Working with Animal Shelters

Even if you don't have a Dachshund rescue program in or near your town (see the previous section), you probably have an animal shelter. The main difference between adopting from a rescue group and from an animal shelter is that the rescue group often specializes in a particular breed. They may be better at screening for problems, and they may have more time to give. Many animal shelters, however, do an amazing job at screening potential pets, and many even have obedience training programs to help make the animals more adoptable. It all depends on where you live and what's available to you, but check out both options: rescue groups and animal shelters.

Sometimes, animal shelters shuttle any purebreds off to rescue groups. In other cases, they may have purebred dogs, including Dachshunds, right there in the shelters. Your local shelter may take your name and contact you if a Dachshund comes in. But don't be surprised or offended if it doesn't; shelter workers, like rescue workers, often are overworked and underpaid. Your best bet is to visit the shelter often and keep looking. (If nothing else, frequent shelter visits will probably convince you to have your future Dachshund spayed or neutered.)

Some animal shelters are the spectacular culminations of the efforts of many people who are seriously committed to helping place the animals they receive and to educating the public. Others are barely scraping by on tiny budgets and have a hard time handling the load of animals they receive.

AM* Whatever the case in your area, be aware that adopting a shelter dog often involves a lot of paperwork. You probably can't just walk into the shelter and get one. Many shelters check out living situations by calling landlords to ensure that they allow dogs, for example. It may seem like a pain, but just remember that all the questions, forms, and red tape are for the protection of the pets. The shelter wants to feel confident that you won't bring the dog right back in a few weeks or months.

Stick to the books: No dogs for college kids

If you're a college student, you may be frustrated to find out that your local animal shelter won't let you adopt a dog under any circumstances. Is that fair? I mean, you just know you'd be a fantastic dog owner. Actually, although many college students would make great and committed dog owners, students are notorious for abandoning their animals when they graduate. So many shelters have been burdened by huge influxes of pets come graduation time that this policy is in place to safeguard the well-being of the pets. Don't be offended. Be glad the shelter is working in the overall best interest of its animals. You can always adopt a pet after you're settled into your post-school life.

A Dachshund for life

Wherever you get your Dachshund, after you get it, it should be yours for life. Dachshunds live a long time — often 12 to 16 years — and you should plan to keep your new friend through thick and thin, for better or for worse, unless it's absolutely impossible to do so. Dachshunds (and all dogs, for that matter) are living, breathing, sentient beings that form a relationship with their owners, depend on a regular routine, and look to humans for guidance, care, and affection. They feel pain, loss, and neglect if they're hurt, abandoned, or abused. If you take on the responsibility of a dog, take it on for life. And if you absolutely must give up your dog because of circumstances beyond your control, at least see that it finds a new home where it can receive the proper amount of care and love — and won't be given up again.

Also, a shelter may not have the time to screen individual dogs for temperament and health. Buyer beware, in other words. You may get a great dog, or you may get a short-legged, long-bodied bundle of trouble. Best to do your research, trust your intuition, and be prepared for a lot of work, rehabilitation, and retraining (see the chapters of Part III). Then, if you get a great pet, you'll be happily surprised.

Adopting a shelter dog is a wonderful — even noble — thing to do. So many dogs desperately need good homes, and most of them won't ever find one. And the dog isn't the only one who benefits. Many people with shelter dogs are devoted to the point of fanaticism to their rescued pets.

WJEfl Adopting a shelter dog is a serious commitment, so please don't take it lightly. Just because a dog doesn't cost $500 or $1,000 or more doesn't mean it isn't as deserving of love, good medical care, and your time. Be ready for a nervous, scared, confused pet that needs a lot of patience, attention, and consistent and positive training. Work with your new friend, and you may just discover that you have a diamond in the rough.

Part II

Starting Out on the Right Paw at Home

Far Side Science Cartoons
How To Train Your Puppy

How To Train Your Puppy

Getting a new puppy is a fun and interesting time. You probably went to a breeder or pet store or maybe just saw an ad on the Internet or the newspaper, for puppies, and decided just to check it out. Before you knew it those little eyes and fluffy puppy fur had your heart melting and you were headed home with him or her in your arms. If you are like most new pet owners you had visions of playing fetch with your dog, of watching him frolic at the lake, and of cuddling up on cold nights.

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