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My Pet World: Finding certain breeds in shelters

October 19, 2010|By Steve Dale

Q: I know you have a shelter puppy, Steve. Here's our problem: We've always had Newfoundlands. I want to adopt a shelter dog, but how do we find a Newfie? — V.D., Boston

A: You don't. Open your mind to getting something that's Newfie-like: just a large dog. Four years ago, we received a call from a friend at Animal Care and Control in Chicago about a litter of Australian Shepherd-type puppies, knowing we'd lost a dog several months earlier and that my wife and I liked Aussies. Well, I don't know what Ethel is, but she certainly didn't turn out to be an Australian shepherd. I doubt there's any Aussie in her but, of course, it doesn't matter one bit.

You clearly like larger dogs, so periodically check local shelters for big guys, or let your mouse do the walking at http://www.petfinder.com. You could also contact a Newfoundland rescue organization. Find a local rescue for any American Kennel Club breed at http://www.akc.org.

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Get into the spirit and adopt, especially now. October is the American Humane Assn.'s Adopt-A-Dog Month. Get lots of tips on dog adoption at http://www.americanhumane.org.

Q: We put off getting a dog until our kids got older. Now, one child is 11, and the other is 14. We went to three shelters and have looked on Petfinder.com. Frankly, we're overwhelmed. Any advice on adoption? — B.H.

A: If anyone should know, it's Betsy Saul, founder of http://www.petfinder.com. "It's overwhelming, I know," she says. "There are thousands of dogs available. Take a breath. And understand that taking your time is always best rather than pushing too hard and making an impulsive choice."

Saul says to first think about the kind of dog you're seeking, by breed. "Or a mix is fine, too, but do you prefer a herding-type dog — who may need a 'job' and an interactive owner — or a toy dog to cuddle with. It's not only about the type of dog you want, and size, but also about your lifestyle."

The Petfinder site has breed information. So do a lot of books, including "The Howell Book of Dogs," by Liz Palika (Wiley Publishing, New York, NY, 2007; $29.99).

Q: I am feeding a stray long-haired cat. The cat was skin and bones when I started. This is a friendly cat that even turns over to let me pet its stomach. It scratched me once, but I think that was a mistake. The cat seems fine with my Bichon-Poodle.

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