So, You Want To Adopt A Dog!

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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I volunteer for a German Shepherd Dog rescue in Colorado and  my job is to interview those who submit applications to adopt a dog.  It has been my observation that many want to adopt a rescued dog for wrong reasons. I would summarize those reasons as being selfish in nature.  If you want to teach your child responsibility then teach them before you adopt a dog. If you want a dog for security reasons then buy an alarm system. If you plan to adopt from sympathy, send the dog a sympathy card but leave it for someone who can love the dog for who it is and not what it has gone through. The list goes on and on.  If you are a current pet owner or make money from youir dogs, perhaps now would be a good time to stop reading.  It is not my intent to send you on a guilt trip, but to make you more keenly aware of your responsibilities and the subsequent rewards.   

First and foremost I am not an expert in dog behavior or training.  I am, however, observant and have learned certain things over the years that I believe make me a  good canine pack leader. An example may make the point better. We have a wolf refuge not far from where we live. Several years ago we sponsored a fierce looking black timber wolf named Lucas. Lucas in my opinion was unique and taught me much about animal behavior. Lucas was the undisputed pack leader by consensus  from the rest of the pack. Not because he was the biggest and strongest wolf in the pack but because he loved the pack more than himself. He would discipline others in the pack when needed for bad behavior, or settle disputes.  What made Lucas so unique was that he was appointed leader based on his capacity to love the pack deeper and more profound than any other wolf in the pack. He was not challenged by younger, stronger wolves for his leadership role, and was pack leader up until the day he died. He loved the pack more than himself, and with more depth and breadth than any other wolf could. When he exerted his authority, it was for the good of the entire pack. Lucas was not a bully or a particularly dominant pack leader, as you night think.  Lucas had a well adjusted  balanced pack due to his immense love by putting the pack needs before his own.  

So my point is when you plan to adopt a dog  you really need to evaluate your motives for doing same. Is it because you want to give a rescue dog a good home, provide it the nurturing it needs, be a responsible pack leader,  provide appropriate care, and that you really have no motive but to give that canine the best of what you have to offer? If you adopt for selfish reasons, then you would be better with a goldfish, in my opinion. You only get back what you put into a relationship and the more you give the more your return rewards are multiplied. Are you motivated toward making another life better or your own?  Be honest with yourself as it may be the most profound decision you make.  

The canine you choose to devote your efforts to will reward you in ways that you find hard to believe – but it all depends on whose need you choose to serve. Your canine friend could care less about the size of your home, bank account, your political, sexual, religious persuasion the color of your skin, or numerous other factors. All it wants is a good pack leader who loves it first and consistently  provides for its needs. It will then provide for your needs which you most likely had no idea you even had. It will be your best friend, loyal, devoted and it will not judge you; it will simply love you in ways that defy description. Therefore when it gives you its entire love and is willing to die for you; how do you put a price on that?     

I could write volumes on my observations of canine behavior and my own personal experience.  Thanks really go to those like Lucas who were excellent teachers by example and to those interested enough to pay attention to pack behavior.  When visitors come into our house they invariably comment on the good behavior and dynamics of our pack.  Our pack was formed out of love, nurtured out of  mutual respect and individual need and what we receive in return is so much greater than what we are ever capable of giving – it  just staggers the mind.  So before you adopt, please ask yourself why you want that dog. If it is for selfish reasons, wait until you can adopt for the dogs needs  and not your own. If your needs are so great then go to a service dog adoption where they specialize in dogs to help and assist.  If you want a yard ornament then buy one of plastic or stone.  If you want love and companionship, you need to adopt for the right reasons first. Adopt for the right reason and don’t adopt if the adoption is more about you and not the dog or you don’t have time to devote to the dog.  And if you mess up don’t worry, your dog will forgive you.