Meet Chloe. She’s a 10-12 month mixed breed that we adopted from Animal Control last Thursday. The family (especially the kids) is excited to welcome her into our home. The only exception is the cats, who are a little perturbed about Chloe invading their space. But they seem to be adjusting.

There are a few things I’ve learned (and many things I still have to learn), as we’ve gone from considering a dog to adopting a dog. Sometimes spending a little money up front will save on expensive vet bills down the line.

1. Take your time making the decision. We first started considering a dog when we signed the papers to buy our house last year. We didn’t want to rush into it, though, and ultimately decided to get through our first winter in our new home, before we added a dog to the family.

2. Understand how much time and work a dog will take. We’ve owned a dog before, so we had a pretty good idea of how much responsibility a dog is. You have to make sure they’re kept fed and in good health. You need to make sure they get enough training, socialization, and exercise. That means spending time with the dog, taking it for walks, and taking it to obedience classes, if you have no idea how to train a dog.

3. Find a reputable vet. Before you adopt a dog, ask friends to recommend a vet. Call around, also, to see how much vets in your area charge for vaccinations and spays and neuters. The cost can vary greatly.

4. When it’s time to adopt, consider giving a home to an unwanted pet. Animal control was full of dogs looking for loving homes. We talked a lot with one of the animal control employees, and he really helped us find the dog we were looking for. We spent some time outside with Chloe to see how she would respond to each of us, before we made the decision to adopt her.

A side benefit to adopting from the pound is that it’s relatively inexpensive. Chloe’s adoption cost was $80, but that included a certificate for $50 to go towards her spay operation. Speaking of spaying…

5. Spay or neuter your dog. This is an important one. The animal shelter was full of sad little dogs, who wanted homes. A responsible dog owner will make sure their pet is spayed or neutered, so their dog doesn’t have a litter of unwanted puppies.

6. Don’t buy the cheapest dog food. It turns out the cheap stuff isn’t very good for dogs. I don’t buy the most expensive stuff, but I do buy a reputable brand. When our cats got sick, the lady at the pet store recommended Nutro brand cat food, and our vet agreed. I figured that was probably pretty good for a dog, too, so Nutro is what Chloe eats now.

Buying a healthier food can prevent expensive vet visits later in life.

7. Have a fun! We’re really enjoying having Chloe in our family! She’s a great dog, and fairly well behaved. We’re planning on taking the pound up on their offer of one free dog training class, as soon as Chloe gets her rabies shot and is spayed. We’ve already made that appointment, though the vet couldn’t work her in until August 6.

I’m glad we made the decision to get a dog. And I’m glad we adopted from the pound. Every time Chloe comes running when we call, I can tell that she’s glad to have a family of her own, and I’m glad it’s us!

Do you have any additional tips? And do any of you dog experts have a clue as to what breed Chloe is? We’re guessing that she has some Border Collie or Australian Shepherd in her.