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Choosing a Puppy
by Lara Davis

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Choosing a Puppy

Your heart melts. Those innocent "take me home" eyes look up at you and you're sold. You've just lost your heart completely to that adorable little puppy you've had your eyes on. Five minutes haven't even passed and you've already named him and can picture him as part of your family. Anxiously, you await the day you can bring him home. Rudy will be treated just like your very own child. A puppy is just what you always wanted, your very own dog you can call your own. He will be your companion, your bodyguard and your best friend.

You've set up his very own palace. Everything he needs from a goose down puppy bed, paw-printed dish bowls, rubber toys in every shape and size and of course puppy pads. The first night you show him his new sanctuary, kiss him good night and shut the door. Not even a minute has gone by and you hear it. Never in your life have you heard anything howl and whimper like it. This sweet, quiet, little puppy, which never made a peep, now suddenly sounds like an air raid siren going off in the next room. Poor little Rudy, all alone in a new, foreign place… has just been torn from his mom's side and siblings he'll never see again. How could you? You scamper around and set up his new bed right next to yours. Only that won't do, you quickly learn. Rudy needs to sleep right on top of your neck and won't budge until 3am when he makes the same sort of irritating noises to let you know he's got to go. Yep, you guessed it, robe, slippers, galoshes', anything you can think of to brave the night cold and let him out to go to the bathroom. It's either that or you sleep in a soiled bed.

In a short time, cute little Rudy begins to grow the size of a small horse and eat everything in site. But how can this be when just weeks before you saw an ad in the newspaper for an adorable, sweet mannered house pet for sale? You thought labs were gentle, even-tempered dogs but now you are surrendered to this beast that has taken over house and home. Well, Labrador Retrievers are great dogs but most young labs can be destructive and will need basic training skills unless you don't care about your clothes, shoes, newspaper, curtains, wood doors…you get the picture.

As owner and operator of a pet sitting business, I've interacted with every breed of dog that exists from an Airedale terrier to a Weimaraner. Each breed has a distinguishing disposition that makes them distinct. For example, Labrador retrievers are working dogs, which mean they want to work for you and play fetch until you can't lift another stick. They need to be walked daily and given a lot of exercise for mind and body. A pug, on the other hand is a little different. While they like to take a stroll from time to time, they are bred to be a companion type dog, perfectly content rolling up into a little ball on your lap for most of the day. Owners are shocked to find out their Shih Tzu won't go for a walk or their Alaskan Malamute's new favorite habit is digging up their new wood fence. Unfortunately, I have seen too many dogs become abandoned or given up on simply because of their owner's frustration and impatience. A dog owner needs to take the time to train, care for and spend quality time with their dog.

It is essential to really research the type of dog you are thinking about buying before you get sucked into picking from that adorable litter. Every puppy is cute but not every dog suits every person. Narrow down two or three of your top puppy choices and visit them as adults. While a puppy can be cute, they are a lot of work. Consider, adopting a dog from your local dog shelter or visit . Most of these animals have been through their puppy housebreaking days and are dying to go to a good home.

And last, but not least, remember that owning a dog is a big responsibility. For the next twelve plus years this dog will be like family. He will need proper care, nutrition, exercise and regular veterinarian check-ups. A new dog owner learns that every vacation, errand and trip will need to be planned very carefully for the rest of his or her faithful companion's life. With all that said, the benefits of having a family pet far outweighs any initial hassles. There is nothing compared to the feeling of having your loyal canine greet you at the door with big slobbery kisses only a proud parent could endure. The memories, the laughs and the love of a dog will remain with you for the rest of your life. Now, that's a dog gone good feeling.

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