Selecting an Older

Adopting an older dog can be a lot easier than taking in a puppy. The cute factor isn't a distraction. You usually test one dog at a time, not ten. But if you have a bleeding heart, a dog's story can draw you in, even though her temperament may not be suited for your lifestyle. Nothing is sadder than rescuing an older dog and then having to return her because she doesn't mesh with your lifestyle.

Here are some things to consider ahead of time:

• Do you have children? Make sure you introduce them before bringing the dog home. Any caution or unease should immediately eliminate the dog from consideration.

• Startle the dog. Toss your keys or a can filled with pennies on the floor. Does she fall to pieces or attack them? These are not good signs.

• If you have an animal menagerie at home, make sure the dog can cope with the chaos. Ask questions and bring one of your furry pets along to test her reaction.

• Either lift the dog or ask the owner/staff member to pick her up. What happens?

• Offer her a bone or a bowl of food. Can you approach her? Any aggression is a clear warning sign.

Of course, the dog may be slightly wary of you as you are a stranger, but if you see anything extreme, back off, especially if it's aggression. Look for a dog who is accepting and shows patience with children and other animals if they are a factor.

When selecting an older dog, remember that you will probably have to deal with a few bad habits. You'll need to be understanding: bad habits are the result of not knowing what was expected of her in her last home.

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