Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Contemplating a Puppy for the Holidays?

Kirby's Petfinder Puppy Pic
If you are thinking about bringing a new canine friend into your family this holiday season, consider adopting a shelter puppy or dog. Want a purebred? There are plenty of purebred dogs available in shelters and foster homes. To find out which breeds are most compatible with you and your family, here's a helpful dog breed selector.

Adopting a mixed breed puppy can be a fun adventure -- while the shelter will give you their best guess, sometimes a pup's breed heritage is deceptive. (Check out our little dog Kirby as a puppy and then as an adult...quite a change!) In Kirby's case, not one of the breeds guessed by the shelter (or us) turned out to be in his DNA! 

If curiosity gets the best of you, have your new companion's DNA tested. It can be helpful to know what different breeds are in your dog's ancestry. For example, some breeds do not respond well to certain vaccines or anesthesia or they may have specific health issues you may want to look out for. We had Kirby's DNA test done by Canine Heritage. (Note: they've lowered their prices considerably since we had Kirby's done!) Not only is it helpful from a medical perspective, it can be fun. We had a contest among friends to see who could most closely guess Kirby's breed combination and the winner received a donation in their name to a local shelter. Holiday party game perhaps?  We were surprised to find out Kirby's breed mix (or at least 50% of it..the other 50% was too diverse to register any specific breeds...He's a loveable mutt through and through!)
Kirby as an adult

Whether you adopt a dog from a shelter or from a reputable breeder, it's important to remember that the holidays can be a stressful time to introduce a new pet into your home. Be sure to allow plenty of calm time for your new family member to adjust to the people and the smells, sounds and landscape of your home. Better yet -- ask your local shelter or breeder if they will reserve the dog for you, then give a gift certificate to the lucky recipient and bring your dog into your home after all the hoopla of the holidays is over.

Happy Holidays!

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