An unpredictable adventure
“A dog is a man’s best friend.” This phrase, however cliché, rings true for many people who have chosen to adopt a dog into their family. Finding a dog is an intimidating ordeal, but not one that members of the American High School community have been unable to tackle.
Many of those at American High can attest to how much their dogs have brought to their lives. Ms. Nauss, a Social Studies teacher here at American, gives us a little insight into her dog Blue’s character. “I think Blue as a puppy was just very intelligent from the beginning. She was like a miniature child wrapped into a dog’s body,” Ms. Nauss describes.
Other dogs in the American High community, such as Angelle Mercado’s white fluffy dog Dior, are full of excitement and joy. “When I get home from school, she jumps up at us and jumps up at our legs and she’s really excited. She’s also really attached to everyone in our family, so she’s really loving like that. But overall she’s just really energetic,” Mercado reflects.
But Ms. Nauss’s dog Blue definitely has a rebellious streak as well. “I realized at an early age that she watches TV,” Ms. Nauss explains. “She would just watch television while I did my homework in the living room. And then she got older and just progressively got smarter. I had taught her to hit the back door of our door to go to the bathroom. And that’s how she would tell me she needed to go out. And so then it became, she would just sit there and stare at you and hit it [the door] over and over again even if you’d already gone out because she understood how the system works. So that’s kind of Blue in a nutshell, she’s very good at getting you to do what she wants to do.” Lively and even a bit manipulative, it seems that Blue truly did start off as a “miniature child” and can be a bit of a handful sometimes.
Ms. Nauss found Blue at a breeder. While most people find their dogs at rescues or animal shelters, there are some definite benefits in adopting through a breeder as well. “My experience is that if you have a really knowledgeable breeder, they can really kind of pair you with the dog that is best for you. And I’ve seen that out of Blue’s breeder. Blue’s breeder has done a phenomenal job of matching the temperament of what she sees out of these puppies to what a couple may want,” Ms. Nauss explains. For people who don’t have much experience with dogs, going through someone like Blue’s breeder, who has plenty of experience interacting with both dogs and their owners, can help ensure a better personality match.
After talking about her experience with Blue, Ms. Nauss described how she found her other two dogs, Sammy and Arya. She explains how most rescues use foster families to take care of the dogs before putting them up for adoption. “They go into homes in those families who spend an enormous amount of time with them, so they usually can have a better idea of a temperament rather than a breeder who may be in it more for the money aspects,” she says. Since breeders often have many dogs to take care of, it may be easier to judge a dog’s personality if you can talk to the family who fostered it. It seems as though Ms. Nauss has had positive experiences with both breeders and rescues, and the common thread has been talking to someone who is truly knowledgeable about the dogs and their dispositions.
Tessa Castellana, a senior at American High, also found her dog Sylvia at a rescue. Her process of finding the perfect match was a little more straightforward. “My sister was talking about getting a dog, [so] my parents were like ‘okay, well let’s go look at dogs for fun,’ so we just went to the nearest [rescue] that we found. We weren’t actually planning on getting her first [but] we saw her, and we were like, we need to take her home.’”
While rescues and breeders are the most popular ways to find a dog, some members of the AHS community have found more unconventional means to find dogs. Angelle Mercado found her dog on Craigslist. “[My mom] was really thinking about getting a dog and she usually looks at the official pet websites—I think it’s Petfinder she usually goes to—but they’re really expensive. Some of the dogs can go for $1,000 and adoption fees. So she would go look on Craigslist,” Mercado says. “I think it’s also because my brothers have allergies to dogs. My mom really wanted to find a really specific hypoallergenic dog, and those can be really expensive.” And though finding a dog through Craigslist can be seen as unusual, it truly worked out for Angelle and her dog Dior. “The family [who previously owned Dior] had become really busy and they already had two or three dogs not counting her, and they just said that they couldn’t manage her, so they had to give one of them away,” Mercado explains. Dior needed a home and Mercado’s family needed a hypoallergenic dog. It just so happened that they found each other through Craigslist.
Finding a dog to add to your family is not always a clear or straightforward process. That being said, the dog owners of American High do have some advice for those looking to find a new furry companion. Ms. Nauss’s main advice was to find a dog who would complement your lifestyle and priorities. “My advice would be to think about the lifestyle you have, and what kind of dog would fit that lifestyle. I have an active lifestyle. And so I have a dog that runs with me. She enjoys running, and that’s a big way to get her energy out because she’s a high energy dog. So if you’re looking to get a dog that has a bit more high energy, German Shepherds, Dobermans, cattle breed dogs like Australian shepherds–you need to have a high active lifestyle. You have to commit to the park every day. You have to commit to these physical needs of the dogs. For me, Goldendoodles don’t have that. So when I was in college, it was really easy to have her in my apartment because she was low maintenance, and they were designed to be low maintenance.” She strongly supports rescues but also recognizes that “if you are rescuing, these dogs do come from various backgrounds,” which can make them a little more difficult to care for. Castellana recalls how her rescue dog “was really defensive over food” when they got her. Ms. Nauss’s dog had similar difficulties. “My first rescue came from the back streets of Kansas City and really bad neighborhoods, so she was afraid of all sounds. Being really understanding and being committed to work through those social emotional needs are really important,” Ms. Nauss reflects.
Mercado also has a few parting words of wisdom. “I think getting a dog from a shelter is the best idea because they’re dogs that are in need. But I think just keeping your heart and mind open to dogs [is important]… sometimes dogs will come to you in the weirdest places,” she advises.
Castellana’s advice, accompanied by a laugh, was the simplest: “Be prepared for unexpected stuff to happen.”