We have adopted both puppies and adult dogs through the years. When I was a kid, I remember always wanting a puppy because adult dogs were "no fun," and I wanted someone to play with, train, have adventures and basically grow up together.

Twice, my dream had come true: we had gotten a puppy. Both times, I had quickly learned that before we could have our adventures - like go fishing together, for example - the puppy needed to learn quite a lot. Things like you can't grab and chew on anything you want or jump at anybody you see. Things like walking on a leash without having the leash wrapped around my legs.

Teaching my puppies all that was not easy. Sometimes I just had no patience and began to wish the puppy grew up, calmed down, and became smarter. So, puppies certainly are fun and exciting, but they are - well, silly. And it takes a lot of time and effort to train and raise that wonderful, smart, well-behaved friend and companion all dog-lovers want.

We had adopted some adult dogs, too. With them, there were no chewing, digging, and running like crazy, but they required some patience as well, although in a different area. Adult dogs come with their personalities and habits fully formed. That means that both the dog and the new owner have to learn and adjust. And in some cases, the dog still remembers the previous owner and grieves. This also needs to be patiently dealt with.

I remember one particular dog we took in, a shaggy mixed breed called simply Gray. Gray's owner had moved out, and their old house was to be demolished. We were advised that it was better to have Gray chained at first, so that he'd get used to the new place and wouldn't attempt to run away. Gray was very calm and nice to us. He did not object to being chained. But on the very first night, he'd gotten loose and disappeared. My grandmother knew right away where to look for him. "He went back to the old house," she'd said.

We went there, and sure enough, there he was: sitting in his old doghouse, waiting for his owner to return. We talked to him, and he came out. I put a collar around his neck and walked him home. Once again, Gray didn't object. But a couple of days later he ran away again. And again. It had become our routine: I would go feed Gray, and if he was not in the dog house, I'd walk to his old place (which was not very far) and bring him back. I remember lecturing him on the way: "Will you STOP going there?! There's nobody in that house, it's all shut up, and they're not coming back! Nobody will feed you there, you'll starve. And the house will be soon torn down. We are your family now! Why don't you just forget those people and stay with us?"

Eventually, Gray did. But his heart took a long time to heal.

So both puppy and adult dog can be quite a challenge to adopt. See for yourself what you'd rather deal with: youthful silliness to restrain or mature character to learn and adjust to.

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