Christine Hibbard, CTC, CPDT
At Companion Animal Solutions, we offer Adoption Counseling for people interested in adding a puppy or dog to their family. I’ve been honored to assist many clients in making their home a forever home for a dog but to be honest, prospective owners don’t avail themselves of this service as often as we would hope. Too often, we get called in to work through behavior problems with dogs that are really just a mismatch between the breed/dog and the owner. It’s not the dog’s fault and it’s not the owner’s fault, it’s just a bad match. This summer though, I was engaged to find puppies for two different families and I’m thrilled at the outcome for these families (and their new puppies)!
Anyone who knows me or is familiar with my work knows that I’m a huge supporter of adopting rescue dogs. I adopted both of my dogs through Aussie Rescue Northwest which is why I am a grateful volunteer for this group of wonderful people. We launched DAWG-O at the Seattle Animal Shelter to help the adopters of rescue dogs have the easiest time adjusting to and having the most fun with their new family member. We’re also working on a volunteer training program for Pasado’s Safe Haven. I have helped many owners find the right rescue dog for them.
I am also a huge believer in supporting reputable breeders (what constitutes a reputable breeder and how to find one are going to be the subjects of future articles here). Since both of my families wanted purebred puppies, the first thing I had to help my families decide was which breed of dog would be best for them. I took many factors into account before making breed recommendations: family compliment (kids, cats), life style (fitness crazed or couch potatoes), grooming requirements, known health problems in various breeds, the original purpose of a breed and many other factors (refer to our previous article Questions to Ask Before Adopting a Dog or Puppy). And let’s face it, how a dog looks is important no matter how much we protest that it doesn’t.
I gently guided my prospective owners towards breeds I thought appropriate for them and explained carefully why a breed they were interested in might not be appropriate for them. I spent hours on the phone and on email getting recommendations to breeders and interviewing breeders. In one case, I drove 90 minutes each way to visit a breeder in person, meet the parents of the puppies and inspect the breeder’s facility. It was all worth it! One of my families brought their puppy home several weeks ago and are thrilled with their choice (getting those email updates are the highlight of my day) and my other family is bringing their puppy home this week. I can rest easy because I know I’ve set these owners and their puppies up for success.