Getting a puppy, dog, cat, or even a goldfish is a huge responsibility.
I feel this is one of the pages which are the most important. These are some of the basic things to think about.
Please DO NOT get a puppy, or a dog (or even a gold fish) if you are not committed to the new friend for their whole life. There are expenses, and large time commitments required to have a healthy, happy, well trained furry best friend. I can't imagine living without several, but I know people who are unable to be responsible for even a plant. Dogs may not be furry children but they are just as dependent on your love and care. They also get just as attached and become very depressed when their family abandons them to an unknown fate. They are not an old couch to be replaced when the colors don't match the new paint, or its too hard for them to go up the stairs to a new apartment. Plan ahead, think ahead.
Do your research! I am happy to email, or talk on the phone if you have questions. I apologize if I can be hard to get ahold of sometimes.
Dogs come in different sizes, shedding varies, they have different exercise requirements, need different amounts of grooming, eat tiny to huge amounts of food may, or may not be hypo-allergenic. They have different reactions to strangers, both with breed and with training.
They ALL need nail trims, brushing, baths, dental care, heartworm preventative, vaccinations, (well at least in most parts of the world) and to see a veterinarian at least once a year for a check up. As they age they may need more check-ups, bloodwork done, more frequent dental cleanings, and medications if they have developed any health problems.
If you just LOVE puppies, but haven't really thought about the puppy growing up, or if you are really not sure a pet is right for you please call your local shelter, and/or search on Facebook for rescue groups in your area. You can start by volunteering to walk, or clean up after the dogs and/or cats. If you enjoy it then offer to foster a pet until they get adopted. Foster failure may happen. It is when you fall in love with your foster pet and adopt them yourself. A terrific thing, although foster homes are always needed so only bad that a new pet needing foster may not have place to go. Even if you have a pet you may still want to foster!
You can also talk to neighbors, family, and/or friends and see about dog-sitting, or walking their dog.
If your in an apartment, place a note on the bulletin board and see if anyone is needing a dog walker, or dog sitter. I feel many dogs spend too much time alone and there are many families who would love to "share" a dog. If I was an innovative organized person I would write up some contracts and protocols and get them to apartments for families to work out dog sharing agreements. Or even get the apartment complexes themselves to have a couple dogs people can "borrow". How terrific would that be for those who really only want a once a week dog petting/walking time?! It's great therapy! They have pools, fitness centers, and all kinds of things, why not some resident dogs and cats? Feel free to steal my idea. I would love more furry friends and people having a better life!
Rescue groups also help transport dogs. Maybe a few hours of dog companionship is all you really have time for. They love people to volunteer help drive a couple hours to do a "leg" on a coordinated transport. Kindred Hearts is one of the bigger groups, Pilots for Paws volunteer to fly pets, and sometimes need ground drivers between overnight fosters and the pilots. There are many ways to interact, get some doggie love and help all at the same time!
We often critter sit for overnights, or even a couple weeks as the dogs and/or cats are in route from whatever horrible past led them to be at a dog pound/animal control ("shelter" used more often is a poor name for a place that kills unwanted pets by the thousands) to the rescue group who has committed to take them and find them a home, states away.
We also do rescue, but with my mom and aunts situation we help more with critter sitting short term those on transport instead of taking in as many new rescued dogs ourselves. We have about 10 rescued now waiting for homes and they have all been waiting over a year (number changes as some get adopted and others arrive.) Please email if interested. This last year (2016) has been strange. We had someone need to place an aged cavalier, we found two goldendoodles on the road in terrible shape, and our neighbors gave us 8 little dogs that were in desperate need of attention and vet care. We must be a doggie magnet. We couldn't have been more lucky they were all breeds easy to find terrific homes for. They all needed vet care, 2 of them needed extensive vet care and surgery. But they fell in our lap and we love dogs, so we muddle through all the work and expenses, happy to be able to help and see them bloom, and even more happy when a great family falls in love and adopts!
It is a HUGE OLD WIVES TAIL that you must have a puppy to have it bond well with your family! Even very old pets will bond. It is true the older pets have a personality and may have quirks that are perfect for your family, or they may not be. There is a perfect rescue dog out there for everyone. It can be harder to find the right match in an adult, but ALL dogs learn new tricks, and adapt much faster then us humans could ever hope too!!