Adopting a dog, or any animal for that matter, is one of the most rewarding things you can do when bringing a pet into your life. Unfortunately, as you’ll find out early on in your search, dogs going through the system don’t always fit with cookie-cutter ideals of what a perfect pooch ‘should’ be.
Often, this comes down to behavioral issues as a direct result of time in kennels and can be rectified by providing that dog with a loving home environment. For other dogs, however, special needs and disabilities may be the reason for a kennel stay in the first place, and those aren’t as easy to overcome.
Of course, with dogs who have special needs typically requiring homes the most, it doesn’t always pay to rule these problems out upfront if you have a good gut feeling. You do, however, need to take care making sure this is the right choice for your family by asking questions like the following.
What supplies would you need?
Any dog requires supplies including a dog bed, plenty of toys, and of course a full cupboard of their favorite dog food brands (as well as a few treats). These essentials can be expensive enough in themselves, but those costs keep on adding when it comes to special needs dogs who can also require extra supplies including custom-made beds, accessibility steps or ramps, prosthetics, and medication. Making a full list, considering the costs, and even thinking about where you would store it all, is therefore essential ahead of making any decisions.
Can your lifestyle accommodate this responsibility?
Generally speaking, special needs dogs require more care, be that in the form of assistance getting around, a higher number of specialist vet visits, or even help with daily tasks like eating and cleaning. What’s more, these requirements should be met on an as-needs basis, meaning that your lifestyle must accommodate this responsibility. Logically, then, working full time and juggling a house full of kids likely won’t work here. If, however, your children are in school and you’re home a great deal of the day, then there’s every chance that this commitment could suit.
Are you all emotionally ready?
It’s also essential to consider whether the entire family is emotionally ready for this commitment. After all, extra care aside, special needs dogs are often susceptible to increased risks of complications, as well as general daily struggles. All of that is hard enough to take as an adult, but care must especially be taken when you have kids in the house. In particular, you need to ensure that your kids are old enough to understand and process this information. For you, make sure to also think realistically about how you would feel if something went wrong, and whether you’d find that emotional toll manageable.
Adopt don’t shop has finally become a mantra that more people are getting behind. Make sure you approach it in the right way by considering these questions before adopting a special needs dog that you can’t truly commit to.