Okay, you have decided to take the step to acquire a dog for a pet, for your home. That is the first step. For some, that is the only step and then they go out and get a dog. Of course that is not the best way to follow through on this decision. Getting a puppy on impulse is not a good idea. I had a client tell me, “One of the workers brought a box of puppies to work and I brought one home.”

So, why do you want a pet? This is the first question you ask yourself. Do you want a companion, a status symbol, a dog for a specific function (hunting, showing) a protection dog, a playmate for the children? This is an important question because the answer becomes your guide for research. If you want a hunting dog, you’ll not get a Maltese.

What is your life style? Do you live in a two bedroom apartment? Do you live in a townhouse? Do you own your own home? If you live in a two bedroom apartment a Great Pyrenees probably is not a good selection. How long are you gone during the day? Will your dog be crated all day? Is its breed a barker? Are you going to have time to properly train? Some think, “All I have to do is bring it home. It will catch on in time.” That never turns out well, for the owner or the puppy. If children, will they be properly instructed in what it means to have a pet? These too are important questions to ask, and to lay out a plan for a new family member.

With these questions answered it is time to start searching. This can be a wonderful family activity, and everyone has input. Where do I begin the search? I am glad you asked that. First, I would eliminate a pet store. Puppies I pet stores come from Puppy Mills. These are conveyer belt dogs. Their conditions are horrible. Females are bred until they cannot produce anymore and killed. The behavioral issues these poor animals develop are often irreversible. I have had some of these dogs as clients. They did not know what grass was, they were impossible to house train, and they spend their lives fearful of everything. So, rule that source or their agents out. Some agents will advertise in the newspaper, and sell puppies to unsuspecting customers.

Do you wanting to acquire a purebred. Why? If this is for your ego or status reconsider your decision. Begin researching what would best fit your home. What are the characteristics of that particular breed? If there are children, is the breed good with children? The number one AKC is the Labrador Retriever. This breed is a good pet for many different purposes. Do honest research and choose that forever friend.

I need to say, I am not writing regarding dogs that are going to be left on a chain in the back yard. These are not pets and for the life of me I don’t understand people doing this. They live in a dog house, maybe with a straw bed. They walk in mud and dirt. Suffer heat in the summer, and suffer cold in the winter. I know, some will scold me for saying this. So let’s just settle it here, I am writing about INDOOR pets.

Another option is a rescued dog at a local shelter. Many of these dogs are wonderful animals. Very few of these dogs have serious issues. Shelters also have puppies. Some people do not want an adult dog. Why? Really consider the answer. These dogs have their shots, are usually is house trained, and are microchiped. Most of these dogs are not in the shelter because they are mean, but because a loved pet strayed from home, or the owner’s life’s situation changed. I work in shelters

and there are many loving dogs that would make a wonderfully devoted friend. Begin looking at what the shelters have.

Rescues are also a great place to find a loving family pet. In our area we have ARF. Terri Ponzi and her staff are the most loving, caring advocates for both dogs and cats you will ever find. They also have puppies, adult dogs, and every age between.

There are breed specific rescues. Rescues are very particular about the adoptees. These dogs are wanting to be with a family and you will do the animal population a favor by adopting from shelters, or rescues.

I have a close friend who will only adopt a dog that has issues. She and her husband have two three legged dogs and a deaf dog. The only “normal” dog in the home is her Service Dog, Max.

I trained Max, so I know he is normal.

Again, Christmas is not the best time to bring a pet into your home. The dog has feelings also.. Everything is new and strange. The dog is already stressed and fearful. If the new pet gets a hold of something it is not to have people will be chasing, yelling, or grabbing. Think how that would scare and stress the dog. With all this stress the puppy will surely pee and/or poop in the house. The result will be the same, yelling, grabbing, perhaps his nose will be rubbed in the mistake. These are not only the wrong things to do, but the poor pet is set up to fail and be punished.

