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dogRISMEDIA, October 29, 2009—(MCT)-In the market for a dog? It pays to look around in order to find the right dog that fits with your lifestyle. Picking the right dog to bring into your home take planning and work. Here’s a game plan for someone seeking to bring a dog home. 

Think it out
The worst mistake that people make, says Karen Okura, manager of behavior and training at The Anti-Cruelty Society (anticruelty.org), is impulse adoption.

Don’t pick an animal because it reminds you of your old dog, she says, or because you pity the animal, or because you lost your job and need to feel loved, or because the kids want one, or to save a marriage or relationship. 

There are plenty of good reasons to adopt. “The No. 1 objective is to save a life. People don’t realize the number of amazing dogs being euthanized,” says Rochelle Michalek, executive director of PAWS Chicago (pawschicago.org). “Dogs make great companions. They’re great from a social perspective. Nothing breaks the ice like a dog when you’re out meeting people.” Once you have a good reason to adopt, use your head. “People should look at practical things,” Okura says. “Does someone in the home have allergies? How prepared are you to do a minimal amount of grooming?” Also ask yourself: Do you have the time to feed, train and exercise a new dog? Okura figures a puppy needs two years of intensive training; older dogs, a year. Can you afford the financial investment? Even routine medical care isn’t cheap. Does the entire family approve, not just one or two members? Everyone will need to pitch in. Will a new dog get along with other pets in the home? 

If you’re looking at a puppy, know how big it’s going to get. If it’s from a shelter or one of those “free-to-good-home” ads, take your best guess and be prepared for an adult dog that’s 10 to 30 pounds plus or minus that estimate. 

Choosing a breed
Figure out what you want: big, small, male, female, energetic, laid-back, etc. Every factor should be considered. Is there a purebred that appeals to you? Study up and learn more about that breed’s dogs, from how big they get, to their temperament, to how much they shed. Talk to a rescue group that deals in that particular breed. They can tell you a breed’s quirks, and they might even have an animal that would be a good fit. 

If you have no particular breed in mind, consider a mutt. There are a lot more mixed-breed animals needing homes. They also tend to be less prone to breed-specific health problems and they’re also going to cost a lot less, in most cases.

“And their personalities might tend to be a little more diverse,” Michalek says. 

Go for the perfect fit
Don’t rush it. Okura says to do your homework and find the perfect fit. Not an OK fit, not a good fit. The perfect fit. “One of the things I tell people is to be picky. Lots of people feel guilty in a shelter, looking at homeless animals. ‘It’s bigger than I wanted,’ or ‘Look at all this hair.’ We actively advise people who say, ‘He’s just not right’ to keep looking. Because somebody will take the dog you said no to.” 

(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. 

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