Newbie’s guide to puppy-handling

Before adopting, it’s important to decide breed, time restraints, animal care for puppies’ well-being



Zoey, a Miniature Australian Shepherd, runs the ball back to her owner after enjoying a game of fetch.

HALLE LONG, Evergreen reporter

Taking a new pet into your home for the first time can be daunting, but the resources available for new dog owners are numerous.

Carly Borba, adoptions manager of the Whitman County Humane Society and recent WSU graduate, oversees adoptions at the local animal shelter. Borba said she recommends those interested in adoption to visit the shelter and meet the animal they are interested in.

“It’s different just seeing a picture of them and actually getting to know them,” Borba said.

Jo-Lynn Reno, a lifelong dog-lover and vet technician since 1976, stressed the time and responsibility that accompanies caring for a dog.

“You have that pet for their entire life, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that they’re cared for and get the proper treatment their entire life,” Reno said.

She also suggested researching what kind of breed would fit with your lifestyle, particularly for young college students strapped for time.

“It’s a huge responsibility,” Reno said. “You have to take it outside, you have to socialize it, you have to care for it, you have to get its vaccinations, you have to have to bathe it — I mean, I barely have time.”

One of the best ways to avoid behavioral problems like aggression or anxiety surfacing later in life is to socialize and train the dog, Reno said.

Walks and exposing the animal to all different types of people and experiences — such as taking them to a dog park or taking them for a ride in the car — are excellent ways to socialize the animal, Reno said.

She said one of her favorite places to take her dogs is Sunnyside Park.

Grooming, bathing and brushing the animal are also important aspects of animal care, Reno said.

Both Reno and Borba recommended daily walks, although each suggested caution when the weather is extreme.

Borba said the adoption process at the shelter will begin with a simple questionnaire that asks questions like, “What traits are you looking for in a dog?” and “What will you do if you move to a new home that does not allow pets?”

The shelter will also ask for proof of residency, Borba said. In the case of rentals, a staff member will ask to speak to the landlord about their pet policy.

Borba said staff members will then talk to the interested party about the animal and his or her ability to care for it. They will discuss behavioral concerns, monetary expenses, medical history, hours a day the person will be gone and similar matters.

Many animals are ready to go home the same day, Borba said. However, if the animal is not big enough to spay or neuter, or the shelter is waiting to get a fecal sample back, it may take longer.

All animals adopted from the shelter are required to be spayed or neutered, Borba said. Only in rare exceptions does the shelter allows an animal to leave without being fixed.

In the case that the dog isn’t the right fit for the person, there is a 30-day return policy. If the person returns the animal during this time, he or she will receive a full refund. If the 30 days has passed, the animal can still be returned but the adoption fee may not be refunded.

“We do urge people to use that 30 days to the extent just because we want them to kind of give the animal a chance, give themselves a chance because it can be very stressful for someone to bring an animal into their lives,” Borba said. “But it’s also very stressful for the animal, too.”

The shelter offers a special deal called Two-for-Tuesday, Borba said. Through this deal people can adopt two animals of the same species for the price of one on Tuesdays.

After adoption, Borba assured there are many resources in place to make the transition smooth, including several local veterinary clinics and training centers.

When asked what she thought was the most rewarding aspect of owning a dog, Reno said, “The unconditional love, no matter what. All you have to do is pick up your puppy and … they’re always happy to see you.”