Should I buy or adopt?

Not long ago, a good friend of mine took his girlfriend to a local pet store to look at puppies. They fell in love with a little Yorkie, and posted pictures online of themselves playing with the dog. She was a cutie, for sure, but this particular store doesn’t have the best reputation in the dog community. I was tempted to call my friend and beg him not to buy the puppy. I wanted to tell him about the horrible rumors I’d heard about where pet stores buy their dogs and the terrible things some of these puppies are subjected to.

But then again, who am I to judge? Ultimately it was their decision, and I had no place intervening. I certainly wasn’t going to become the type of person who judges someone based on where they get their dog. Still, I was quite relieved when they eventually decided not to purchase the dog.

Today, I’m experiencing my own internal struggle. My wife and I are ready to add a new canine member to our family, but can’t decide where to look. Do we buy a puppy or adopt a shelter dog? It’s a question I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to answer for months now.

As I wrote about recently, our first attempt at adopting a dog didn’t go so well. Thankfully, Tyson is doing great in his new home and loves his new family. But the whole ordeal left a bad taste in my mouth. How can I trust that another rescue dog’s behavior won’t change completely once we get him home?

I’m well aware that there are thousands of amazing shelter dogs looking for homes. Most of them have no aggression issues and will fit right in if given a chance. But after the Tyson ordeal, I can’t afford to make a mistake. Giving him up was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I don’t want to go through that again.

After working at a dog daycare and boarding facility through college, I’m pretty knowledgeable about dog breeds and personality. The problem is that I like too many of them. I like English bulldogs, vizslas, golden retrievers, and Weimaraners, I like German shorthaired pointers, boxers, Great Danes, and Boston terriers. And of course, I like mutts.

I search for dogs nearly every day. I look in the local paper’s classifieds for puppies from breeders. I scour through rescue groups’ websites. I search comprehensive adoption sites. I browse through city shelters’ listings. I can’t decide exactly what I’m looking for, but I hope it will become clear once I see the perfect listing.

As much as I’d love to “do the right thing” and adopt a dog, I can’t help but be scared of how he might turn out. What if he’s been abused and harbors aggression toward people? What if the shelter is unaware of the fact that he bit a child in the past? I’m more than willing to be patient and work with a dog to curb behavior issues, but I won’t put my family in danger.

So where do I go from here? It seems everyone has an opinion on the matter, but when it comes down to it, my wife and I will have to decide what’s best for us. In all honesty, I’m not as concerned with where the dog comes from as I am with finding one that fits with our lifestyle and will become a loyal, loving family member. I guess all that’s left is to find the perfect one.


  • Ever thought of fostering dogs for a rescue group or shelter?  If you find THE right one, you can adopt!  If not, you would have the rewarding experience of providing a temporary safe place until THE right family comes along!

    kzac, 4 years ago | Flag
  • It never ceases to amaze me how many professional dog people know so little about dogs.  Your kind would rather kill a shelter dog than rehabilitate it, because in spite of your supposed 'experience' in shelters you have no idea what makes dogs tick or how to fix them when they're psychologically broken.  You'd rather patronize a puppy-mill outlet store than rescue a dog destined for euthanasia?  You thus encourage more puppy mills and their more haughty middle-class equivalents, the 'breeder', to exacerbate the pet overpopulation problem.  Two million dogs euthanized each year in the US and you want to encourage the production of More dogs?  It's sickening, frankly, and to hear that you worked in a shelter makes it that much more sickening.  I suspect by now the adoption-source issue is moot, but your long-held unwillingness to take responsibility for your dogs' Behavior is likely continuing, to your dog's certain detriment.  Man up, learn to control your dog's behavior, accept responsibility not only for its physical well-being but also for its psychological well-being, and don't just buy into the cop-out nonsense about how fido isn't fixable.  Dogs don't become neurotic by themselves, their owners do it to them, but as soon as the owner changes, the dog can change.  For your dog's sake, learn to fill the leadership vacuum even your dog easily recognizes and thus provide it with the guidance it wants and needs to live a happy balanced life.  Good luck.



    calmassertiv, 5 years ago | Flag
  • Sorry to hear you had a negative experience adopting. I strongly believe that "exceptional" shelter dogs are the rule, and not the exception! Open your home to a homeless pet, and your heart will thank you.
    jcburcham, 5 years ago | Flag
  • There are many wonderful rescues that foster dogs in their homes, which is the advantage of adopting from a good rescue group. These dogs are usually kid/cat/dog tested, and started in basic obedience training(like who really does own the sofa!)
    and there is nothing wrong with buying from a responsible breeder! Good luck in your search
    kathyrvt, 5 years ago | Flag
  • Good luck with your doggie hunt. We have a pariah dog from the island of St. Kitts, and have always said we will be returning to the island to pick up our next pooch. I've met soo many of these mutts from the Ross grads, and I have liked every single one. Sure, people will complain that with so many pets depserately needing homes in the US, that why should we go outside it for a mutt. But the St. Kitts dogs are really unique in their personallities that I haven't found a compariable pure-breed, or pitt bull (the predominate shelter dog around here) to match.
    NWinkler, 5 years ago | Flag
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5 years ago

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