Adopting A Dog
Unlike the presidency, which lasts for only four years, adopting a dog is for life. Susan Daffron, the founder of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals and the author of “Happy Hound: Develop a Great Relationship with Your Adopted Dog or Puppy” (www.HappyHoundBook.com) has a few tips for how the Obama family can make good choices regarding the new “First Puppy.”
1. Kids need to learn the responsibilities involved in pet ownership. Malia and Sasha should be involved caring for the new puppy with simple tasks such as regular brushing and feeding. The girls need to understand the realities of housebreaking a puppy. (Accidents are inevitable and the puppy will have to go outside innumerable times!) The two most important elements of successful dog ownership are time and patience. Given their complex life, the Obama family will need to work together and talk about how the new dog will fit in with life at the White House.
2. Even if the Obamas opt to adopt a mixed breed, it helps to know the characteristics of the breeds that make up the mutt. Breed information is available from books, Web sites, and animal shelters. The Obamas need to consider the dog’s activity level. For example, a border collie (or mix) needs more exercise than a Bassett hound.
3. Although learning about dog breeds can help, people often assume a breed of dog is destined to behave a certain way. Although genetics come into play, stereotyping breed behavior can result in a bad dog owner match. Dogs are individuals. Some people like exuberant outgoing dogs but others prefer dogs with more reserved, relaxed behavior. The Obamas should select a puppy with a compatible personality. Additionally, this puppy will be one of the most photographed animals in the world, so he or she should be extremely well socialized and friendly toward people.
4. The Obamas also must take Malia’s allergies into account. Dogs with short hair, such a greyhounds, and whippets, “non-shedding” coats such as poodles, or silky coats like certain terriers are often better for allergy sufferers. These coat characteristics occur in mixes of these breeds as well. Bathing the dog frequently can help reduce the number of allergens.
Daffron says, “Adopting a dog is a big commitment, but so is being President of the United States. I’m confident that with a little understanding and TLC, the Obamas will be able to help their newly adopted shelter puppy feel comfortable and become a cherished part of the family. The Obamas have a great opportunity to be outstanding role models for other people who are considering the pet adoption option.”