After waiting 3 years(because we wanted to be moved into our new house first, but we got impatient) we finally got a dog!!
Matt and I knew we wanted a female German Shepherd(mix) puppy and that we would adopt a rescued dog(everyone should!). German Shepherds are very smart and naturally protective loving dogs. I used www.petfinder.com to begin my search. It's a database of ALL the animal shelters and then some who are trying to adopt out dogs and cats. You can search by breed, age, and location.
My search came up with about 20 or so dogs. Many could quickly be eliminated based on the photo, description, and location. The photo gives you a clue as to what it's mixed with if that information wasn't provided. And yes, of course, I was looking for the cutest dog I could find! Most of the shelters were just too far to drive anyway(search options are 100mi/200mi). We started with the best and closest matches.
One was 30 min from us. The other about 2 hours(and they had a whole litter of pure breads). We went to see the closest one who was a 3 month old German Shepherd mixed with an unknown smaller breed. She was only 12 lbs, which is half the weight of a pure bread shepherd of that age. She had a clean bill of health and the vet predicted her adult weight to be between 40-60lbs. That's a big range, but still much smaller than a 90 lb. shepherd.
Here are her photos from the ad:
Matt and I fell in love with this dog right away. She was very people friendly and somewhat calm for a puppy. We put in our application to adopt to beat out the other people that took the forms home to "think about it". We had to wait a few days for them to do a background check on us, then we came back to sign the adoption papers and pay.
They don't release the dogs until after they are spayed/neutered, and since it was a holiday weekend, we had to wait 5 long days before we could pick her up(right after surgery).
The first night she was still groggy from anesthesia and not herself. I could tell that she was really unsure and confused by not only how she felt but who we were and where she was going. All she did was sleep for the first 20 hrs. It didn't take her long to get to feeling better. The vet sent some pain meds home and she had her energy back the next day. She was even wanting to play with other dogs.
Matt and I tried out several names for our baby girl, and finally decided on Lucy. House training is a lot of work, but Lucy is catching on. She only has accidents if we don't take her outside regularly enough(like every hour or so). We're also crate training, at least for now. While, we both grew up with dogs, neither of us have experience with puppies...at least as an adult owner. I learned that since dogs are den animals, they will naturally not mess in their crates and this helps them learn bladder control. We crate Lucy when we are not home or able to watch her, and also at night. She can go almost all night without needing to go out. She knows it's "her room" and has even started taking naps in there voluntarily! I'm so glad it's not traumatic for her when we put her in there to leave.
The crate must be just the size of the dog so they don't have room to make a "bathroom spot" in the corner. So since we don't know how big she'll get, we're borrowing a crate made for medium dogs, which fits her perfectly with a little room to grow. Also, since she's a puppy, she'll be traveling in the crate and a large crate would be really difficult to move to different rooms of the house or put in the car.