The Ultimate Adoption Guide

2021年11月28日 | 16-MIN READ

The Ultimate Adoption Guide

THE ULTIMATE ADOPTION GUIDE


By Kopal Manglik


Animal lover and freelance writer, Kopal started the Facebook and Instagram page, @adoptdontshop.hk as a way of collating information about rescues available for adoption from all the shelters across Hong Kong, and has helped dozens of potential adopters find their paw-fect match! As a foster mama herself, Kopal has helped foster and successfully home 10 pups over the last year, and started the Hong Kong Foster Pawrents group to help others learn about fostering. When not involved in animal advocacy, Kopal is an avid reader and coffee lover, and you can find her looking for sunny spot to work in. 

The Ultimate Adoption Guide

So you’re thinking of adopting a dog? First – YAY! This is going to be one of the craziest yet most rewarding experiences of your life.

Next - there’s a ton to think about and consider, so here’s a list for everything you need to do before bringing your new pup home. 

 

Step 1: Are you ready for a dog? 

Adopting any pet is bringing a new life into your world, and so it is imperative that you carefully think about your current and future situation before committing. Especially if you are adopting a pup, that is almost 12-15 years of responsibility that can’t just be ignored. So consider about the following questions:

The Ultimate Adoption Guide Step 1 Are You Ready for a Dog?

Is your current space suitable for a pet? If so, what size? A lot of Hong Kong apartments may not allow animals or dogs of a certain size. Confirm with your building or landlord. Additionally, while even medium to large size dogs are okay in Hong Kong apartments as long as they get sufficient exercise, the area of your home will make a difference in what size of dog you’re able to adopt. 

 

Are you able to cover the financial costs of adopting a dog? In addition to food, you need to add costs of vet, grooming, walking and travel. And if you’re going to be spoiling your pup with toys and treats, which we’re sure you will! The costs add up, with pawrents spending anywhere from HK$500 to HK$2000 on their furry friends. 

 

Does your lifestyle allow you to properly care for an animal? Your working hours, social life, and travel preferences can all have an impact on your ability to provide the attention, walks and entertainment a dog requires. While this also differs from breed to breed, in general dogs need 2-3 walks a day, not just to relieve themselves but also in order to use up their energy. Several dog owners that work full time have helpers or dog walkers that help them take care of their beloved pups when they are at work. And if you are travelling extensively, you would need to find a dog sitter or kennel, and Hong Kong has many options, but the costs can quickly add up. Also, if you are getting a young pup, you definitely need to be around as much as possible, as during this early age, they need a lot of attention and training to ensure they’re properly taken care of. One option is always to adopt an older dog, that may be better trained and has lower energy bursts. 

The Ultimate Adoption Guide Step 1 Are You Ready For a Dog 2

Are all the family members on board? It is too often that a pup is bought because the child is begging, and the parents give in, but are not able or willing to put in the effort to raise the dog. A dog is not a toy, but a long commitment. Have long, careful conversations with your family members, including if you have a helper, to find out if anyone is scared, allergic or just dislikes dogs. Having everyone on board also helps when distributing chores such as feeding, grooming, training or walking, so that the burden doesn’t fall on one person. 

 

Do you plan to move away from Hong Kong in the upcoming years? There has recently been a huge increase in dog abandonments as people are moving away from Hong Kong and unable to take their dogs due to various reasons. So if there is even a slight inkling that you might be moving soon, please think about if you’re able to take your dog with you. Countries  such as Australia and New Zealand are particularly hard and most others require some sort of quarantine. 

 

If after asking yourself these questions, you are not sure you are able to take care of a dog,  don’t worry! One way to find out is to foster. Having a dog in your house for a short period of time is a wonderful opportunity to see if they would fit in with you and your lifestyle, and if you’re able to provide for their needs. Check out the Hong Kong Foster pawrents page to find out more!  And if you’re lucky, you can join the very special group of foster fails! 

 

Step 2: Choosing the right type of dog for you

A dog is a lifelong commitment, and while they may just be a small part of your lives, you are their whole life. So when choosing the type of dog, you should be incredibly thoughtful that you can meet all their needs. 

