I have had animals throughout my life. Primarily cats growing up, then also dogs as a young adult and beyond. I love them all. I have also owned a rabbit, guinea pig, gerbil, and fish, and horses. Very shy as a child, I typically spent much time in the outdoors with the wildlife, examining insects and becoming an avid bird watcher.

We got all of our kittens from the typical sources back then. Sorry to say, cats roamed free when I was a child. Pets were not spayed and neutered. So when a neighbor’s cat would have kittens and our old cat had passed away, we would acquire one of those babies. I have many memories of our cats screeching at the door, proudly presenting us with a decapitated mouse. Wow.

I am happy to see the great turnaround to where animals have now become an integral part of the family. Their existence is respected and held in high regard by most, and their addition to the family is embraced wholeheartedly.

I have many people ask my opinion about where they can adopt a future family member. The problem I encounter repeatedly is that people are often very impatient and impulsive, and they want to make their selection immediately, if not sooner.

My motto with this is “all good things are worth waiting for.” This is my mantra, and one I have lived by. I too am impatient and impulsive on many levels, but I have never been that way with adding a beloved pet. When my adored Cairn Terrier Casey passed away, I was devastated and would visit pet stores just to hold a wiggling little puppy. At that time, I was not established in the community of respected Cairn Terrier breeders, and there were long waiting lists for this wonderful and not-so-common breed. As desperately lonely as I was, I opted to wait. And eight months later, I was invited to meet a new litter of puppies in Philadelphia. Toby chose me, and he brought my mom and I many years of love, joy, and loyal companionship. I feel an inner peace in knowing that mom and Toby are reunited once again.

There are fantastic and highly respected breeders that produce healthy puppies with outstanding dispositions. These breeders are not to be confused with “backyard breeders”, those people who are breeding for profit with no regard for the puppies’ genetics, health, and temperament. And the horror of puppy mills, a “factory” that is created purely for profit, with absolutely no regard whatsoever for the comfort and well being of the dogs in their care. These dogs live their lives in a crate. They receive food and water to sustain them, but there is no handling or exercise. They are treated as a commodity rather than a living and feeling being.
When purchasing a new pet, you never want to do it impulsively. You want the time to be right, and the pet to be one that best meets the needs of you and your family. This is a lifetime commitment, and one that should never be taken lightly. You will be committing to a healthy and happy life for your future charge. Pets require your time and attention. They cost money, and there is work involved in their care, such as training and poop patrol. And there are the rewards: unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship. I recognize and embrace this, every day. Even when Rue chews a beloved magnet I had received as a gift several years ago. Bad mommy for leaving it in his grasp while I ran out to get breakfast.

Over the years, I have acquired many pets, some through wonderful breeders, and many through rescue groups and the local shelter. I admittedly have had positive experiences with most, but not all. A few would not respond to my inquiries. I found that some rescues did not update their website, so the pet you were interested in had been adopted some time ago and was no longer available. One rescue group would not consider me for a puppy because I was working full time. I was admittedly astonished by this requirement that I failed to meet. In the past, my mom had been home for a few of my puppies, but she was physically unable to do much of the care in raising them. All of my puppies were raised while I worked full time, and all grew into wonderful and well adjusted dogs, I am proud to say.

I can understand people’s frustration at some of the criteria. Some applications are invasive in the information they are requiring. I want to stress I understand totally why rescues are strict in their adoption process. They want it to be right. Still, there are no guarantees. And good people who want to rescue a pet are sometimes frustrated by the process and go elsewhere. And that rescue might say that they did not want that person to have one of their pets if they could not abide by their rules.

I have had home inspections and was anxious about that. I live modestly with no frills. But I have a great set up for animals (i.e., living room door opens into sun room, with door leading into yard). Thus I was approved by the rescue volunteers. My home is for the comfort of my pets. I pay the bills.

My message here is to be patient. Do your homework. Talk to family and friends who have gone through this process. Ask for references. Just as the potential adoptees will ask many questions, the adopter is equally entitled to do so. Write questions down beforehand to be better prepared.

When a pet is in rescue, it is typically in a foster home. This is a wonderful advantage because the foster parent can give you much information about the pet’s likes and dislikes, endearing qualities and quirks. Some folks decide that a young adult would be more desirable than a youngster, and there are those special individuals who want to give a forever home to a charming senior pet. All of these options are now available to the future pet parent. Online websites make anything possible, such as my adoption of Rue, who came to me from Oklahoma.

After many conversations with me, and research, my co-worker was able to find a marvelous little puppy that was gifted to her father for Christmas. This wee one will be very loved by the entire family, and I am very happy for them all. Patience and perseverance makes all things possible. Remember, you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. Except in the case of animals. So choose wisely and reap the lifetime of rewards.

Dog bless.