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Finding Your Dream Dog

So you're ready to get a dog. Now what? There are 3 main sources to choose from.

Shelters and Rescues

An animal shelter or rescue organization can be a great place to find a dog, especially an adult dog. If possible, choose a rescue that is associated with a national breed club, and ask for references from others who have adopted from the rescue. A good rescue will make sure the animals have basic veterinary care and neutering, and many require a home visit and vet check before they will allow an adoption. They should also provide some paperwork, including a sales contract.

Adopting a rescue dog generally means adopting an adult dog, not a puppy. This can mean a lot of hard work, as he may have behavioral problems that will require time and dedication to resolve. A rescue dog might also have medical problems that necessitate not only special care but also a monetary commitment. However, adult dogs can make wonderful pets because they usually have had all their shots, are past the chewing stage, and are often especially appreciative of a warm and loving family environment.

Pet Stores

Pet stores are another source from which dogs can be obtained. Walking into a pet store and seeing a wide selection of dogs to choose from can be very appealing, and purchasing a dog from a pet store can be very convenient, as pet stores are also one-stop shops for everything you need to raise a happy, healthy dog.

However, be sure to request the same paperwork from a pet store that you would request from a breeder or rescue. And, as with any other source, be sure to look the puppies over carefully for signs of poor health or disease.

Breeders

Breeders are a great option for someone looking to purchase a puppy. The best way to find a breeder is by contacting the secretary of a local breed club and asking for a list of reputable breeders. A good breeder will be a member of the local breed club and should also be able to provide references from previous buyers, colleagues, and veterinarians.

While adopting through a breeder can be costly, there are several benefits. One of the best things about using a breeder is you will often get a chance to see an entire litter of puppies interacting with each other, and also have the opportunity to observe the condition and temperament of their mother. Another benefit of working with a breeder is the paperwork you will be provided with, including a variety of health records and papers stating the puppy's eligibility for entry into the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, Kennel Club, or other registries.

One drawback to adopting from a breeder is that you will probably have to wait a while before you'll be able to bring home a puppy. Breeders usually have long waiting lists, and a good breeder will not release a puppy until he is 8 or 9 weeks old. However, since the puppy will be over 2 months old when he's ready to come home, he will already have had his first set of vaccinations, which is a great bonus, as it is a big part of helping him to be ready for life with his new family.