BOOKS: The Adopted Dog Bible

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:

The Adopted Dog Bible by Petfinder.com
Harper Collins (10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022), 2009. 512
pages, paperback. $22.99.

“Choosing a dog is much too important a task to be conducted
in haste,” says The Adopted Dog Bible, from Petfinder.com–exactly
the message that the humane community has tried to teach potential
dog adopters since dog adoptions began. Assembled by Petfinder.com
vice president of shelter outreach and public relations Kim Saunders,
The Adopted Dog Bible includes valuable contributions and helpful
hints from experts including Amy Shojai, Susan McCullough, Liz
Palika, Sue Sternberg, and Lila Miller, DVM, among others.
Adoption is a great option says The Adopted Dog Bible,
guiding readers through finding a shelter or rescue near their home,
and explaining what adoption entails.


Petfinder.com, founded in 1996, popularized choosing pets
by viewing them at web sites, but the authors recommend meeting a
dog in person before sealing an adoption. Shelters and rescues want
each adoption to last for the life of the dog, so should allow
everyone in the family a chance to personally bond with the dog.
Dogs who return to shelters have an increased sense of abandonment.
With each failed adoptiona dog can become more difficult to rehome
successfully.
The Adopted Dog Bible asks potential adopters to consider the
expense of keeping a dog, whether all members of a household are in
agreement about having a dog, whether the dog will be left alone
often, what kind of dog to adopt, and whether the adopters can
adequately care for a dog with special needs, such as a dog who is
blind or deaf. A section is devoted to puppies: how to puppy-proof
a home, how often puppies eat, how many vaccinations they need,
and proper housetraining. Petfinders.com encourages readers to
consider older dogs who are already housebroken, behavior-trained,
and simply looking for a good home.
Chapter seven begins, “All dogs need training.” Shelter
dogs are no different. Often people avoid adoption because they
assume that shelter and rescue dogs behave badly. Indeed, about
half of the dogs in shelters at any given time are there for
behavioral reasons, but about half are not.
Many shelters and rescues will train out any known behavioral
problems that contributed to a dog being surrendered to a shelter.
But even if this has not been done, issues such as lack of
housetraining and chronic chewing or digging can be worked out with
time, patience, and rewards-based training.
Newer training methods, such as clicker training and the
target stick, give the reader options to modify behaviors like
begging, barking at the doorbell, or panic caused by thunderstorms.
The Adopted Dog Bible also helps dog keepers to introduce their dogs
to newborn babies, so that babies will be safe and a confused pet is
not returned to a shelter.
Nutrition is important to any dog’s health. Shelter dogs
often have had poor nutrition, from living as strays or as victims
of past neglect, so a proper diet is important. The Adopted Dog
Bible discusses wet vs. dry foods, home-cooked foods, snacks, and
even a holistic diet. Canine obesity is discussed, as an increasing
problem for dogs as well as humans.
All dogs need exercise. Adopted dogs may have spent months
or years chained, caged, crated, or left alone in a yard without
being walked. If potential dog keepers are not prepared to walk a
dog daily, they should put off the adoption or consider hiring a dog
walker. Dog parks, increasingly common now, are a great place to
socialize dogs and allow them to romp and roll off leash. The
Adopted Dog Bible recommends waiting to take an adopted dog to a dog
park until the adopter knows the dog’s behavior and has earned the
dog’s trust. Adopted dogs may enjoy hiking and jogging, but a
veterinary check up is recommended first. Dogs who may be
predisposed toward developing dysplacia will need a less strenuous
regimen.
Other sections include caring for sick and senior dogs. As
dogs age, they become susceptible–like humans–to chronic diseases
including diabetes, liver failure, and heart ailments. These
conditions can be treated at home, but diabetes will require insulin
injections or tablets. The Adopted Dog Bible familiarizes the reader
with basic medical care for older, sick dogs and offers first aid
tips.
If a person or family must give up a dog, The Adopted Dog
Bible suggests that shelters should be the last option, not the
first. The authors recommend that keepers should try find suitable
homes for dogs by interviewing applicants and asking for references.
Ideally one should visit a new home, and should not be afraid to say
no if the new home seems inappropriate.
The last chapter says that “losing a dog is like losing part
of yourself.” Everyone who keeps dogs will eventually confront
euthanasia. Most shelter personnel who perform euthanasia will
testify that experience helps only up to a point. Saying goodbye to
a beloved dog is a decision that no one wants to make. Yet when a
dog is old, sick, and suffering, ending the dog’s pain is often
the kindest choice. The authors say that grief over a dog’s death is
real. If a grieving owner has trouble coping, pet loss counseling is
available, usually through animal shelters or hospices.
–Debra J. White

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