Questions To Ask When Adopting A Dog

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Oh lord, y’all, what was I thinking? How did I get myself into this? It all started as a normal pandemic era day…

How It Started

questions to ask when adopting a pet

The sweet girl we met today.

I was sitting on the couch after work and for some reason I had the urge to check the Austin Pets Alive website and look at puppies available for adoption. APA is a great organization helping keep Austin a no-kill city. They take in tons of animals and get them squared away and ready for adoption . Although I’ve never had a dog, I’m a believer in rescue organization’s pets since there are so many animals out there who need to go to a good home.

On this particular website visit, I noticed there was a quiz you can take to match you with shelter pups who share the same ideals, beliefs and favorite tv shows as you. The last thing you want is to adopt a dog who isn’t up to speed on what’s happening on Grey’s anatomy, or worse, is an anti-vaxxer. So, you fill out this thing about how many kids are in the home, how often you will be home with the pet, whether you have a yard, etc. I presume this helps ensure dogs aren’t sent to homes that aren’t a good match for the dog’s behavior. They also consider the dog’s energy level, previous owner/home environment, and how many family members will be around.

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When I got 7 potential pet results from the quiz, I was underwhelmed. I had specifically noted we needed a puppy who would be a small dog. I realize there are tons of older dogs who need homes, but I have a very dog averse kiddo who needs to be eased into it with a very small and non threatening pup. Also, since I was the victim of a nasty adult dog attack years ago, I am very uncomfortable around big dogs and still occasionally have nightmares about them. I should probably unpack that with a professional at some point, but who has time for that, amirite?

The 7 results included medium sized dogs and none grabbed me, except one. There was this tiny black lab mix, only 2 months old and living in foster. At 8 weeks she only weighed 1 pound, indicating she would likely not be a very big dog.

To donate to Austin Pets Alive, click HERE to help shelter staff turn animal rescues into adoptable pets.

On a whim, and not thinking much of what I was doing, I took the first step and  filled out the query form. I was kinda thinking they would say “hey lady small dogs and pups go fast, this one is long gone” but nope. Instead, I got a form email back saying the foster would reach out, but not to get too attached to the idea because dogs are on a first come/first served basis and you can’t apply to adopt until after you have had a 30 minute meet and greet. At that point, I figured she’d be scooped up and it probably wasn’t meant to be.

Imagine my surprise when I got a text from the foster family within an hour saying we could meet her the next day (today)! As it happens, the foster had only had them 2 weeks, but because of her work schedule she had been unable to meet potential adopter families in spite of a bevy of queries. Yay for us!

Did I mention I hadn’t told my husband yet?

How It Happened

After my husband returned from the battlefield that is bedtime, I started with “So I went rogue today.” At first, he was like we can’t have a puppy right now. Then, I showed him a photo. He went from “we can’t have a puppy” to “ok so how would this work?”.

This morning, we broke the news to our kiddo. He was super stoked and couldn’t wait to go meet the pup. We set his expectations low, explaining that she couldn’t come home with us today and that we may want her but others may have already applied to adopt her and we would have to wait for another opportunity. He was cool, but I could tell he was out of his mind excited.

As it turned out, there were two puppies, a brother and sister. Originally there had been 10, but by the time APA rescued these babies from down by the border, only 3 survived. They had medical conditions and required IV meds, and this wonderful lady nursed them back to health. When we told her we needed a calm dog for our son, she recommended the girl, as the boy is larger and more high energy. I picked up the 1.5 pound cutie and I was in love. She was so sweet and calm, just kinda watching the world and waiting to see what was going on.

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Unfortunately, when we had walked into the foster’s home, all of her other dogs were barking and making a fuss. She had kindly put them away before we went in, but my son heard the barks and was terrified. I’m surprised he didn’t go back to the car. So, already uneasy and constantly looking over his shoulder for the other dogs, he didn’t want much to do with the pup. He wouldn’t even come near her to pet her. I was mentally calculating if I could afford a second home so I could live with my new pup and visit my kid on the weekends. Not with these prices!

I asked the foster specific questions about the care of the dog, whether she was in good health (she is!), how she does with young children (great!), the dog’s energy level (chill), about the adoption process and adoption fees ($250) , and several of the questions below.

After spending as much time snuggling my new bff as possible, I put her back and went outside to meet my husband and son who had decided to wait away from the barks. In a burst of bravery, my guy asked to meet the dog, and, once outside and away from the fear of the other dogs, he did fine and even petted her and let her sniff his hand. He was rewarded with tail wags!

Prior to our arrival, I researched rescue dog adoption and made a list of important questions because the goal is to find the right dog for your whole family. The following ‘questions to ask when adopting a dog’ are a good starting point and cover a lot of the basics.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Will this dog be a good fit with my family?
  • Are we ready for a new pet?
  • Is this really a good idea right now or am I acting impulsively?
  • Will this dog be the right fit if we were to have a new family member down the line? (new baby, aging parents)
  • Can I spend a lot of time with the dog?
  • Is the dog’s personality conducive to other pets in the home?
  • Is this the perfect match or just the cutest or most convenient match?
  • Am I and my family ready for such a big commitment?
  • Are we financially prepared if the dog has health issues?
  • Am I and my family prepared for all of the time and responsibility of dog ownership?
  • Is this the right time?

Questions to ask when adopting a dog:

  • What is the dog’s history?
  • Can I take him/her for a trial period to see if they are a good fit?
  • Has this dog exhibited behavioral issues?
  • Why did the former owners surrender this dog?
  • Is this dog good with small children?
  • How does this particular dog deal with new people?
  • Do you think he/she will be able to adapt to a new environment?
  • What is the current state of the dog’s health?
  • Has this dog had all vaccinations?
  • Will this dog require long walks every day?
  • Was he/she a stray dog?
  • Do you provide adoption counselors?
  • Especially if it is a senior dog, what is the dog’s medical history?
  • Has this dog been in a foster home?
  • How does this dog need to be cared for on a daily basis?
  • Are there special needs?
  • Has this dog been spayed/neutered?
  • How would you characterize the dog’s energy level?
  • What is the adoption process?
  • What are the adoption fees and are they refundable if this doesn’t work out?
  • Has this dog ever bitten anyone or shown undue aggression?
  • What other questions should I be asking you?

How It’s Going

The tail wags were the nail in my coffin. There was no turning back now. My hubs and kid were smitten, and so was I. We texted the foster on the way home saying we were ready to adopt. The reality of what we have gotten ourselves into is only slightly easier knowing this isn’t about the inconvenience it will cause us, but the happiness of a little boy and a puppy who needs a home. In other words, we are suckers, but we made the right decision.

So, very soon we will hopefully have good news and be able to add this little girl to our family. As a first time potential dog Mom I am filled with anxiety, but my husband has had many dogs, and our friends are long time dog parents. I will be peppering them with my list of questions constantly.

Now, if only we could agree on a name!

If you’re a dog parent and have any helpful tips about dog behavior, behavioral problems, training classes, separation anxiety or going to the dog park, please let me know in the comments or on social!

As always, buy adopt something someone who makes you feel fabulous (and give them lots of love and snuggles)!


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