Hi, I'm Odo, I'm a 5 year old Aussie Shepherd. Karen and Gary adopted me from the pound in October of 99. They didn't want Lucky to be lonely, I guess!
Lucky is going to tell you the upside of people rescuing dogs, I'd like to talk to you about something even more important if you're looking for a dog, which is: choosing the right breed. Many people fall in love with the appareance of a particular breed - maybe even for the worst reason possible, because one was featured prominently in a movie or television show. I know, Dalmatians and their black and white spots are gorgeous, Collies are majestic, and many other breeds become popular because they look great. It's not a coincidence that many of these wonderful dogs, bought during the time the breed is especially popular, end up in animal shelters or in the care of their breed rescue [I don't even want to THINK of the worse things that happen to those dogs that don't make it that far] at a couple of years old. The timing is just about right for that wonderful adorable puppy to have grown up and developed enough behavior problems to have frustrated an owner who doesn't know what to expect.
Dogs aren't Furbys or Cabbage Patch Dolls. We still need love, affection, and proper handling after the fad for our breed dies down. We also stop being adorable puppies and become wonderful, loyal dogs if you give us a chance. But in order to become the wonderful dogs we can be, we need you to recognize that dog breeds are very different and each breed has different needs as far as exercise, lifestyle, and handling.
Karen always tells people that I'm a wonderful dog. I am. I'm gorgeous, my two different-colored eyes are unique, I'm very affectionate, and above all I am smart. All of these temperamental traits are important in a herding breed.These wonderful things don't come without some other qualities that are *also* important to a herding dog which don't make us the best couch potatoes or pets for people who are rather sedentary or aren't experienced dog owners.
As herding dogs, we have been bred to enjoy exercise and have good endurance. We like to run as much as we can get the chance to. An ideal family for an Aussie would have active adults and/or older children who could take the dog on a nice long walk or run more than once a day. I taught Karen and Gary about dog parks - I love it, because I can run as much as I want while they can stand around and talk with all the other people.
Because we were bred to *work*, we need jobs. We like to know what we're supposed to be doing and have the chance to help you. Aussies that get bored develop what you might consider destructive behavior rather easily. We need firm, consistent handling from someone who knows how to be in charge and not let us take over. We're among the smartest dog breeds, there's no doubt about that. But because we're smart we want to *use* that intelligence. We need owners that are willing to train us and keep up the training. This goes along with the point above - teach us things and use us, we're not dogs to be put out in the backyard and forgotten!
These are just a few examples of the issues you might come into when thinking about getting a dog. There are lots of dogs available and the right dog can be wonderful! However, let me urge you, before you step into that pound, kennel, or [shudder] pet shop, think through the following issues and do the research on what breeds have the temperament you *really* want. THEN choose for appearance from perhaps the best matches there.
1. Exercise/Activity - What level of activity, indoor and outdoors, can you accomodate? Easy access to a nice big backyard, walks, visits to the dog park, and doggy sports are all great ways to accomodate an active dog, but you have to make a commitment to regularity.