Your neighbor or a family member may have gotten a new pet for Christmas. Now your kids are asking you for a dog or cat. You look in the paper or online and notice the cost. You either remember the involvement of a puppy or kitten or after reading online articles you say "No way!" Before your children cry a river of tears, research the breed you are interested in and consider a rescue animal.

Like you, we were skeptical at first. However, we knew we did not want a puppy. Potty training, teething, obedience training and high energy would not fit into our schedules. A puppy would definitely be returned to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. We looked into rescue groups in our area and began the process.

I tease with some seriousness it would have been easier to adopt a child from a foreign country than our beagle. We submitted an application and were contacted for an interview. Next, our vet was called. We attended an adoption at a local pet store and spoke with several canine foster parents. Next, the founder of the organization who lived in our area visited our home and yard to see if it was acceptable. Believe it or not, her dog was able to squeeze through a couple of gaps and repairs were needed; yes, a reinspection was made. As we saw animals we were interested in on the website, we spoke with the corresponding foster family. The dogs were then brought to our house to see how they interacted with our children and cats. One dog chased one of the cats and the website was quickly updated to reflect they were not compatible with small animals. We finally chose an owner turn in and the rescue group followed up with us several times to see how our new beagle was adapting.

We have learned there are pros and cons. We chose a dog that was seven years old. Our beagle was potty trained, no teething, was low energy and she did not bolt for the door. Did I mention all of her shots were up to date and she was spayed? Our beagle came with AKC papers and she was only $ 200.00. She also was leash trained and knew a few tricks. For some reason she was very familiar with the word "no." Plus, the children and cats did not faze her. The cons were her bad habits. She steals food, hops on the furniture even though she is constantly told "no" and she tends to pee on carpet. (Our bottom floor is tile and we tease she thinks carpet it is grass.) Her former owner must have thought the barking was cute, because she never stops. However, the barking has scared off some magazine salespeople.

Although there are pros and cons to adopting a rescue animal, the benefits have outweighed the negatives. She loves us more than we will ever know, is protective of the children and when in trouble she tilts her head to the side and gives us that "Who me?" look.