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Four-Legged Friends for the Family

Tips for Choosing the Right Fur-Ever Pet for Your Home

Article by Gretchen Pahia

Photography by Christine Andert—Picture Lady Photography LLC

Originally published in North Peoria Lifestyle

In Arizona, it is believed that more than 55% of the households own a pet, and of those, more than 40% own a dog.

However, finding the right dog for your family can be a challenge if you don’t know where to look and how to pick the right breed.

Julie Semple, North Peoria resident and dog breeder at Baileys Ranch (, says there are many things to look at before choosing a fur-ever friend.

"Do your research on specific characteristics of different breeds and see what fits best with your family’s lifestyle. An older couple might need a smaller, calmer breed, whereas a young family might do better with a medium-size dog that has more energy to match their busy lifestyle."

Finding a Pet Through a Breeder

There are several ways to find a dog to add to your family. Shelters and private breeders are the most common options. One of the best ways to find a perfect dog for your family is through a breeder. However, Semple urges you to do your homework to select the right breeder.

"There are just as many unethical breeders for every ethical breeder. Make sure you have really researched who you are about to do business with," Semple says. "Don’t send deposits or pay for a puppy until you are sure that you are dealing with a reputable company or breeder." 

She adds that the internet and social media can be full of fakes and scams as well, so buyers beware.

Taking Home a Shelter Dog

Semple explains that breeders aren’t the only option when it comes to picking the right pet for your household.

“Shelter dogs need loving homes as well. They take a different kind of commitment due to their possible past and current circumstances. When you finally decide to add a fur baby to your life, please remember it is a permanent commitment. Dogs are heart healers and live to make us happy. It is the most rewarding decision you will ever make.”

While shelters do offer a great option for finding a dog to love and care for, it is best to do your homework with shelters as well. Make sure it is a reputable shelter. Research ahead of time what sort of breed you would like to bring home to your family. While there are a lot of dogs in need, it may take more than one visit to a shelter before you find the right one for your home.

Here in the Valley, the Arizona Humane Society ( is the most recognized family of shelters. For information on their pet adoption program, you can call 602.997.7585 or visit them online.

Looking for a Service Dog?

Another issue many families are facing is the need to find a service or companion dog. Whether for yourself or for a child, making sure you find the right animal is a must.

According to Megan Braganza with Assistance Canines, there are some very important things you need to consider when selecting a service animal, especially for a child.

“In matching a service dog with a child, it is important to consider the family's lifestyle and pick a dog that will be able to seamlessly integrate into the household. Temperament testing is an integral part of the process. In most cases a puppy or dog whose temperament is middle of the road, not too shy or outgoing, with a drive to please is ideal.”

There are several conditions in which a child or individual would need a service or companion animal, including diabetes, seizures, migraines and PTSD. Service dogs can also be trained for some psychiatric disorders, as well as other physical limitations such as mobility issues, hearing issues and vision impairment.

Braganza says there is a protocol to follow. “The first step in getting a service dog is always to speak with your doctor to see if a dog would be a good addition to the treatment plan for the individual and their family. The next step is to reach out to either a breeder who has experience with service dogs or a service dog trainer, who will be able to match you with the right dog for your needs and provide the resources for a training program right for you.”

Whichever option you choose, take time to carefully consider the best four-legged addition to your family—and have fun at the local dog parks around town. If you want to share your own pet pictures, tag us on Instagram @NorthPeoriaLifestyle.