When you decide to adopt a dog from a shelter, it is important that you choose a dog that will fit in with your lifestyle. There will be some dogs that are unsuitable due to their size, exercise requirements and your living arrangements, etc. But do try to keep an open mind, as often in shelters, the dog ends up choosing you. For example, you may think that a greyhound needs a lot of exercise, when in fact they are well known couch potatoes. With a greyhound it’s the size of your couch rather than the size of your backyard that is important.

Also, don’t forget about the golden oldies. Adopting a senior dog and providing him with love and comfort in his twilight years could be very rewarding for you both, and could indeed better suit your lifestyle.

Staff at shelters will provide you with all the relevant information about the dogs they have for re-homing. You will also be asked to provide information about your living arrangements, such as how many people live in your household, your working hours, children, other pets, etc. Most shelters will also want to perform a home check. This means that someone connected to the shelter, often a volunteer, will come to your house to inspect it to make sure it is adequate to care for a dog.

Once you have chosen a suitable dog, it is normally a requirement to make a donation to the shelter. This is usually a fixed fee and covers the cost of veterinary bills and neutering. Please remember that most shelters are run on donations only. Therefore, they will always be happy to receive donations, if not in monetary terms, then perhaps in bedding or dog food.

Some shelter dogs may need a little bit of rehabilitation time, but this should be no more onerous than training a new puppy, and in some cases a lot less work. All dogs are individuals and will come with their own set of challenges and rewards.

Shelter personnel are normally on hand to help you in the early days with any settling in issues you may have.

The same preparation is required for welcoming your shelter dog into your home as it would be for any new dog. You need to make sure that the basics are covered such as sleeping arrangements, feeding and water bowls, collar and lead, toys, grooming brushes and also details of your local vet.

When you choose to adopt a shelter dog, you are also making room at the shelter for other stray, abused or abandoned animals. Therefore when you adopt, you are in fact saving two lives or even three if you count your own. Dogs seem to have an uncanny ability to turn up in our lives just when we need them, even if we do not realize it at the time. Dogs always teach us something, usually the importance of enjoying the simple things in life and living totally in the present.

If you know of a local shelter where you live, share it with us in the comments below. Also, if a shelter dog has adopted you, please share your own experience with us. We would love to hear from you.