Helping Hands: One Size Does Not Fit All

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Match-Making with Wes Boyd of Colorado Animal Rescue

Look at those furry faces! They are just impossible to resist!

Add in promises like “I—ll walk her every day!” or “We—ll scoop the poop before it even hits the box!” and it—s inevitable that you will surely take one home.   And, why not? Life IS better with a pet. A furry family member adds extra love and laughter, while teaching lifelong lessons about compassion and care. 

That—s it! You—re ready and the timing is right, but how do you make the right pick?  Especially when they are all so darn cute?

Putting the Forever in Forever Home

At Colorado Animal Rescue, matchmaking begins on day one.  Finding the right home for every pet, one that lasts beyond the promises of attentive care and the fun of summer hikes, is the ultimate goal.

A study by the American Humane Association found that one in ten pets adopted from a shelter were no longer in the home six months later. That—s a 10% rate of return to homelessness – a staggering number if put into human context.     

The key to success is understanding you, your family, and the needs of your new pet. Making a match that sticks is a priority and a welcome challenge at the shelter.

Getting to know you

The questions on an adoption survey at Colorado Animal Rescue (C.A.R.E.) serve to know you better, informing the decision making process, and increasing the likelihood of a successful adoption. The survey asks about your home environment, age and size of your family, and your available time for care. This helps us connect the right pet to your needs. Do you have the large fenced yard that a Husky will thrive in? Or, is your space better suited for a Chihuahua on the couch?  Or, maybe a cat will love lounging on your apartment patio?


Are you a dog or a cat person?

Some choices are obvious.  Many prefer the independence and occasional cuddle from a feline friend over the slobbery kisses and constant attention from a canine companion.  There—s no judgement here – we all have a favorite!  But, depending on your situation, there could be more to keep in mind when choosing the ideal species.

Dogs require more attention than cats. Dogs love companionship, stimulation, and exercise. They love a routine that involves activity and time with their favorite people. My dog Nash is visibly upset when he hasn—t had his daily trip to the dog park or a hike up Red Hill.  Thankfully, I love that time outside with him and we both benefit from our daily jaunts.  While the rewards for sharing your life with a dog are great, the commitment to daily care is a heavy consideration.

Cats are often more independent than dogs.  They can thrive living indoors and often set their own schedule for playtime and naps.  Bathroom trips are just down the hall and the requirement for a cozy bed is much smaller.  Sharing life with a cat may be more laid back, but it is certainly still fun.  Many love playing with toys and chasing bugs throughout the house, surprising you with their curiosity and love of activity.

That—s it, we—re adopting a dog!

While it may feel like the difficult part is over, the choices have just begun. Size, energy-level, type of fur, and age become big deciding factors. Will a high energy puppy be just the entertainment your family is looking for?  Or, will destruction and potty mistakes be too much for you to handle?

Canine Behavior Evaluation

At C.A.R.E, every canine resident receives a behavior evaluation to assess personality nuances, comfort with human interaction, and ability to get along with other dogs, cats, and even kids.  Imagine this as an interview for dogs. The process gives information on the right kind of home for each adoptable dog and is used to guide adopters towards a great match.

During the shelter—s “getting to know you” session, a dog may show they are tolerant of ear pulls and paw touching, indicating they may fare well with kids around. Other pups may demonstrate a preference for personal space or a calm environment.

C.A.R.E.—s canine behavior evaluation touches on other characteristics, including:
  • behavior around food and toys
  • comfort with strangers
  • experience walking on a leash
  • compatibility with young children
  • compatibility with other dogs or cats

When a shelter dog is ready for adoption, C.A.R.E. has suggestions for his/her ideal home. A larger, high energy dog may not be suited for a family with toddlers for the simple reason that they may often bump into them or knock them down. Is your home near livestock or wildlife?  A breed that has an innate tendency to herd or chase may not be a good pick. Like us, every shelter dog has their own unique personality and like us, they thrive when understood and appreciated for the just the dog they are.

Definitely a cat!

There is no established assessment that can truly encompass the many personalities of an adoptable cat. A cat—s history, however, and their general behavior with shelter staff can tell us a lot about the home that might be best for them. Depending on a cat—s unique story, the team at C.A.R.E. can make an educated guess about his/her accommodation of other cats, dogs, children and spouses in the home.  Luckily, cats have a knack for fitting in (and then taking over!) wherever they are. Appreciating and embracing their favorite way to do so will insure a forever friendship.

We have options…

If a cat or dog doesn—t quite fit into your family structure, don—t forget about bunnies, guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters, rats, turtles, and lizards (and more!) as viable options for an animal companion. These less prevalent, by no means less lovable, pets find themselves at the shelter too. Exotic pets can often be housed in a smaller habitat, require less time outside, and will still fill your heart with joy.

Your new pet—s health

When animals arrive at C.A.R.E., each is given a medical exam, vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and microchipped before being placed for adoption. In many cases, an adoptable pet from C.A.R.E. may have also been the recipient of a head-to-toe, full assessment of health provided through partnership with the Veterinary Technology Program at Colorado Mountain College. In addition, the veterinary team at C.A.R.E. provides dental cleaning for many animals in need.  These services amount to  a value of $750 – $1500 in medical savings, helping adoptive families cover some of the initial costs of pet ownership.

Post Adoption Support

You—ve made your match! Whether your new family member is a fiesty new puppy, a senior

cat, or even a ferret — post adoption support and guidance can make the difference in your success as a pet parent.

The staff at C.A.R.E. is ready to help, and is committed to the happiness of you and your pet. The shelter offers free canine behavior consults, group dog training courses, as well as ongoing friendship and advice. This applies to ANY pet, adopted recently or years ago, including those that weren—t originally adopted from the shelter.

Whether it—s a persistent negative behavior or an issue with potty training, the shelter staff can help you through it.

Ready, Pet, Go!

Ready for nose-to-nose cuddles and laughs?  Don—t let another day pass without finding your new furry friend. C.A.R.E. is there to help you make the perfect match and take them home, filling that space in your heart and theirs– forever.   


Article taken from Mountain Parent Magazine

Written by Wes Boyd, executive director of Colorado Animal Rescue

Portraits of C.A.R.E adoptable pets by Alison Hart, fine art photographer

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