Q. I am looking for a dog that is best for my lifestyle. I am 18 years old and I live in a huge two bedroom apartment by myself. My neighborhood is nice, but I would love a dog to keep me company. I have lived with dogs growing up and I’ve had my fair share of working with and training them, but now it’s time for me to find a pet of my own. I am or will be going to an online college so I will be home with the dog and I work about 4 to 8 hours a day or on random days at my part-time job, so I will be there for my pet. I just can’t seem to find the right breed that fits me. I am not a true athlete but I do enjoy walking some great distances and I enjoy rollerblading and bike riding. I really enjoy the purebred breeds more than the mutts. Can you please help me figure out which breed is right for me?
A. Naturally, my first inclination is to tell you to adopt a rescued dog and save a life. Your local animal shelter will have many dogs for you to choose from and will help you make the right selection. There are a few things that you should keep in mind before you bring a dog home. First, make sure that there are no provisions in your lease that would prohibit you from having a dog. In addition to checking the lease, you should speak to the landlord and make sure that having a dog is all right. Once you know that you can bring a dog home, I would suggest that you visit a couple of animal shelters and rescue groups to find a dog best suited for you. They will have professional counselors that can help you find a dog. Since adopting a dog can be a 15-year commitment, it’s best to plan for the long term. Think about where you see yourself five years from now and how the dog will fit into your lifestyle. Since you are active, I would suggest a dog that has a moderate to high energy level since the dog will get plenty of exercise with you. Mixed Breed dogs or Muttigrees as we call them, can be a wonderful choice, especially Retriever mixes, Shepherd mixes, Husky mixes and Boxer mixes. Think about whether you would want a puppy or adult dog. There are benefits to either choice. The nice thing about adopting an adult dog is that what you see is what you get. No surprises with regard to the size of the dog and if you spend enough time with the dog and ask the counselors the right questions, you will be able see and understand the temperament of the dog. The dog will be past the chewing stage and will have the ability to be easily housetrained.