Should We Get a Dog Right Now?

adopting dog grand rapids

We’re Stuck at Home. Now is a Perfect Time to Get a Dog, Right?

With everyone home for weeks on end, it seems like the perfect time for an adorable distraction. Plus, there would be so much time for training…

Gus and Bing Puppy Love

The Kids Have Been Asking For a Dog For a Long Time.

We’ve been thinking about getting a new dog ever since our beloved Sadie passed away a few years ago. At first, I wasn’t ready to get a new dog because it was too soon. And then, “too soon” morphed into “our lives are too busy for a dog.” Years went by.

The kids are older now and they truly want another dog, though. They regularly beg for a dog and “puppy” shows up on every birthday list (to be fair, “pony” was on the list for a few years and I never gave in to that one.)

I just have to be real with myself about what getting a dog right now would mean for us to determine if we really are ready for one.

Scripps golden retriever puppy dog

A Look at the PROS for Getting a Dog Right Now

We have time for training: Now that our big kids are home for several weeks, and my husband and I are working from home, we could easily focus on puppy training right now.

I work from home regularly: Working from home is my norm, so once school resumes I’ll be here for doggo and I know what it means to own a pet for the long haul.

Pet therapy: Not only would a puppy be a lovable, furry distraction – it would help my kids cope with the world in a way I can’t. We live with sensory issues in our household and I’m pretty sure a dog would find a special place in our hearts.

Bing puppy in grass

Reasons to Say NO to Getting a Dog

But just because it sounds like a good idea, and even though I have all of the right reasons, it still doesn’t mean that it’s time to run out and get a puppy. 

My dog-loving friend April (she’s the editor of this website) came up with this test for me (and others) to make sure we’re really ready for a dog. She’s really concerned that people will get dogs now and not be in it for the long run. Ready for the Quiz?

Here goes:

If you can say yes to the following, you may be in the minority of families who are READY for a fluffball of love this spring.

1 – You already have (or had) pets and know the responsibility. 

2 – The only thing holding you back from getting a puppy was a few weeks at home to train and acclimate a puppy. 

3 – You already know who could watch your dog when you go on vacation. 

4 – You can afford the vet, food, treats and toy bills. (Because there will be toys!) 

5 – You are not overwhelmed by your current responsibilities during the shutdown. 

I love dogs but know that this would not be a wise time for my family to get a new pet. I’m trying to balance work and kids at home, thinking about my family members who may be at risk, figuring out my daughter’s birthday during quarantine, and more. I have enough on my plate.  ~April

If you passed the quiz, read on.

I am sure I could handle all of the above. My husband, on the other hand, is still not convinced. (Kids are working on him, but we’ll see if they can get him on board!)

bing puppy and kids happy

 

Pause: What About Fostering?

One option that didn’t immediately occur to me was fostering a puppy or dog. Maybe, instead of signing up for a lifetime of pet ownership, we should foster to get our dose of puppy love.

Side note: All of my friends that have fostered think we’ll “foster fail” but that sounds like the best kind of failure to me – a failure that ends up in adopting a whole new companion.

Fostering requires an application process. Local places with foster programs include the Humane Society of West Michigan, Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue, and Michele’s Rescue.

Smith puppy dog

 

Where can I Find a Puppy Right Now?

There are 3 Main Choices for Adopting a Dog in West Michigan, and Many are Limited Right Now Due to the Shutdown

We’re thinking hard about where we’ll get a puppy if we decide to pull the trigger. Shelters are full because there are animals out there that people couldn’t take care of for whatever reason and we don’t want to add to the problem.

Adopting a pet is usually a long process, whether you go through a breeder, shelter or foster organization. A responsible dog breeder or rescuer will have an application process, and often even home visits. 

But even if you don’t bring your new family member home during the shutdown, searching for and starting the application process for one is a good distraction right now. 

Here are the three common ways people adopt dogs in West Michigan, and what these options look like during the shutdown.

