Adopting a pet can be an emotional time, so I thought I would give you some pointers in an effort to make the experience easier on you! I have four rescue animals - two dogs and two cats. My two cats were fairly simple to adopt. I found a local cat rescue group, followed them on Facebook, and then waited until I saw them post a kitty I liked. I was lucky enough to adopt both cats that I placed an application on (there was about a year between the first and second cat). Adopting a dog, however, was not as simple. The application process is more in-depth, and there are usually a lot of applicants. Before I get to the list of tips, let me give you a backstory on how I adopted my two dogs, Stella and Maggie.
When I first went to see Stella (who was then named "June"), we had our little meet and greet and it was great. I told them I wanted to fill out an application and have my boyfriend come meet her. But there was a problem - they had accidentally let me see her even though a family had put in an adoption application on her. They took down my information and said they would call me if anything changed. And guess what... it did! Unfortunately for the family, their dog did not like Stella one bit. They ended up returning her to the rescue organization. Warren and I immediately ran over and filled out the application for her. A week later, she came home.
A few years after adopting Stella, we went to see a Jack Russell Terrier who was up for adoption. Getting a second dog was something we really had to think about, so we went home to discuss it (a.k.a. we went home and I begged Warren for a second dog). By the time we went back to see her, another family was outside having their meet and greet with her. They ended up applying to adopt her. I was so devastated. But I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and I tried to remain positive. A few weeks later, a friend showed me a picture of Maggie. We ended up adopting her just before Halloween, and she couldn't have been a more perfect addition to our family. So please remember, that even though the adoption process can be tough and, at times emotionally draining, hang in there because you will eventually find your doggy soulmate.
Ok, let's get to the tips!
1. Find All Available Rescues and Constantly Check Them
First things first, find all available places where you can adopt a dog from. Places like your local animal shelter, all local rescue groups who have dogs, and online rescue websites. My favourite sites to look for dogs are Petfinder and Adopt a Pet. I'm somehow always looking for adoptable dogs for people, and these are the ones I use, as you can type in specific breeds, locations, and ages.
Once you have located all of the places you will be checking, go on their websites daily. This may seem excessive, but if a dog is listed that you love, you want to be the first to know! Also, pop into your local humane society as often as possible. Newer dogs may not be online yet, and this will give you the first look.
2. Be Patient
You're on a journey to find a furry companion - it may take a while! If you aren't able to find a dog, or it's not working out at first, just hang in there. You will eventually find a dog that makes it all worthwhile. Adopting versus buying from a breeder can be a bit more challenging, but you will end up feeling so great you were able to help out a dog in need.
3. Be Flexible with Age and Breed
In an effort to speed up the adoption process, try to be open to different breeds. As well, keep in mind that it is unlikely you will be able to get a puppy. While it's not impossible, puppies are in high demand, so there will be a ton of people applying for them.
Understandably, you may be set on getting a certain breed of dog. It's definitely possible, but just know that you may have to wait a bit longer, or travel a bit further to pick him or her up. There are a ton of organizations out there who are dedicated to rescuing certain breeds, so try Googling the dog breed, followed by the word, "rescue." Considering the high cost of purebred dogs from breeders, use the money you will be saving and put it towards a road trip to go pick up your dog.
4. Go to Adopt-A-Thons
Most local animal rescue groups have adopt-a-thons where they will bring all of their available dogs to a pet store or event. These are a great way to meet many dogs at once, and to get to know the organization. They may be more likely to accept your application if they have personally met you, than if you just applied online. You might even be able to meet the foster person they are staying with, and gather some more information about the dog.
This one is more of a commitment, but it's a great way to "test drive" different dogs and see how they are in your home. Fostering is a great experience, and also a great way to find a new pet. Since you will typically have a foster dog for a month or so, you will be able to get to know him or her. You will also usually have first choice at adopting the dog, which will alleviate some stress. Not having to worry about being one of many different applicants will make the process so much smoother.
Hopefully you learned something useful! I wish you the best of luck if you are currently in the process of finding a dog to adopt. If you have any questions at all, please reach out to me. I'd love to help!