I have been involved in animal rescue for more than 12 years now, and I am still amazed at the number of people who select their match based on looks rather than personality.
Remember that when you adopt an animal, you are making a commitment for the next 10 to 15 years or more — and choosing a dog that fits your family is far more important than getting the dog you think is cute.
Still, it seems that people consistently are looking for a dog that is a certain size, colour or coat type — and often with misconceptions about why that matters.
Not all small dogs are suitable for apartments, and some need quite a lot of exercise. Some larger breed dogs have a tendency to roam and are really not well suited to being loose on a farm or acreage.
As a matter of fact, some dogs with very long hair are on the low dander list, and some dogs with short coats are very heavy shedders!
There are a lot of misconceptions about what things should be considered when you get a dog.
Some believe puppyhood is the only way to go, not realizing the amount of growing, changing and developing a dog does during those first couple of years. The truth is, dogs over the age of three are usually nicely settled into their personality and show their true colours.
There are a number of things that seem to impact decisions when choosing a pet, but so many people overlook the characteristics and traits that should matter most.
If you are planning to adopt a dog, take a few minutes to think about that pet’s compatibility with you. While your little girl might dream of a little white fluffy dog, she may find a best friend in a big black dog.
When you are seeking a dog, consider your lifestyle and who is in it.
If you have children, a dog with a proven temperament with kids might be a priority. If you have a busy household, a dog that is comfortable with activity and commotion might be of value to you. If you travel frequently, a dog that is comfortable in the car might be important to you.
Consider your personality too. If you are a person who prefers your space, a "velcro" dog that tends to need more attention might not be the best pick for you. If you entertain often, a dog that is outgoing may work better for you. If you prefer to curl up quietly with a good book, a dog that is calm and cuddly might be the right fit.
It’s also important to consider other pets in your household. Some dogs don’t like cats, and some cats do not like dogs. Some older pets are tolerant and patient with puppies, while others would find a busy baby a stressful addition. Some dogs are happiest with a companion that they can roll and tumble with, while others simply enjoy quieter company.
If you are thinking about adding a pet to your household, try to put aside any preconceived notions about what you need and look for a pet that is compatible with your lifestyle, your family and your personality.
The right pet for you may not be what you pictured or expected — but it may be the perfect pet for you.
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 28, 2013