From Homeless to Homestead: Adopting a Farm Dog

Consider a trip to your local animal shelter or rescue organization next time you’re on the lookout for a new country canine.

  • With some care and patience, your new dog will probably settle in and become "one of the pack" in a few weeks.
    Photo by Getty/kozorog
  • For a smooth transition, keep your new dog leashed the first few times you introduce it to other animals on your homestead.
    Photo by Getty/LexaAdams
  • Good dogs deserve a good home, and your homestead deserves a good dog. Visit a local shelter and start looking for your next country canine.
    Photo by Getty/lisegagne
  • Look for a dog with an energy level that's matched to the job you want them to do.
    Photo by Getty/burroblando
  • Invest some time and energy into a shelter dog, and you may decide that your new favorite breed is "rescue."
    Photo by Adobe/inna_astakhova

You’ve decided it’s time to get a dog for your homestead. You know what you expect your new dog to do for you, be it companionship, security, herding, or vermin control; and, most likely, you know what breed of dog you want. But before you start looking for a breeder or visiting pet stores, there’s another option to consider: You can give a dog a second chance, a new home, a new job, and a new pack to call its own. You can adopt a rescue dog.

Finding the Right Dog

America’s animal shelters are full of good dogs in need of good homes. Before you buy a puppy, visit a shelter or two and see who’s waiting to meet you.

Financially speaking, adopting a shelter or rescue dog usually costs a good deal less than a pet store or breeder-supplied puppy. Adoption fees typically run from $75 to $350, and often include vaccinations, a veterinary checkup at the shelter, and spaying or neutering. That’s a fraction of the cost of “that puppy in the window,” which may set you back $1,000 or more.

When you visit the shelter, be open and frank about your expectations in a dog. Tell the shelter attendants about your homestead, what needs you expect the dog to fulfill, and the accommodations you plan to provide. Paint a picture of your family and pets, your livestock and poultry, and the landscape of your property. Is your land fenced in? Will your dog be an inside dog or an outside dog? Who will be working with the dog, and how often? Tell them what breeds you’re interested in. (One in every four shelter dogs is purebred, and most mixed breeds have easily recognizable parent breeds.)

“While it’s OK to have an idea of what kind of dog you’re looking for, you should also keep an open mind, as you never know what kind of dogs will be available. Maybe you’ll come across something that you either don’t know about or never thought was for you,” says Kim Siar, former interim shelter operations manager at the Humane Society of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.

Ask the attendants about the dog’s medical history. Most dogs available for adoption have already been spayed or neutered, and if not, many shelters will either help defray the cost or pay for it outright.

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