Southern Gentleman

Man’s (or Woman’s) Best Friend

By Bill DeJournett | Photography courtesy of

Selecting the right canine companion takes research and careful consideration. The DeSoto Animal Rescue Society can guide you in choosing the right fur-ever pet.

One of my favorite Southern authors, Willie Morris, was a dog person all his life. That was until a white male cat “adopted” him, resulting in the book My Cat Spit McGee. My experience was the opposite. I’ve always had cats and never thought myself much of a dog person, until I fell in love with a friend’s boxer-chow-retriever mix. It didn’t work out with the friend, but I still miss the dog. My friend got him from a no-kill animal rescue, similar to rescues where I have gotten several of my pets.
Animal rescue organizations are a great place to begin when looking for a fur-ever pet. Volunteers can guide you toward getting the right animal for your family or situation. One such facility is the DeSoto Animal Rescue Society, which offers a wealth of information on its website and facilitates adoptions.
“Having a dog in your life can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, so choosing the right dog for you and your family is important,” says Ruth Ann Hale, publicity chair for the DeSoto Animal Rescue Society. Hale recommends doing your research and asking a lot of questions. Be sure the organization you are adopting from is reputable to create a loving bond between you and your new dog.
When adopting a new dog, you need to consider several factors. Do you or members of your family have any allergies that would be exacerbated by a new dog? What kind of lifestyle do you and your family lead that could potentially affect the time and attention you can give to the dog? Do you have children? Does your yard have a fence? Do you live in an apartment? All these should be taken into consideration when selecting a companion.
“Allergy sufferers might want to consider dog breeds that shed less, such as poodles, schnauzers, Bison Frise, and Maltese,” says Hale. “The length of the dog’s hair is not related to how much it sheds, so longer-haired dogs should not be dismissed. There are other breeds that may also work, so people with allergies should do their research before getting a pet.”

For lower-maintenance dogs, Hale recommends breeds that require less grooming and are less active, such as beagles, golden retrievers, dachshunds and greyhounds.
Many dog owners in Mississippi are also avid hunters. Carefully consider what kind of dog would be best in the field.
“I live around a lot of people who have hunting dogs,” says Brett Arave, president of Desoto Animal Rescue. “You’d want to visit someone who has them. You want a breed that is proven from a breeder who is proven. Just like police dogs, you’d want a breed that is suited for that. It also depends on what type of hunting you want to do.”
At DeSoto Animal Rescue, the adoption process includes a trial period. “We copied this from Best Friends Animal Society in Utah,” Arave says. “They do what they call a ‘sleepover,’ which is basically a trial period. We do it for a week typically. That allows the dog (or cat) to get used to the situation and feel that ‘this is where I’m going to be’ so that the dog’s personality comes out and people get used to the way the dog is.
“A lot of times we can feel that ‘this dog is just not warming up to [the family] or is not comfortable.’ That’s the best way to find if the fit is correct, just to give it a shot. With no expectations, if it doesn’t work out, we tell our adopters, ‘no harm, no foul, we’ll come get them.’ We just want to make sure it’s the right place.”
Arave offered tips for helping foster parents transition dogs into their new home. “There are several types of different foster situations. We have people who have one dog and that’s what they’re fostering. You’d want to ease them in, just like you’d ease them into a home. Bring them in and let them adjust to the situation and ease them into whatever valuables or people are in the house and see how they do. You have to give them their space.”
According to Hale, thousands of pets end up in shelters each year because potential pet parents fail to consider what type of pet or breed is the best fit when making their selections.
“Don’t choose a dog just because it’s a cute puppy, only to find a few months later it is knocking down your toddlers by accident in its playful state,” says Hale. “Is a puppy right for you or would a senior dog be more in line with your needs? Seniors are often overlooked but have much love to give without the new owner having to go through the puppy stage.”
With careful consideration, you can make a canine companionship that will last the dog’s lifetime.

Read More in DeSoto Magazine online.