Picking A Pup

There are so many dogs in rescue, how do I know which one to pick?

It is a question often asked of us as rescuers. The best answer is to create your “absolute no” list and then let a dog pick you. What is an “absolute no” list? It’s the habits or requirements in a pet that you cannot live with. For example if you are a parent with little ones your “absolute no” will be a dog who is not good with children.  If you have other pets your “absolute no” will be a dog who does not get along with other pets. If you live in an apartment a dog who needs a yard is your “absolute no”.

But there are some things you will want to be more open minded about such as purebred versus mixed breed or age or coat color. Perhaps the best example is my recent experience with adopting a pet so let me share that with you.

I have not had a pet in a while. My last dachshund passed away last year and having taken a new job that required travel, I decided not to adopt a new pet until things slowed down a bit. Once the slow down arrived, and realizing I missed the companionship of a dog, I started out on the pet adoption journey.

I have been working with DARE for 13 years but the truth is I am a huge Chihuahua fan. I just know that I can adopt out dachshund fosters. If I fostered Chihuahuas I could not adopt them out and I’d have my own little chi-herd following me around the house.

I created my “absolute no” list: separation anxiety, requirement for a fenced yard (I live in a townhouse), aggression or biting issues (because I like to take my dog downtown with me to the shops & restaurants).

So I set out looking for a dachshund or chi that was very old and very inactive. I believe the term I used was “decrepit old couch potato”.  That was born partly by my love of the senior dogs and knowing that I work from home each day, upstairs in the loft of my apartment, and I wanted a calmer dog who would not be distressed knowing I was in the house with them, but not able to play with them and focus on them, because I needed to be focused on work.

I checked with DARE and did not find the decrepit old couch potato type I was looking for, so I headed out to petfinder.com and searched for small dogs in my area. I found a local rescue with a Chihuahua mix named Chicklet. She was adorable! Her bio noted she was a senior and good with other dogs and had no special requirements. She was mixed with Chinese Crested and had a Mohawk of coarse hair down her back. I made an appointment to meet her at the rescue location. She was cute beyond words but honestly she just did not pick me. She was s much more interested in the other dog she liked to play with, and I was concerned that she would be bored as an only dog. There were two other dogs there that did take to me, one of which I was told never liked anyone so they were surprised she liked me, but she had multiple applications on hand already (I had read that on their Facebook page) so I told them I’d put some thought into it and get back to them.

Next I saw on Facebook a video of available dogs at my local Animal Services and it featured a 10 year old, solid black Chihuahua that was stated to be 10 years old. He had the biggest ears I’d ever seen and I had already decided I’d call him Batman. I headed to the shelter the next morning and met him, but he was 10 months old not 10 years, and I was concerned he was far too active for a dog that needed to spend the day alone while I worked upstairs. I asked if they had any dachshunds and was told they did not.

On the way home I stopped at another local shelter to see what types of dogs they had. In a cage were five small dogs, two of which were Chihuahua or Chihuahua mix. Chance was the first to come visit with me. We went for a walk. He was a Chihuahua dachshund mix which appealed to me. He was adorable, older, and had the same name as one of my most favorite DARE fosters. I wanted so much for him to be the right match for me. Chance also did not pick me though. I asked to see Bella, a tiny, petrified little tan and white Chihuahua.  We also went for a walk and then returned to the shelter where she literally jumped into my arms when I bent over to take off her leash. She nuzzled up under my chin and wrapped both front paws around my arm that was holding her. Yep, she chose me. I knew she was 18 months old and that was not at all what I had been looking for, but the shelter told me she was very shy, quiet and mellow. It only took 4 hours at home with me for the “real” Bella to come out and she was not shy or mellow! She loves to play fetch and tug of war for hours on end. She also plays what we call “ninja chi” where she stands on her back legs and bats her front paws at my hands as I wave my hands at her paws.

I suppose you might think that makes Bella not a good match for me, but the truth is Bella is absolutely the perfect dog. Though she is 18 months old and quite playful, she is also perfectly content to lay on the sofa while I work upstairs. She goes downtown with me and enjoys having lunch at the pet friendly restaurants. She sleeps under the blankets with me and is already house trained. And she is absolutely not at all what I had in mind when I set out to adopt a new pet. But she is perfect for me in every way.

It is important to know what your “absolute no” list is and to stick to it so that you can have absolute flexibility in other areas to let the right dog for you pick you to be their pack leader. It can take some time and effort but in the end it is so worth it!