The Ultimate Adoption Guide Step 2 Choosing the Right Type of Dog For You

Following on from Step One, the questions to think in more detail about include:

What size should my dog be? While Hong Kong apartments are on the smaller size, a medium (or even large!) sized dog can do just fine if they get enough exercise.  It is definitely attractive to have a smaller dog that you can just pop in your bag and carry around our increasingly dog friendly city but there are a ton of equally loving and friendly dogs of other sizes that are looking for a loving home. Overall, the recommendation is to stay flexible about size and work closely with the rescue or shelter you are adopting from to find the right fit. 

 

How old should my dog be? This is another one where everyone thinks they want a young pup, full of energy who is ABSOLUTELY adorable, but flexibility on age can also really open up your options of great dogs. As mentioned above, young ones require a lot of energy and monitoring, especially through their teething and house training stages. You will need to invest a lot more time to ensure they don’t have accidents and are getting good training. But it is also really nice if you have a young child, for them to grow together, and it is also a “clean slate”, so that all the bad habits they learn are directly from you!  Adult dogs on the other hand are usually house trained and also have basic training, and of course, much less of the crazy puppy energy. Also as they are older, you would know more about their personality and health issues, so you know a bit more about what you’re getting yourself into.  And of course if you are able to provide a retirement home for a much older dog, they might not be with you for as long, but they will give you all the love in the world while they are. 

The Ultimate Guide to Adoption Step 2 Choosing the Right Type of Dog for You

What are the health requirements of my dog? In addition to the general well-being requirements of a dog including good food, key vaccinations, neutering and regular check-ups, dogs can have health requirements just like any human. From the general cold and cough to diabetes to dog specific illnesses such as the parvovirus, you need to ensure that you are able to cater to their needs. Certain dogs, especially many that are abandoned to rescues come with a host if illness such as heartworm, broken limbs or even cancer. Taking in such an animal can increase the costs of vets and treatment substantially but several times, otherwise the dog acts completely normally. You could be changing a dog’s life that would otherwise be overlooked for adoption. One such example is Ned from Hong Kong Dog Rescue. He has megaesophagus, which means the food doesn’t go down to the stomach naturally so Ned has to sit upright during and after meals. Other than some extra work during mealtime, where he has to sit in his specially designed Bailey Chair, Ned is a completely regular, happy puppy – ready to go to his furever home! 

What breed of dog should I adopt? When most people think about getting a pet, they probably have a specific breed in mind. The big friendly Golden Retriever, to the foxy Shiba Inu, to the cuddly little teacup poodle, are just some of the most popular breeds in Hong Kong. Yet, as mentioned in our article about the benefits of adoption, it is evident that we believe that a breed doesn’t define a dog. While there are pedigree dogs available for adoption every once in a while, they are often abandoned mums who have been breeding for all their lives or dogs with behavioural or health issues. While there is no right or wrong answer, keeping an open mind when it comes to the type of dog is perhaps the best way to find not just a breed, but a companion! 

 

Overall, the key to choosing a dog is being flexible, whether it is their size or breed or even age. Those working at dog shelters have extensive experience of matching people with their furry companions, so it’s best to let them help you! But do have these conversations with your family or the others who are adopting with you. Making sure everyone is on board will ensure an easier ride when you’re going through the adoption process. 

 

Step 3: What you need to prepare 

So you’ve decided you’re ready for a dog and have thought about what size/age/breeds work for you. The next step is to get your house ready to bring in your newest family member! 

