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It's A Dog's Life - Ask Milo

By Mary Cody

Where Should You Go To Get A Dog?



So far we've discussed the criteria to determine if owning a dog is right for you. We've suggested picking a dog to reflect your lifestyle and personality and explored the seven classification categories of dogs.

If you are confident you're ready to bring a dog into your life, have a fairly good idea of the type/age of dog best suited to your lifestyle/ household and have a few breeds in mind, it's time to think about where to go to get your dog.

The best place to find a purebred dog is a REPUTABLE breeder. A reputable breeder takes pride in carefully developing, over many generations, the desired characteristics of a particular breed. They don't just randomly take a couple of good looking dogs and put them together with the idea that nature will sort it all out. The parent dogs are carefully selected and serious forethought is given to increase the chances of producing a healthy, disease-free litter.

Reputable breeders know their breed and do not give you evasive answers. They welcome questions, will also ask you questions and will continue their relationship with you for a reasonable amount of time after cashing your check. Some breeders may even check you out more thoroughly than you check them out!

A reputable breeder will let you see the parents of the puppies and the facility where the dogs are housed.

The reputable breeder will test their pups for potential problems often found in that particular breed. A condition called hip-dysplasia can be a problem in some large breed dogs and there's the potential for hearing or eye problems in some small breeds. Ask the breeder if they pre-test their pups for these conditions. A reputable breeder will answer yes. In addition the reputable breeder will most likely have had the pups vaccinated and will offer a health guarantee of some sort.

How do you find a reputable breeder? Ask around. If you see someone with a dog you admire inquire where the dog was purchased and if they would recommend that breeder. Go to a dog show or sporting event and learn about some of the supporting organizations for the breed you have in mind. Talk to your veterinarian (you have lined one up haven't you?! ). Contact the American Kennel Club. Get a list of breeders. Make appointments to visit a few in your area.

How much is that puppy in the window? CONSUMER BEWARE of puppies offered for sale in malls and pet shops. Unless you know the owner of the shop and have confidence in the source of their puppy supply it is unwise to purchase from these sources. Far too many of these puppies are conceived in what is known as a Puppy Mill. If the shop owner can not satisfactorily answer your questions walk away fast.

I'll spare you the grim details and will summarize the Puppy Mill scenario by saying the parents of these pups are victims of unscrupulous people. They are used and abused for profit condemned to living in filth, deprived of veterinary care and humane treatment. Their offspring are the disastrous result of careless breeding.

Many of these little critters are taken from their parents between the age of 4-6 weeks which is far too young and puts the pup at risk for health problems and your wallet at risk to save the dog. Eight weeks should be the minimum age a pup is separated for at least two reasons. The pup needs this time to socialize and learn to be a dog and, to reap the benefit of strengthening its immune system.

Have you noticed that the big pet supply houses like NJ PETS and PETCO and even some of the smaller mom and pop pet shops do not sell puppies/dogs and kittens/cats. Instead they invite area animal shelters or rescue organization to hold weekend pet adoptions when a variety of wonderful pets can be seen. If you're out shopping and see a sign that says "Pet Adoption Today" it means an organization like Orphaned Pets, PAWS, People for Animals or the Homeless Animal Adoption League (to name a few) are there devoting their time to help some of these displaced animals find loving homes. You may be surprised to learn that at least 25% of dogs abandoned to shelters are purebred dogs.

Remember, a dog doesn't have to be a purebred to make a great pet and companion. There are some marvelous mixes waiting for your love.

Believe it or not, the Internet has become another excellent source for finding a dog that's right for you. One reputable source for locating dogs is www.petfinder.com. This is a national web site devoted to linking animals with people. At this site you'll find shelters, rescue organizations and private individuals all with available pets for adoption in every state across the nation. You can easily narrow your search to any one state by entering a zip code. There's also a special Post-A-Pet feature that serves as a message board for people to either specify the particular pet they're seeking or to list a pet in need of a home.

Next issue I'll reveal some local resources to help you with training, bathing/grooming, Internet info sites and just about anything else you would want to know about your dog. If you have questions you can e-mail them to: askmilo2000@yahoo.com. All for now. It's time to take Milo for a walk and enjoy his town, Montclair.

Copyright Mary Cody. All rights reserved.

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