to do their toilet business, so you will have to get that instilled in them sharpish. And a quiet talk isn’t going to do it, so you might have to lay down the law in a way you’re not naturally inclined to. There is plenty of information around on how to train dogs, but at the end of the day, you are the one who is going to be doing it.

What if it just turns up on your doorstep?

When someone’s bitch has a litter they don’t want, they have a number of choices and here are two of them: put the word around and try to find people to take the pups on, or dump them. If the first course of action fails, an irresponsible – even if well-meaning – owner may quietly take each puppy to a house where they can leave them and hope they get taken into the fold, and because puppies are nervous, the householder may open the back door one morning and find this little thing the size of a cuddly toy, hiding behind a box or the shed. And as cute as anything you’ve ever seen. It is in many people’s nature to immediately put down a bit of food or some water, and an attachment soon forms between dog and human.

This has happened with great success in many cases but, just like bringing one home from the pound, you won’t really know what you’ve got yourself into until their characteristics appear over the months and years. You may not even know how big they are going to be, and while it might be nice to think of the kids taking the dog for a walk, if it turns out to be a hulking great Labrador or a huge Doberman cross, the children are not going to be able to handle it.

Remember the old adage: a dog is for life, not just for Christmas

Wherever you get your dog from, it is vitally important that their first day with you is the start of a long period of safety and stability. A dog can make a home happier and a home can definitely make a dog happy. Just make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for and are willing and able to keep your side of the bargain.

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