While adoption is all the rage in Hollywood, pulling a Madonna and adopting a third world baby might be a little extreme -- not to mention rather expensive. But never fear, you can indulge in your Hollywood ways by adopting a dog.
Rather than buying a dog from the pet store or a purebred from a breeder, adoption is a great way to feed your humanitarian side. Two of your main resources are the local Humane Society or pet rescue shelters. Both have an assortment of dogs that are available for adoption, and many of their dogs are typically of mixed breed which tend to have a calmer temperament. Among the many benefits that come with adopting from a shelter, is the comfort of knowing you are saving an animal from being put down (euthanized).
When adopting, many organizations such as the Humane Society, will interview you first. This is to make sure your home is a warm and loving environment for one of their dogs (or puppies). Also, most organizations will have already spayed or neutered the dog, and vaccinated it against certain diseases. However, there is an adoption fee or donation to help cover costs of running the shelter and to help pay for all the medical costs. If you have kids, definitely take them in for the adoption process -- it will be a fun and educational experience for them.
What if you are considering adopting a puppy? Yes, puppies are adorable, but they can end up being more work than adopting an adult dog. Adult dogs are calmer and will have already developed a personality, giving you the ability to handpick a dog that fits your needs, according to the staff's suggestions. An adult dog is also toilet-trained and has (hopefully) already been through its chew-on-everything-I-can-find stage. Some dogs can be very curious when you bring them into a new environment, though, so make sure all your valuables, chemical products, and other dangerous items are put away.
As you consider your options, remember that adopting a dog is a serious, long-term commitment. The kind of dog you choose should also reflect your lifestyle. If you are a busy person who works 18 hours days, you might not want a big dog that requires six walks a day; even with a dog walker, such a dog will not want to be cooped up all day long.
It takes a lot of work and a lot of love to raise a dog, but in return you get an unconditional best friend.
Image: Rob Swatski / via Flickr