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Adopt When You’re Ready

“Puppies aren’t presents” is an adage that makes the rounds this time of year, and Kelly Gorman Dunbar brings it up in her column, The Monthly Woof. I thought I knew what was coming next: The holidays might not be the best time to adopt. Not so fast.

Dunbar recognizes how dog companionship makes every day of our lives brighter, and she makes the case that anytime can be a fine time to bring a new dog into a home. But — and this is a big but — families must plan, do their homework, and be prepared for this monumental event. These newbie furballs are a lot of work.

I can relate. Take Wiley, the newest Bay Woof family addition, for example. In the few months she has been padding around our apartment, this youngster has learned so much, moving from being a totally submissive and wily street dog with a constantly tucked tail to being a curious but still shy adolescent who is still skittish. But she is also able to wave her tail higher and more proudly outside the home and away from her safe places as she gains confidence. Like most dogs (and people, for that matter), she’s a work in progress, and helping her become the confident, well-adjusted adult that she deserves to be requires devotion, attention, and consistency from me and the rest of her human family.

Those traits go hand-in-hand with what trainer Susan Raymond of Calm K9 — this month’s Good Dog! guest training columnist — has to say about what dogs really want (or perhaps need) this holiday season. What goes farther than squeaky toys, bully sticks, soft beds, and raincoats are respect, communication, time, autonomy and independence, rules and boundaries, and proof of trustworthiness. That all sounds reasonable to me.

A primary goal Bay Woof is promoting the notion that every dog deserves a forever home, and there are many fine candidates, including puppies, dogs, senior canines, even sick pups who need second chances for whatever reasons. They’re waiting just for you. So find your next best friend through one of the outstanding animal welfare agencies, nonprofits, shelters, or rescue groups you know from the pages of Bay Woof. Save a dog. You don’t have to do it today, over the holidays, or even next year. Adopt when you’re ready. But adopt.

Ed. note: In print, Susan Raymond’s name was misspelled. It is correct here.