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K9 Rescue

How to

Adopt a Dog


Phil Marcello


Text Copyright © May 2014 

Phil Marcello - All Rights Reserved.

Cover Copyright © May 4, 2014 Phil Marcello 

Cover Photo: A New Beginning by Phil Marcello


Dedicated to

My best friend Bear.  R.I.P.  January 2104



In Memory of

Joey my number one


Carrie and Draco




 Table of Contents

K9 Rescue – Saving a Dog’s Life

So why are you getting a dog?

Do you own a home or are you renting?

Adopting versus fostering

Who is going to be responsible for the dog?

Not all dogs are created equal

Not all dog rescues are created equal

Before you bring your dog home

Picking up your new dog

Feeding your pooch

Barron’s Rescue


K9 Rescue – Saving a Dog’s Life


The process of rescuing a dog can be a rollercoaster ride.  If you are prepared for this wonderful event, the hills and valleys will be a lot less intimidating.  In this book, I tell it all: the good, the bad, the beautiful and the funny.  It is based on my experience welcoming a fifty pound Australian Cattle Dog mix, named Barron, into his new home and his new life.  At the end of the how-to portion, I’ve added a diary of the first few weeks that I spent with Barron.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, let me tell you where I’m coming from.  I’ve owned dogs for more than forty years.  Two of them were German Shepherds, one was an Akita and the last, a Belgium shepherd by the name of Bear.  He passed away this past January at the age of fourteen.

My sister owns a dog boarding and breeding kennel in upstate New York.  I worked with her for the better part of twenty years.  I’ve handled thousands of dogs, assisted with the care of three litters of championship bound puppies, and assisted in the training of countless canines.

But, rescuing a dog is a unique experience with its own set of problems, some that are very similar to buying a puppy and some very different.  A lot of this book deals with matters that would benefit both prospective owners.

But, let me say outright, that I believe rescuing a dog is a more benevolent thing to do than just buying a dog.  Think about it.  You’re saving a life!

* * * * *


So why are you getting a dog?


So why are you getting a dog?  I hope it’s for a good reason, because you are undertaking a long term commitment.  You are also making a commitment to save a dog’s life.

After my Bear passed away, I swore that I would never get another dog.  I was so sure of this, that I tossed out everything that I had that was dog related.  This list included an array of grooming tools, two doggie beds, collars and leashes and, well you get the picture.

Being sixty two years old and working out of a home office can make for a very boring day.  When Bear was around, I rose at five thirty, got plenty of exercise, and always had a story to tell when friends or family dropped by.  At night, I felt safe and secure knowing that my trusty steed was on guard.  I had numerous friends at the park and beaches, but these relationships were built on a common thread of owning a dog. 

This may all sound a bit selfish, but I can assure you that Bear had a life that was the envy of any canine.  He had many and interests.  He spent countless hours tracking deer and varmints through wilderness trails.  I was by his side through the thickest of woods.  But my Bear was no predator.  He just liked to track.  When he got close enough to spot his quarry, he was done.

He loved to wade into the beach water until every part of him was covered, except his head.  Then he’d just walk and float along parallel to the beach.  During the winter, he would beg to go walking during a snow storm.  I never questioned his motives, I just dressed up as warmly as I could and headed out with him.  He was truly my best friend and I was his best friend.

A dog can be a great companion.  A dog can provide a lot of enjoyment and a good feeling of security.  She can help you to stay in shape and help you fill a void.

The pet you adopt may be for you or for another member of your family.  But, please, just keep in mind that somebody needs to be responsible for the health and welfare of your dog.

And, please keep in mind the dog’s perspective.  She deserves a good home where she’ll feel safe and comfortable. Your dog deserves to be happy.  Yes, happy.  Think about it, please.  Friendship is a two way street.  

It’s a wonderful sight, to see people walking, running and playing with their canine companions at the park.  They all look so happy.  You can see the enjoyment in their eyes and in their smiles.  And I’m talking about the faces of both the humans and the dogs.

But, when I see one of these fools walking along mindlessly, yanking on the leash, never letting the dog stop and sniff or check things out, I get angry.  I wish someone would put a leash on that human and yank them around for a while.  The dog has a life too.  Please respect your pet.

Just a side note.  I wrote a story entitled ‘A Dog’s View’ which deals with an abusive owner.  It’s one of many stories in a collection of horror and science fiction stories that my brother and I published.  The book is called ‘Nightmare Feast’.  I think you’ll find it interesting.

