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Be Patient & Wait



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Doggone Etiquette—

Be Patient & Wait

By Bardi McLennan

A Word to the Dog:           

This is a message to all you dogs in shelters, as well as to all the puppies and older dogs in breeders’ kennels. It’s the time of year when you must be patient. Try hard to understand the meaning of “wait” because if you are patient and wait, your turn to move into a new home of your own will come. The problem is not with any of you dogs — it’s with all the people who are thinking what fun it would be to bring a new dog into their house to spark up their holidays! Well, you might be good at doing that, but each of you is worth a lot more than any gift from Santa Claus under the tree. Those people just have to do what you’re doing — WAIT! Let’s see if we can explain it to them.

A Word to the Would-be Dog Owner:             

Upfront, let me say that there is an exception to all the rest of what we’re going to discuss. If you live alone, are home all day, and will be home alone when it seems everyone else is getting ready for (and celebrating) the upcoming holidays, then it just might possibly be the perfect time to bring a new dog into your life. (There are a lot of precautions in that very long sentence!) “Home all day” because no dog can be safely left alone in new surroundings while the owner goes off to work. The dog has a lot to learn about this new life and he needs time to settle in. A new owner also has much to learn about this particular dog. 

For the rest of you, dream on! This holiday period is a great time to think carefully about your choice of a dog. When the family has come to an agreement about getting a dog, and can also agree as to what type, size, age, and breed of dog, then the search can begin. But when it comes to actually bringing the dog home — WAIT! Getting a dog is not just a fun event for the holidays. A new dog in the home can’t be expected to cope with holiday parties, people coming and going, kids running in and out, decorations and gift wrappings — to say nothing of indoor trees!             

However, if you and the family are serious about wanting to add a dog to your home, you can certainly start looking now perhaps with a trip to the library. There are loads of books covering everything you’d ever want to know about dogs in general, as well as books on specific breeds. Once you’ve decided on certain breeds, plan to go and see the dogs and learn more about them by contacting breeders and breed rescue groups, and the shelters.

If you should luck out and find the perfect dog, make all the arrangements (financial and otherwise) with the breeder, owner, or shelter to keep that dog for you until an agreed-upon pick-up date. Then plan to bring your new Rufus home when everyone has the time to devote to the dog’s needs and to make him feel he’s very special, and definitely worth the wait.

A dog new to a household that’s in any degree of chaos would be confused and unable to fit in. Plus, you would end up doing a lot of unwarranted punishing, scolding, or otherwise blaming the poor dog for any and all mistakes he didn’t know he had made. Regardless of its age or prior training, every dog brought into a new home requires close attention (almost 24/7) from day one to set good ground rules. That’s only being fair — to you and the dog. With your home and everyone in it back to a more normal routine, the puppy or older dog will catch on to its new way of life relatively quickly. Dogs thrive on repetitive routines doled out by people with whom they bond. A dog is definitely worth the wait!


Until then — BE PATIENT!


Bardi McLennan bred, trained and showed Welsh Terriers for 30 years, during which time she wrote a monthly column on canine behavior in Dog Fancy Magazine. In addition to contributing to numerous dog publications, she has written 15 books on dogs, the latest being Rescue Me!, which received the ASPCA Humane Issues Award in 2008.

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