I am thinking about adopting a dog from a rescue centre. I am 65 years old, recently retired, and love walking at a steady pace. Could you give me some advice on how to find my perfect dog?

Sue Gilmore advises…

With so many dogs in rescue shelters, you will have a huge choice. Although this means you have a great opportunity to ensure that you find the ideal pet, it can be daunting. The initial problem will be the appealing expressions on the dogs’ faces that will melt your heart and make the choice even harder!

I suggest you think about what you need in a companion dog and what you can offer. Large breeds need more room than smaller breeds.

All dogs end up in rescue centres for a reason; it may be that their owner moved into sheltered accommodation and could not take their dog with them, or the owner decided that the dog’s behaviour was beyond their ability to deal with it, so take time to find out as much as you can about any dog that may appeal to you. You must be prepared to spend time training a dog as well as implementing rules and boundaries.

Being fond of walking, your companion should be capable of walking for several miles, so a medium-sized breed that is not too powerful may fit the bill. Small breeds, such as terriers or spaniels, have bags of energy and will relish a decent walk or two every day.

It is important to ensure that any dog is medically fit enough to accompany you on your walks; some dogs end up in rescue centres as a result of an expensive medical condition that may have been too much of a demand on the owner’s income. It is worth thoroughly investigating the medical health of any dog that you choose.

Taking on a rescue dog is a commitment for life and as humans we often make an emotional rather than an objective decision. You must provide a balanced environment and fulfil the dog’s needs: water, food, medical care, shelter, exercise and training. It takes effort, but the rewards are great. In my experience, the relationships I have with my dogs are the best!

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