So you made the decision to get pet – great! Now what? The next step used to be simply asking “How much is that doggy in the window?” but these days we know there is a lot more to think about.
According to the Human Society of the United States, in the 1970s there were 67 million pets in US homes and 12-20 million dogs and cats euthanized annually. Thanks to public education, successful spay/neuter campaigns, growing shelter/rescue efforts and new legislation, the annual percentage of euthanized dogs/cats has plummeted from 25% to 3% of the total pet population. Despite these amazing results, with over 135 million cats and dogs in homes, it means nearly 3 million animals are euthanized annually.
If everyone adopted and spayed/neutered their pet we could solve the problem of pet overpopulation decisively. However we would then have an even bigger problem. If every pet is spayed/neutered that means no more pets! We have pets in the first place because of domestication/breeding, and ethical/sustainable breeding is vital to ensure future generations can enjoy the companionship of pets too. So where does a pet parent start?
The answer is really that we all start at a different point each time we decide to get a pet. In my case, I knew I wanted a Rhodesian Ridgeback type dog. I checked with local shelters for Ridgebacks/mixes to no avail before a friend connected me with a leader in the Ridgeback Rescue community. There were no rescues available at the time so she recommended I meet John Arvin, a Ridgeback breeder in NJ who had an upcoming litter. After corresponding over email, John and I set up a meeting at his place to see if I would be a good fit for one of his pups.
Turns out he fit just right!
I admit I was nervous, but unduly so. John and his pack warmly welcomed me into their home. John’s primary concern was making sure I was prepared for a Ridgeback and that the dog would have a good home for life. I passed Eko’s sniff interview and he jumped right into my lap. I knew I found the one. Or rather, he found me.
“I’m ready to roll”
In the years I’ve had Eko, I’ve happily accepted compliments which rightfully belong to John. John’s expert hand guided me through the training/socialization which shaped who Eko is today. John has also been my go-to resource for every and any question I’ve had along the way.
I started seriously considering a second pup about six months ago. I checked out some local clinics like the Animal Welfare League and I lost myself for hours on Petfinder.com perusing the hundreds of thousands of adoptable pups listed. (More on these two awesome resources in a later post)
Then a few months ago John emailed me to say that Molly, Eko’s older sister, was going to have a litter this spring. He asked if I knew anyone interested in applying for one of the dogs. In fact, I did! After all John has done for Eko and me, I knew right away I wanted to get my second dog from him. I wouldn’t be where I am today without John and I love that I can support his mission to breed healthy and sound dogs.
It’s not a great photo, but this is actually Molly curling up with us during my visit (Edit: Eko is the little puppy in this photo! Sorry for the confusion)
I’m thrilled about my new puppy (much more on her very soon!) but my experience is just one path out of many. I easily could have ended up with a dog from AWL or Petfinder, but circumstance and timing led me in another direction. I do appreciate how valuable rescue/adoption resources are so I contribute financially and via word-of-mouth advertising to my favorite organizations whenever possible.
Millions of reasons to celebrate
The world needs both great adoption/rescue resources and great breeders. When getting a new pet there are pitfalls to avoid (disreputable breeders, adoption misconceptions, etc) but there is no “right” template to follow. The right way to find the right pet is a unique journey for each person. And when our minds and hearts are in the right place, that journey always ends exactly where it should – with a new pet to love!