If you have been thinking of getting a new dog, and adding a new member to your family, have you considered all the options available to you? The obvious choice people make, when considering a new dog is to go to a specialized dog breeder. A good dog breeder will sell you a puppy that has been professionally checked for genetic problems, diseases, etc. And a good dog breeder will introduce you to the puppy’s parents. A good dog breeder will very often provide you with a high quality, pedigree dog that should be free from problems. A GREAT breeder, will offer to take the puppy back, and refund your money, should there ever be any serious health issues. And an even better breeder, would offer to pay for medical issues that arise after purchase, through your puppy’s first few years. Finding a reputable breeder and purchasing a puppy from them, may be ideal for many, but of course, come with a very large price tag. There is an alternative – adopting a pet from a local, non profit, pet rescue organization. There are thousands of dogs that are without homes at animal shelters or humane societies right here in Connecticut. These animals are often a victim of circumstance. An owner may have passed away, or is moving, and has decided not to take their dog with them. Sadly, through no fault of their own, many of these perfectly healthy, potty trained, command trained dogs, of all ages, have ended up homeless. Adopting a dog, is a great way to offer a loving home, to a pet that needs it. Many people don’t consider adopting their next fur friend from a shelter because there are concerns that shelter dogs are “problem” dogs; Concerns that they may end up with an unhealthy dog, or a dog that may be aggressive. However, in most cases, animals surrendered to local shelters undergo more thorough health and behavior checks than most pet stores and breeders conduct. Many of these are senior dogs that have already been trained and are ready to be your constant companion. Also, many shelters offer in-house training to increase the chances of a dog finding a new home. Which is great for everybody! Animal shelters almost always have pure bred dogs. Any breed, any size, any temperament…you will find at your local pet shelter. And always at a reasonable price or donation fee. The best way to go about adopting a dog is to visit Petfinder.com, or your local animal shelter’s Facebook page and website. View a list and description of pets available for adoption, and then pay them a visit. Explain to the staff, what kind of dog would suit you and your family. Bear in mind that if you have very small children, getting a large or very energetic dog may not be a good idea. Similarly if you have an apartment, consider adopting a small dog that doesn’t require vast amounts of exercise. A bit of forethought before you arrive will make finding the perfect dog for you that much easier. When you bring your new dog home, try and imagine things from her perspective. Your new dog has probably been through a lot in the past, so bringing her to yet another new home may be overwhelming. All too often, pets that have been adopted, are returned to shelters within a very short time frame. Keep in mind, that it will take two to three weeks for your new pet to get comfortable and establish a routine. The best thing to do is keep her on a leash at first, and gradually introduce her to your home letting her sniff each room until she has got a feel for her new surroundings. Once she has settled down, allow her to walk freely off the leash inside your home (not outside off the leash). This will give her a chance to find ‘her’ spot, her favorite place. We all have a favorite spot where we like to go, dogs are no different. If you have bought a new dog bed or blanket for your new arrival, this may be the place to put it. She will naturally go to that spot, so having a comfy new bed there will help her settle in. Your new dog may be very quiet for the first few days. Don’t worry, this is part of the settling in process. After a short while your dog will be a fully settled in, new member of the family. Adopting from an animal shelter is a great way to find a new companion, and a great way to make a new and happy future for a very deserving dog. Have you recently adopted a shelter pet? Send us your photos and stories! Not ready to add a pet to your family? Consider making a monetary donation to one of Connecticut’s pet rescue organizations and shelters. Meriden Humane Society, Animal Rescue Foundation Terryville.