I hope some of this will help you as you begin the process to select a pet. There are many points I did not include in this. Others would add much more. I am aware that this is very skeletal. I could have written several pages with many more points and sub-points. But I hope the simplicity is a help to someone.

If this raises questions you are free to contact me. I will be glad to offer you counsel to help you select your forever friend.


You know, family is such an important part of one’s life. My heart goes out to those children and young people who do not have a sense of family. So much is absent from their lives. Going to sleep at night must be terribly lonely and empty. Many times I am reluctant to talk about the closeness of our family for fear I may elicit guilt or depression from the other person. I find it hard to talk abo…ut my children to someone whose children may be in prison, hates them, or never come home to visit. Those situations and lives are painful all around.
But I cannot escape the deep pride and fulfilling joy that comes from our four children. I am not the most wonderful father, but they are the most wonderful and caring children we could ever have. What is funny (in a fulfilling sense) is that when Linda and I talk about something we would now do different (and we do with our grandchildren) they most often don’t even remember it. What is not so fulfilling is that we cannot forget it. Many things they don’t remember still bothers, at times, even haunts us.
When I counsel and hear the sadness in the voices, and see the sadness in the eyes, my pathos goes deep. I often want to hold those parents, many times I weep with those parents. My place is to lead them beyond their pain to forgiveness if necessary and hope which is there for them.
The Christmas story is not only about the Christ child, but it is also about family, family gathered together around the Christ child. We gather around our tree, take the Bible and read Luke 2 (the Christmas story), pray together (children, wives & husband-in-law, our 12 grandchildren, and for the first this year, our great grandchild). Not only all of those, but about six dogs. You should see the row of stockings on our fireplace. But when you can sit and watch all of those that have come into the world through us, laughing, loving, sharing gifts and lives, one could not be more fulfilled in spite of life’s hardness. I tell God often, “I don’t know how we did it, how we got through all those years, or how our children got through all those years, but God you put things in us, and took things out of us, for our children’s benefit and well being.” It was us in partnership with God that molded our family.
It was a dark night through which the Bethlehem star shone through. We have had many dark nights when we could not make sense of life’s happenings, but there was always a light that shone through. Not in our timing, but His timing. Four of those stars are our children. Our lives are better because of them.
I hope your Christmas is around a tree experiencing family in your Christmas.


Okay, now everyone will consider me a Grinch. I want to write about puppies (maybe kittens too). This is the wonderful time of year during which we want to bring home really good gifts to make our loved one the most surprised and the happiest person. Especially our children. Oh how we love to see those eyes glisten, and the surmised smile widen, and maybe even some tears of happiness. In our home …Linda and I tried to achieve that level of excitement. And expense? We tend to spend more than we have just to make sure our children have an enthralling Christmas morning. We parents will even delay or forgo our own Christmas (gifts) so our children’s list is filled.
Saying all of that, I want to just mention that this may not be the best time to let a puppy jump out of a box. You don’t have to tell me how cute that furry friend is, I know. I know too well. That is why I post this reminder. Those eyes looking at you. That forehead and nose, those little teeth, that wagging tail, and that puppy breath, who can resist? And that is my point.
Too many puppies are bought on impulse. The purchase or adopting a pet should be a family decision. If you are planning to get a new puppy for Christmas, why not buy a plush puppy for the children with a promise that after the holidays “our family” is getting a new puppy.
Puppies are very impressionable. They also have fear periods. Can you imagine what a puppy would do on Christmas day? The noise, the rattling of paper, being yelled “no” to for everything it gets into. He starts to poop (from stress) and three people catch him, yell at him, someone scoops him up and puts him outside. Maybe the person rubs his nose in the poop so it will “know not to do that again.” Now the puppy pees submissively. Believe me, this puppy will now develop behaviors and issues that will require a behavioral specialist and possibly medication therapy as well. Just think it through.
If you have a question post it or contact me. I will later write about HOW TO BUY A PET, HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR A PET and HOW TO INSURE YOUR PUPPY LOVES COMING TO YOUR HOME.