Tribune Staff

Shelli and Tom Wagner knew they wanted another dog.

Their Old English Sheepdog had died and the Fremont couple wanted a pet for their daughters, Alicia and Amelia. But instead of simply buying the first cute puppy they saw, the Wagners did something many would-be pet owners fail to do: a little research.

Veterinarians today are urging pet owner wannabes to think about which breed of dog would best suit their lifestyle, then learn as much as they can about that breed.

The worst thing to do is to buy a pet on the spur of the moment.

"They (pets) are living things and they require time and some need a lot of affection on an ongoing basis and people need to decide if they're ready to give that, as well as the expense,'' said Fremont veterinarian, Dr. Lewis Verner.

The Wagners got off to the right start by considering which breed would best fit their family. Wagner knew she didn't want another large dog — one that would be hard for the couple's two young daughters to walk. Nor did they want another long-haired breed that required daily brushing and "a lot of grooming.''

"With the kids, we didn't have the time to devote to a pet like we did when we just got her,'' Wagner said.

Another dog owner recommended purchasing a West Highland White Terrier. So Wagner bought one book about this breed, then checked out a couple more books from the library. The books described this breed as easy going, highly intelligent and sociable. Friends of the Wagners suggested a breeder and confirmed they were pleased with the puppy they'd purchased from this person.

Finally, the day came for the Wagners to get their new puppy. Instead of one, however, they came home with two.

"Each of the girls had picked a separate pup,'' Wagner explained.

The new pups, Dexter and Astro, fit in just fine with the family. And having two dogs has worked well for the local family.

"It's nice to have the two. They entertain each other. If everyone else is busy, they romp around and play together,'' Wagner said.

Two dogs can mean twice the expense, especially when it comes to grooming. Wagner compensates by giving the dogs a trim to stretch the time in between groomings.

Wagner said she and her family are happy with their choice of dog. Their dogs have good temperaments and enjoy being around people. Moreover, Wagner is glad she did a little research before buying a pet.

"I think it helped us feel more comfortable with our decision,'' Wagner said.

Wagner suggests that people considering a pet purchase should determine if they have enough room for the animal to run and to make sure the dog's personality will fit the family.

"They need to think about what they want to get out of relationship with dog,'' Wagner said. "Do they want a lap dog or … or a dog to play Frisbee with.''

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