I absolutely admire people who adopt difficult dogs. As a person who suffers from depression, I knew I couldn’t be one of those people. I knew I needed a dog that would be a calming, happy presence in my home, a dog that would lessen my frustration with the world, not add to it. There are plenty of sweet, happy dogs that need homes. Here are some tips for finding the right one for you:
- Adopt a grown dog. Puppies are a LOT of work, for at least a year, usually two. They pee and poop on your stuff and feel an irrepressible need to interact with the world by chewing on things – it can be more than just annoying. It can be really expensive. In hindsight, many dog owners would skip the undeniable cuteness if they could skip the frustration of the puppy years.
- Try to adopt a dog who’s being fostered in a home, not one that’s been held at the kennel for weeks or months. The way a dog acts in a kennel gives you almost no indication of their demeanor. Many have kennel cough, which sedates them, and others are overly hyper because they need exercise. When you meet a foster dog, you meet a dog that’s in its element, and the foster family can tell you more about the dog than the kennel staff ever could.
- Beware of pushy kennel staff. While their application process may make it seem like they’re picky about who can adopt, many staff are really on a mission to find homes for as many dogs as possible – they’re in the business of saving lives. Be patient. Be insistent. I even recommend finding the most experienced staff member you can (many are staffed by young volunteers), and try to sit them down and tell them about your condition. Tell them you need a truly special dog, and that you’re willing to wait.
- You choose them, but they also choose you. Wait. Wait for that dog with which you really do feel a special connection.
You deserve a dog that really enhances your life. Finding that dog can take weeks or months of browsing online and searching local rescue facilities, but it’s worth it. You’ll have the dog for a decade or more, and for that whole time, the right dog will lower your blood pressure, lift your mood, and bring you that thing that can seem so implausible: Joy. Daily Joy.