The Ultimate Adoption Guide Step 3 What You Need to Prepare

Things you need to buy:

  • Food: Perhaps the most important thing, and finding the right fit for your dog can be hard. We obviously love the buddy bite kibbles, and it comes in puppy, adult lamb and adult duck flavours for the picky pups! They also ensure that your dogs get all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need. Plus they deliver straight at home on a regular schedule AND feed dogs in shelters, so it’s a win win win! 
  • Food and Water bowls:  This might be obvious but it’s the number one thing that will make your new pup feel at home. Ideally setting it up in a constant location so that they know where to find their food and nourishment. Usually dog bowls come in stainless steel or ceramic dishes which are easy to clean. Also, make sure it’s the right size for your dog, they are able to reach their food and water. Also if you’re worried about things getting dirty, you can also get a plastic mat to keep underneath. 
  • Bed: a comfy, cosy bed can help a dog feel at home in their new house so it's super important to have one when they first come in. There are a ton of options but the basics are that it should be cushioned and teeth proof. If your dog has special needs you can also find orthopaedic dog beds
  • Toys: This one is a no brainer, but you need a number of toys to keep your dog entertained. Must haves include chew toys, balls and rope (tug of war) toys. If you are getting a young pup that’s just been separated from its littermates and mum, a heartbeat toy is also a good idea! 
  • Collar/ Harness: There is tons of research about which collar or harness to choose for your dog. Harnesses are highly recommended for smaller dogs and puppies.  Having witnessed a number of dogs wriggle out of them, we recommend having both if you are out and about, especially in new areas. Also it's worth considering a GPS locator if you plan to do many hikes and explorations. Definitely do not choose a choke, chain or prong collars as not only are they restricting, they can also severely hurt your dog. 
  • Leash: You will also need a leash for when you are going out, and it’s a good idea to get different lengths for different activities. And if you are hoping to train your dog to eventually go off-leash, a long line is a great in-between during that period. 
  • Pee pads/ poo bags: Depending on the age and training of your dog, you will either need indoor pee pads or outdoor poo bags. For puppies that are not fully vaccinated, they are not able to go on walks yet, so you should have pee pads, newspapers or an indoor toilet ready. If your dog is already toilet trained, make sure to carry a water bottle (the ones with nozzles that you can squeeze are the best) and poo bags (ideally biodegradable). This is both required by the Hong Kong law, it also just makes you a good citizen. 
  • Grooming equipment: Again, depending on your dog, specifically their coat, you will need a brush for regular home grooming. Nail clips or scratch boards are another great requirement 
The Ultimate Adoption Guide Step 3 What you need to prepare

Things you need to prepare: 

  • Puppy proofing: One of the most important tasks before bringing an animal, especially a pup home is to remove any valuables or things that can be destroyed or can harm your new best friend.  So be sure to put away anything that is easily accessible by mouth or tail! – decorations on coffee tables, remote controls, vases etc. 
  • Wires and electricals: To ensure that your pup doesn’t chew through them and is not harmed, as oral burns and electrocution are possible; tape up, hide or elevate all wires and electrical items. They should be out of your dog’s reach. 
  • Check your houseplants: Certain houseplants can be poisonous to dogs, or your dog can just get in them and make a mess! Aloe Vera and Lilies are some common houseplants that can be toxic, especially for a young pup. For a comprehensive list, check this out
  • Towels and Newspapers: Be sure to prepare lots of towels and newspapers, as accidents are likely to happen in the first few days during the settling in period 

While a lot goes into the preparation process, and it can feel overwhelming, don’t be discouraged. Everyone makes mistakes, and you will learn and grow with your new dog! 

 

Step 4: Meeting the dog! 

So you’ve gone through our (extensive!) checklist, have discussed in detail with our family, and are prepared mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. It's finally time to head to the shelter and meet some dogs! Most Hong Kong Shelters require you to fill out the adoption form before heading to the shelter, so that they have the information necessary to make the correct match. Yes, there are times when they aren’t immediately responsible, but remember, these are mostly volunteer run organizations, and can often be overwhelmed by applications, especially if it’s for a specific pup. Also, follow the shelters on Facebook and Instagram, if you are looking for a specific breed, size or age, they often post information there. For a comprehensive overview, you can follow @adoptdontshop.hk on Instagram and Facebook. You can also check out my weekly pupdates for Localiiz. For a list of shelters, see below.