Parson Russell Terrier puppy dog Hunt

We could go for a Purebred from a Reputable Breeder

Our last dog was a Golden Retriever and she was the sweetest dog ever. Good dogs come from good homes – if we go for an AKC dog, we’ll check to see we’re working with a responsible breeder.

April tells me that most reputable breeders will offer to take the dog back if it doesn’t work out (no money back, but they care about their animals and want them in forever homes). Breeders should be knowledgeable about the character traits of their dogs and ask that you will be able to accommodate the specific needs of that breed.

Some will participate in programs like the AKC’s Bred With H.E.A.R.T. Program. If the breeder doesn’t even ask where you live or what kind of accommodations you have for a dog, that’s a red flag.

Breeders don’t sell dogs on a moment’s notice. Responsible, reputable breeders often don’t have puppies available until months or weeks out. Litters are often spoken for before the mother has even given birth. And then you have to wait at least 10 weeks before the pup can come home. 

But sometimes, you may just find that golden puppy who hasn’t been claimed yet! Also, a breeder may occasionally have an older dog that’s looking for a home.

We Could Rescue a Dog From an Animal Shelter

Note: Many shelters are either closed or doing no-contact adoptions right now. The Humane Society of West Michigan has just started doing no contact adoptions. They outline how these work on their Facebook page:

humane society no contact adoptions

 

Step ONE: To get started, visit their website and view adoptable animals. Due to the virtual nature of these adoptions, please pick only a few animals that catch your interest and apply via the online application. After applying, email them at [email protected] to schedule a virtual meet & greet!

Step TWO: In the virtual meet & greet, staff and/or foster families will introduce you to the animal and answer and questions you have. All information about the animal will be shared at this time. You will then have the opportunity to adopt!

Step THREE: All adoptions can be done over the phone. Payment and contracts can be completed from home via an internet-enabled smart phone. Once all paperwork is completed, they will schedule a time for you to pick up your new companion!

Step FOUR: Pickup will be contact-free, with important documents being sent electronically when available. Head home with your new family member and enjoy your new life together!

Kent County Animal Shelter isn’t offering public adoptions at the moment, but they are accepting foster families for their current shelter pets. Sometimes foster families opt to adopt the dog they are fostering. Other times they can find a match for that dog through friends and family (while practicing safe social distancing). You can look for KCAS pets through Petfinder. This link, on the KCAS website, shows you the KCAS dogs on Petfinder.

We Could Adopt a Dog from a Foster Organization

Local, out-of-home foster organizations are still in business – sort of. 

Foster volunteers are passionate about the dogs they care for, and are strict about who adopts dogs. Foster volunteers want to be sure that you are the right family for this dog; they ardently seek permanent homes for their fosters. 

Because of this, many have a serious vetting process that includes home visits, which you can’t really do during a shutdown. Some are finding ways around this, by doing FaceTime calls with prospective families or meeting in a dog park with super long leads on the dogs. 

They also require that these pets are spayed or neutered before being rehomed, and that’s not an option during the shutdown. This has put a big pause on many of their adoptions, but it doesn’t mean that you still can’t look at the adorable pets that they have available and see if someone captures your heart

Here are some of our favorite foster dog organizations. They all have different situations during the shutdown, so check their Facebook pages for up-to-date info before reaching out to them. 

Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue

Homeward Bound

Luvnpupz

Michele’s Rescue

Mosh Pit Rescue

Pet Tales Rescue

Vicky’s Pet Connection

After all of this, we’re still undecided. We don’t take this decision lightly and we hope that you won’t either. We’ll let you know if and when we add a furbaby to our home. For now, I’ll smile at all these pics of my friends’ adorable puppies and enjoy not having to clean up any puppy messes in my house!

Last thoughts:

If you’re considering a new pet now, it’s time to do some soul searching. Please do not get a pet now just as momentary entertainment. Pet ownership could be overwhelming when regular life resumes.  The last thing anyone wants is to have family members return to work and school, leaving a scenario where the pet is ignored or given up.

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