The Gift of the Pre-Owned Dog

by Melody Greba


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At 6:30 a.m. the alarm goes are dressed for school or are carted off to the sitter, and work begins at 8.  The work day ends at 5 and then it’s time to pick up the kids and take them to gymnastics, basketball, soccer, cheerleading or whatever practice.  Parent-teacher meetings are on Thursday, Friday the in-laws are visiting, and the next thing you know the week is done. So who has time for a puppy?

But everyone wants a puppy to complete the picture-perfect family.  A puppy is viewed as special, someone who can grow up bonded to the family and who will romp in the back yard with the kids.  And life goes on happily ever after.

But happily ever after it isn’t if the proper time isn’t spent with the puppy.  The time and money spent can snowball as the unsupervised puppy destroys rugs, furniture, cabinets, doorframes, shoes and what not.  Puppies growing up without rules can be obnoxious, unruly, maybe aggressive at times, or may become unwanted.  If the family has no time for training, perhaps a puppy is not the best choice.

An adult dog given all the basics—time, training, vaccinations—may be the ticket.  The older dog has a great deal to offer a busy family.  Selecting the right older dog can offer a destruction-free house, accomplished housebreaking, current vaccinations, and an adult temperament able to be evaluated. Obedience training may even be a part of the package.  With all this to offer, adult dogs are still considered to be throwaways, secondhand, used.

Young adult dogs from nine months to five or six years become available for new homes fairly often.  Many reasons account for their transitions.  Some of the more positive reasons may include someone in the home having allergies, or divorce, job loss, the kids lost interest, the parents travel too much or any one of a number of legitimate reasons.  These dogs may be purebred or mixes, with papers of registration, and already spayed or neutered.

Spending the time getting to know the new dog, feeding and spending a reasonable amount of time playing and getting acquainted is usually enough to develop a bond between the family and the dog.  Within a couple of weeks, the dog will fit in as though he has always been there.  Within two or three months, he probably won’t even respond to his old family.  Mission accomplished.

But where does one go for such a dog?  Ask the vets, groomers, boarding kennels and training centers in your area. Contact rescue organizations, visit animal shelters, look in the newspaper.  A trial period may be available from a private individual or rescue organization to ensure that everyone is happy and getting along.

And what should one pay for such an animal?  Should you expect it for free?  What would you pay for a puppy at eight weeks of age?  You should not be averse to paying the same price for an already trained, vaccinated young adult dog whose temperament has developed to be  exactly “what you see is what you get.”  If you were prepared to spend $300 to $500 for a puppy without training, then actually the price for a trained adult should be much more. But to most people, finding the right family for their dog is more important than cashing in on the time and money already spent.  In other words, they usually ask for the original puppy price or less.  Quite a bargain!

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Last modified: April 19, 2012