Thanks to The Week (April 22, 2016) for highlighting Lucca, a U.S. Marine dog that was awarded the Dickin Medal, Britain’s top honor for military animals. A retired explosives dog that uncovered more than completed 400 patrols and uncovered dozens of explosive and insurgents, the German shepherd retired in 2012 after she lost a leg to an IED.0422_NAB.jpg

War hero ‘Lucca’

As our loyal followers know, we’re huge advocates of adopting rescue dogs and cats. After all, if mom and dad hadn’t stepped up for me, who knows where (or even if) I’d be living right now. If that isn’t enough to send you running to your local shelter, The Humane Society of the United States offers some additional food for thought. According to their numbers, between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats (most of them family pets surrendered because of “moving” or “landlord problems”) end up in our nation’s shelters each year. Of that staggering number, only half will not be adopted. When you factor in vaccinations, spay and neutering, and microchipping, the cost adopting a dog or cat from a shelter or rescue agency is typically less than for those purchased or gotten for free. If money doesn’t move you, then consider the latest study on Human-Pet bonding. According to a roundup article by Valerie Burke, MSN for, bonding with pets offers a host of physical and emotional benefits, including better stress management, improved fitness levels, reduced risk for stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular ailments, pain relief from a host of chronic ailments, fewer allergies and a boost to the body’s immune system. For children, living with pets has been shown to reduce allergies and boost EQ – empathy and compassion – a key predictor of future academic success.

IMG_1538.jpgTanner sharing the love with our bro-in-law, Ernie, and nephew, Armand

  • Just because they’re good for you,and a great bargain doesn’t mean that every pet is right for every potential adopter. As we note in GIMME SHELTER, before you head out to the shelter, it might be wise to do some homework and take a personal financial and emotional inventory to assess your needs and abilities.
  • Ask yourself what you want/need in a dog. Will the dog be your constant companion? Will it have to co-exist with young children? With other dogs or cats? Does your apartment, condo or co-op board have any size or breed restrictions?
  • Spend some time researching the breed you are considering. Learn what it was bred for and the breed’s general temperament. If you live in a small apartment and aren’t big on outdoor exercise, you might want to avoid a dog that was bred for running. If you are away at work during the day and the dog will be indoors, you might want to consider a low-energy dog. A good resource is The ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs. The more knowledge you have, the better your chances for a successful pairing.
  • Decide how much time and energy you are willing to devote to the dog. Many people overestimate both. As a result, the dog gets shortchanged on exercise and affection, or becomes a burden to the owners, making a failed adoption more likely. Puppies and young dogs generally require more time and patience than older ones.
  • Include all family members in the selection of the dog. Bringing home a new dog can be chaotic in the best of circumstances. Defining each member’s responsibilities before adoption will help lessen the chaos. Young children may be too physically aggressive for very young puppies or fragile toy breeds. A dog that growls, cowers, raises its hackles, runs from your children, or that is reluctant to be petted is probably not a good choice for families with children.
  • Spend at least one hour getting to know the dog you are considering. Barring unforeseen events, this animal will be a member of your family for 12 or more years.
  • Find a local veterinarian and discuss canine nutrition and healthcare needs such a checkups and vaccinations. Medical emergencies can be expensive, so you might want to inquire about pet insurance.

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