There she was, staring back at me from the Facebook page of Animal Rescue of the Rockies. A sad, skinny, bedraggled pit bull. It was love at first sight.
I waited 37 years to adopt a dog; a decision I did not enter into lightly. During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, animal rescues and shelters across the country emptied out, dog shortages ensued and people rejoiced. Finally, animals were getting adopted in record numbers. But sadly, those same facilities saw a majority of animals returned once everyone started to migrate back to work. As an animal communicator, I have heard countless sad stories of pet heartbreak after being relinquished. It doesn’t have to happen.
Adopting a dog should be a forever thing. Here are some important things to consider if you want a dog, so that you can ensure a long and happy life together:
1. Don’t adopt unless you are willing to be with that animal till the end. Certainly life can get in the way, but never adopt unless you’re all in on the responsibility of caring for sentient beings.
2. Take a hard look at your finances. Can you afford food, vet bills, boarding? Turns out my dear Daisy has lower g.i. issues, and can only tolerate a special, very expensive food. The second month I had her, she incurred a $700 vet bill. My initial reasonable adoption fee was soon dwarfed by other expenses. But I was prepared.
3. Invest in pet insurance immediately upon adoption. The monthly payment will be nothing compared to a vet bill. Hefty vet bills are a certainty.
4. If a puppy joins your household, do you have the time to train her? Puppies are a lot of work, and require great patience. I know me and opted for an older dog.
5. Speaking of time, do you have the time to walk your dog and socialize it with other dogs and people? At least an hour per day of exercise does wonders for your dog’s temperament. I waited to adopt as long as I did because I worked 40+ hours a week. I can now devote more time to a dog.
6. Doggy day care is another expense to consider if you decide to adopt while you have a job.
7. Are you willing to work with your rescue to overcome any triggers and bad behavior? Just like people, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Work with a dog is constant.
8. When adopting, remember the Rule of Three: generally, it takes three days for a dog to relax in your home, three weeks to learn your schedule and three months to feel like it’s home. Daisy didn’t really settle in for 11 months.
Adopting Daisy was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I saved a life and she saved me. There are a lot of dogs that need a home; hopefully, with careful planning, one can be yours!
Kristine Disney lives in Wheat Ridge and is a local animal advocate.