Adopting With an Open Mind

Friday, August 21, 2015
Your vision of the perfect pet may not be the perfect match

man holds dog's pawsThis article was written by Paris Permenter and John Bigley.

Just as we have with all our previous dogs and cats, we knew that adoption was the only way to go for us when we decided to add two dogs to our family. Through shelter adoptions and strays, we’ve lived with and loved a long line of magnificent pets. For most, their only pedigree was the pure love and devotion they gave us.

One of our earlier dogs, though, was a purebred, an Australian Cattle Dog named Alby. She’d arrived at our home one mid-summer day with a poorly healed broken leg. When she passed away, we were certain that we wanted another blue heeler and set out to find one in our area.

Not-so-good fit leads to perfect dog

After searching Petfinder, we found a listing for a one-year-old cattle dog who looked just like our Alby in a shelter about two hours away from our home. We called to make sure they adopted out of the area then jumped in the car and headed down to adopt. We just knew that she was the right dog for us. Until we met her in person.

A bundle of boundless energy that needed an activity level we knew we couldn’t satisfy, this dog was just not the right fit for our family. We finally realized we’d been searching for another dog to replace our Alby and that just wasn’t possible. Although nearly identical in looks, she certainly wasn’t the same dog, and it wasn’t fair to expect her to be.

For the next four hours, we looked at every other dog in the shelter but kept returning to one kennel, to a six-month-old lab and hound mix. Shy but friendly, she clicked with our personalities. Although it appeared that she’d had a rough start in life with some bad scars and demodectic mange, she was perfect. She came home that day with us and we named her Irie, a Jamaican patois word that fittingly means “all’s good.”

Dogs choose you

Six months later, we were ready to adopt a companion for Irie. Again, we started searching online. On our local shelter’s website, we saw a litter of boxer puppies that couldn’t be any cuter so we headed off to check out the eight-week-old pups.

Soon we were the ones being checked out, though, not by the puppies, who were preoccupied climbing all over each other, but by the six-month-old mixed breed dog in the next pen. She leaned against the fence as hard as she could while we played with the neighboring boxer puppies. The puppies didn’t stand a chance. We brought home that mix of mixed breed dogs and named her Tiki.

woman sits with dogHow to be open-minded in your search

Online searches for adoptable pets are a great way to get out and see the wide variety of animals waiting for a home of their own. It pays, though, to keep an open mind as you look at those listings.

Don’t rely too much on the breed(s) that the shelter lists for dogs; shelters do their best but many times those breeds are just a guess. Our Tiki was listed as a border collie mix. When we had seen her listing online, we’d passed it by, deciding that we didn’t want a high-energy border collie. As it turns out, DNA testing later showed that Tiki isn’t a border collie at all but a mix of primarily doberman and poodle, with some sheltie and bulldog thrown into the mix.

And while you might fall in love with a photo of an adoptable dog, as we did when searching for a cattle dog, it pays to wait and learn about the pet’s temperament, energy level, and personality before your heart makes the decision.

Online sites featuring adoptable pets are great tools to help you begin to narrow your adoption criteria (big or little, short-haired or long-haired). The final decision, though, lies in personality. As we found out, you just have to keep an open mind during the search.

As in online dating, online adoption sites get you out there and looking. You might not go home with the one first you see, but the process of searching is educational, fun, and oh, so rewarding when you find your four-legged soul mate.


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