Here’s something else that you might want to think about.  Do you want a puppy or an adult dog or an older dog?  Adoptees come in all ages.  Through my search, I encountered an eight year old Akita and a ten year old Beagle.  There were many pups in their fourth, fifth and sixth year.  And of course there were countless numbers of canines under a year old.

I would like to have adopted them all, but of course I couldn’t.  And it is good to know that there are thousands of people out there looking to adopt.  The first two times I saw that elder Akita, I felt so sorry for him.  He was just so big.  There was no way that I could care for him.  But he was also as cuddly as he was big.  I swear, I was starting to weaken, but on my third trip to that kennel, he wasn’t there.  He had been adopted.  After that, I felt a lot better about the whole adoption process.

So, what do you want?  What are you prepared for? 

Puppies need a lot more attention.  They need to be house broken.  By the way, I hate that term.  I think many a dog has indeed been broken, by some stupid ways that people come up with to house train a dog.  Get a good puppy manual and be patient.  Don’t break your dog.

Puppies need all kinds of training and they need to be handled and played with a lot and, I do mean a lot. 

Please keep in mind, that a dog is not a toy.  You cannot just put her away, when you’re done with her.

Adult dogs need a lot more outside exercise time to stretch their muscles and keep their hips firm. 

Senior dogs still want to have a life but might prefer a quieter home and a more leisurely lifestyle; although my Bear, even at fourteen, loved to walk and walk and walk.

* * * * *


Do you own a home or are you renting?


You would not believe the number of people who surrender up their dogs to a shelter because their landlord will not allow them to have a dog.  I would guess that one third of the dogs in this country are owned by renters, which is great, but you must be intelligent about it.

Again, taking on a dog is a long term commitment.  If you believe that you will be moving in less than a year, you need to ask yourself, is this a good time to get a dog?

I sold my house six years ago, to live at a beach front cottage.  It was a rental.  I was trying to escape the rat race and there was no problem with my having a dog.  I even made sure that it was in the lease.  This location was not only great for me, but it was a wonderland for Bear.  At night, when all the tourist had gone home, Bear and I would roam the beaches for miles and miles.  He played in the water, chased the seagulls and climbed on the rocks.  He was one happy dog.

Unfortunately that place was just too small, so I started shopping around for a bigger place.  I only looked for places that would allow me to keep my dog, and he was a big one, a ninety pound Belgian Shepherd.  It took a bit of work, but I was prepared for it and I did succeed.  There was no way that I was going to just give up my dog because I wanted to move.  And the place I found was further up the beach, giving me more space but still close to the ocean.

There are more and more rentals and complexes that allow dogs.  So, if the need should arise, think, plan and find a new home for you and your canine companion.

Whether you own your home or rent, keep in mind that your dog will need exercise and a place to do his duty.  Yes, I’m going to use the term ‘duty’.  Is there a nice yard?  Is it fenced in?  Can it be fenced in?  Where are the places nearby that you can safely walk your dog?  I’m lucky.  My back yard has several acres of state owned land.  Down the street, in either direction, I have beaches and parks, including one that specifically invites dog walkers.

Taking daily walks is good for you and your dog.  Its great exercise and an opportunity to socialize.  I used to love taking my Bear, yes ‘Bear’, for a walk.  He was big, black and hairy; what would you call him?  I used to love taking my Bear to the park.  He had developed several long term friendships with both canines and humans.  Watching two dogs walking side by side, or chasing each other around is a site to see. 


* * * * *


Adopting Versus Fostering


This is probably a good time to mention that in addition to adopting a dog, you can also foster a dog.  If you really want a canine companion, but are unsure about your future, you might want to consider fostering a dog. 

Not all rescue organizations offer the ability to foster a dog, but some do.  Look around.

And while adopting is a long term commitment, and a commitment to saving a life, fostering is not a long term commitment, unless you want it to be.

Fostering a dog means taking an animal under your wing, to care for and to keep him or her safe and healthy until a ‘forever’ home comes along.

Fostering is also good for the pup as it puts her in a home environment, while she waits to be adopted.  You can assist with evaluating the adoptee for special needs or circumstances and insure that she doesn’t have any problems that might be detrimental to being adopted.

You can foster a dog for a short term or maybe long term and if something happens where you can no longer care for the dog, she can be moved to another foster home. 

Also, when you foster a dog, you help make room for the rescuers to bring in more dogs and God knows, there are a lot of dogs that need to be rescued.



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