The Ultimate Adoption Guide Step 4 Meeting the Dog

Meeting the dog – When you are finally invited to the shelter and are meeting the dogs, here are some things to assess

  1. See their initial response to you vs how they interact with regular volunteers or staff – While a lot of dogs are immediately excited to see a new human and so you’re most excited to take them home, most take time to warm up. If they are a bit aloof with you at first, but are wagging tails and smiley faces with their known persons, you know that they will eventually open up to you. 
  2. Visit more than once – some but not all rescues require multiple visits before an adoption is confirmed, and with older dogs that is definitely a good idea. Take them out for a walk, play with them, introduce them to your kids and other members of the family. This will help them get to know you, and you, them — so that when you do eventually take them home, it’s not a huge scare! 
  3. Ask if they’ve been fostered, or been in a home before - This is usually a good indicator to see if they will do well in a home, and especially the type of home. 
  4. Offer food – if possible, you can ask the staff if you can offer them a treat, to see how they react, if they have any basic training or if they show food guarding instincts.
  5. Adoption trial – some, but not all shelters offer adoption trials. This might be particularly necessary if you have another dog already. Do request it if possible as it would allow both you and the dog some time to adjust and become comfortable. 

Ultimately, you can only glean so much from a short visit, and the staff at the shelter know these dogs intimately. So do take their advice into consideration before selecting a dog. 

The Ultimate Adoption Guide Step 4 Meeting the Dog

Meeting the dog – When you are finally invited to the shelter and are meeting the dogs, here are some things to assess

  1. See their initial response to you vs how they interact with regular volunteers or staff – While a lot of dogs are immediately excited to see a new human and so you’re most excited to take them home, most take time to warm up. If they are a bit aloof with you at first, but are wagging tails and smiley faces with their known persons, you know that they will eventually open up to you. 
  2. Visit more than once – some but not all rescues require multiple visits before an adoption is confirmed, and with older dogs that is definitely a good idea. Take them out for a walk, play with them, introduce them to your kids and other members of the family. This will help them get to know you, and you, them — so that when you do eventually take them home, it’s not a huge scare! 
  3. Ask if they’ve been fostered, or been in a home before - This is usually a good indicator to see if they will do well in a home, and especially the type of home. 
  4. Offer food – if possible, you can ask the staff if you can offer them a treat, to see how they react, if they have any basic training or if they show food guarding instincts.
  5. Adoption trial – some, but not all shelters offer adoption trials. This might be particularly necessary if you have another dog already. Do request it if possible as it would allow both you and the dog some time to adjust and become comfortable. 

Ultimately, you can only glean so much from a short visit, and the staff at the shelter know these dogs intimately. So do take their advice into consideration before selecting a dog. 

Hong Kong Shelters

Catherine’s Puppies

Hong Kong Dog Rescue

Lifelong Animal Protection 

Kirsten’s Zoo

Paws United Charity

Hong Kong Animal Adoption Centre

Society for the Prevention & Cruelty of Animals

Love Fluffy Home

Tails Lantau

Villa Kunterbunt Lantau

Hong Kong Paws

Sai Kung Stray Friends

HK Paws Guardian

Kelly’s Animal Shelter

Hong Kong Saving Cats & Dogs

Society for Abandoned Animals

 

Step 5: Let's go home!

It's finally time to bring your dog home!

The Ultimate Adoption Guide Step 5 Taking Your Puppy or Dog Home

For the ride home, depending on the dog size, you may need a travel bag or a collar and leash, which the shelter may provide. As you would be required to take the dog back in a car or taxi, please also carry wet wipes and tissues, as they can often get car sick, and are probably a bit scared. 

 

For many dogs, the shelter is all that they’ve ever known, so any transition can be scary. The 3days/3weeks/3months adjustment period is what is often suggested so do give yourself, and your new pup, time and care. The first night is probably the hardest, but you will get through it! Decide where you want the dog to be, and set up their bed, water and food bowl, toys etc there. 

 

Whatever challenges you may face, don’t worry – you have made a great decision. Probably the best one in your life! Happy Paw-renting ☺