First and foremost, I think those of you who stick with my dog musing will realize, I like dogs. Period. All of them. The dogs pictured above are my pack. It's my daughter's fault there are six of them, by May we should be back to four, but for the moment, this is the gang. They are the barking, pooping, shedding testament that I am neither a breed snob or a rabid rescuer.
Most of my dogs have simply shown up. When there is a great big hole in my life only a dog can fill, one appears. I have learned to quit making deposits on the breed I've decided to own, because a stray, the polar opposite of the dog I researched, agonized over and saved up for, will show up within 24 hours after my deposit becomes non-refundable.
I am not a sucker for every dog who floats by, no matter what my dad, sibs, kid or husband tells you. I help them all, they don't all stay. Almost every one of my friends has been graced with at least one of my strays, to the point where if they hear me say, "I found this dog," they start screaming, plug their ears and run home.
Now that we're clear on things, I'll tell you the dogs I look for.
They are not breeds, although I have no problem if I end up with a specific breed, they are types.
There is a certain shape I am drawn to, a physical balance I like and specific man-made features I avoid. There are conformation faults I watch for. None of these (always remember Snocone) are deal breakers, but I make informed, conscious decisions when I say, "Oh well, welcome."
I like pretty, fluffy dogs.
I like terriers and herding dogs.
These are not must haves, but they are where I lean.
This is the SHAPE of dog I look for.
I was going to go to photoshop and make silhouettes out of them, in order to avoid weird arguments, but I figured, shoot, we're all grown-ups here. So I'm taking a huge chance at misinterpretation and showing examples of the dog shape I look for.
First off, I completely throw away the breed descriptions offered by shelters or owners. I ask after I've chosen.
There are specifics I avoid, for health reasons.
|tightly coiled tails can cause all kinds of health issues|
|Dogs that sit funny. I look for a correct, comfortable sitting position, like on the terrier. The spaniel's soft, floppy sit warns me there could be hip problems on the way.|
|crooked legs of any kind warn me of future vet bills|
|Smashed in faces. If it snores, wheezes and gasps, I don't want one.|
|Any dog that can fit a six-year-old child's head in it's mouth is more than I want to handle.|
|long backed dogs|
|Extreme sizes - shortened life spans make me sad|
Now I have a list of dogs who visually appeal to me. They are clean limbed, nicely proportioned dogs. Next, I evaluate who the dog is.
I look for polite, friendly dogs. I don't mind wariness or reserve, but I want the dog to be eager to get to know me without knocking me around. I avoid too much shyness or aggression.
This free video series from 3 Lost Dogs gives the easiest to understand insight to quickly evaluating a shelter dog that I've ever seen. Here's the link to the first video, I strongly suggest watching all three and reading the article they came from. http://youtu.be/ancU4GR6Gk0
Now I've got a much smaller list and I've done everything in my power to keep my impulses at bay. Until now, this is where I would let emotion take over and choose my favorite.
Now however, I have played with temperament evaluations and become a fan.
I'm sure there are others, but these have worked for me. These evaluations hold pretty much true, no matter what the breed.
The Volhard puppy test
and the B.A.R.C. test for teen and adult dogs.
I did a quick internet cruise through the Colorado Shelter Dog list and then added a few Petfinder faves. If I was dog hunting, here is a smattering of the dogs I would evaluate.
If I was BUYING a dog...which I would do if I had a reason. Even if the reason is only I really want one...
It would be one of these: