You got that right, the very first thing that you have to keep in mind is the fact that animals may not understand the purpose of the meet and greet. What does this mean for you? It means that you shouldn’t pass up an animal just because it doesn’t look too happy to be handled and passed around by strangers. You won’t be too happy either if strange men and women started smiling at you, making baby noises at your face, and wanting to pet you right?
Whew! Now that we got that small fact out of the way, let’s get to the main topic, shall we?
So, you think you’re ready for the meet and greet huh? We’re sure you are as prepared as you can be and have read up on what you should know about adopting, crushed the pet adoption myths, and knows how having a pet can benefit you. With all that preparation, it is also possible that you may not know what to expect and what to do on the actual meet and greet; which is why we wrote the pointers down below to help you go about it the right way.
In no specific order, here are the pointers on acing your meet and greet:
Have A List of Questions
It is inevitable to find a pet or an animal that simply makes your heart melt but hey, you’re not supposed to make decisions based on cuteness overload, right? Having a list of questions to ask the shelter or rescue about the animal you’ve set your heart on can pinpoint possible problems down the road.
How? It isn’t like you can ask the dog or the turtle if they are house-trained or not. Asking specific things about the animal to the people who’ve spent time with the animal is the way to go if you want answers to determine if the pet or animal is the right fit for you.
Below are a sample set of 12 questions you can modify for your needs:
How long has the animal been in the shelter/rescue?
Was the animal found, surrendered, or a stray?
How would the shelter staff or the rescue volunteer describe day to day interactions with the animal? Energy level and temperament are follow-up questions here, and yes, even snakes have different energy levels and can show ‘personality’.
What are the animal’s likes and dislikes? Favorite pastime? Favorite meal? Favorite activity? Personality quirks?
How old is the animal?
How long is the approximate life span of the breed/kind of animal?
Does the animal have any special needs like a specific food or bedding material?
How responsive is the pet/animal to training or being taught new tricks or behaviors?
Does the animal have a history of getting into fights or conflict with other animals in the rescue/shelter?
How healthy is the animal? Are there any health issues such as aging related concerns or perhaps an old injury?
How social is the animal?
Is the animal house-trained? Kennel trained? Leash-trained?
This questionnaire is only meant as a guide to help you decide if the animal you like would be compatible with your lifestyle, home, and preferences. We made this questionnaire with the help of input from the pet adoption veterans and gurus Carrie of Phoenix Rising Rescue, Linda of K9BFF Rescue, Dorothea Boughdadly of Hoofs and Woofs Animal Rescue, Suzanne Kleinberg of Team Cat Rescue, Larry of Blue Moon Cat Sanctuary, Keyria Lockheart of Last Hope Cat Kingdom, and many, many more professionals and volunteers who are experienced in the animal and pet adoption scene.
The questions above are of course not a complete list and you are free to add anything you may want to know about the animal. Yes, the more questions the better (as long as you are polite and nice when you ask them).
What we are saying is - do not be afraid to ask questions! Shelters and rescues that really care about their animals would appreciate that you are asking questions such as the ones above and may also be scrutinizing if you’ll likewise be a good fit for the pet you’re interested in.
Any tip from us to ace this Q&A step? Just be yourself and be as honest as possible with your needs. Certainly don’t try to convince yourself or make excuses that an animal is a good fit even when you do not like the answers to your questions. Remember, you would want to make a decision which you can stick with for the duration of your, or the animal’s life.
Be Nice To Staff And Volunteers
Meet and Greets are big events which often takes days if not weeks of preparation. The shelter staff and rescue volunteers may be tired or may have answered the same questions you are asking a hundred times or more. It helps to try to minimize asking questions unless you really are interested with the animal.
Attending a meet and greet should not be treated like going to a petting zoo. The animals are not just for display, they are creatures who are looking for a brighter and better future in a home which you can hopefully provide.
Bring The Whole Family!
Okay, we certainly do not mean to bring your entire clan but you should at least be with a group of people (and maybe a pet or two) with whom you spend the most time with. Why? Because like you, they would also be living with the animal you’ll be choosing.
In fact, the process of welcoming a new family member should be approved by everyone in your inner circle (that means the people you live with in this context). You won’t want to find the best pet cat ever only to find out that your dog, kids, significant other, best friend, and fish hates it. That would surely be uncomfortable and would make life hard for everyone, especially you!
Take A Chill Pill
We don’t mean a real pill, but you get what we are saying here. Try to not get too excited or hyped up. First of all, you won’t want to make emotion-laden decisions, and secondly, the animals you handle may pick-up from your heightened state and react in any of the following manners: get afraid, get aggressive, get confused, get excited and/or hyperactive, simply don’t want to be near you, or act all crazy.
Animals pick-up on a person’s emotional state, energy, and overall aura so try to be as calm as you can be while still remaining positive and happy. Just picture yourself cuddling up with loved ones on the couch and try to give off that same vibe. You’ll find that the animals would gravitate towards you and the meet and greet will be a lot less stressful.
Mind Your Manners!
You can’t expect a dog to react the same way as a cat or a bird does when you first come to meet it, right? Different animals have different ways of establishing contact and you should at least brush up on this before going to the meet and greet.
Example, dogs generally won’t appreciate being picked up unless you’ve let them sniff you first and then you go through the series of ‘greetings’ such as the petting, sniffing, licking, scratching behind the ears, more sniffing and licking, and then belly rub. Only after that (and after the shelter staff or rescue volunteer gave you the go signal) can you consider picking up a dog and giving it a hug. Why? Because in the dog’s world, being picked up and hugged by a total stranger is like being assaulted in the middle of the street in broad daylight. The animal may think you are rude and offensive!
On a different note, keep in mind that animals or pets which are up for adoption may not be properly socialized, hence, you cannot just treat them like you do the animal or pet you have at home. Mind your manners by knowing how to approach different animals in the way that they deem polite and they will surely appreciate it.
Meet and Greets are often a flurry of activity and it is so easy to make the mistake of thinking that the kitty you saw at one facility is the same one you didn’t have a great experience with at another place. So what do you do? Take notes of course!
In this day and age, it would be a shame not to take advantage of technology to take notes and have a record of which pet or animal is in which shelter. It will make life easier for you and the animals if only you’d snap some photos or make a short note of each encounter on your phone or gadget. As Anne Fifield of Basset Rescue Texas shared, “Take Notes - If you are applying to more than one rescue at a time, keep good, concise notes. Make sure you know which rescue has which dog. For example, you may ask us about Fluffy. Our answer is, “We don’t have a Fluffy.” Then it takes more time to figure out which dog you mean. Sometimes we never figure it out because the person has called the wrong rescue altogether. That just delays the process for you.”
Prepare To Go Home Alone
After all of this preparation and meeting tons of awesome pets and animals, it is entirely possible to not meet one which would be a great match for you. That is very normal and is a sign that you are really taking pet adoption seriously.
By not bringing home an animal or pet which you are not entirely sure about, you are actually leaving the door open for both you and that creature to find your perfect match (see our book on that) and you should be proud of yourself for not being selfish and being mature enough to realize that fact.
Be Ready To Go Through The Adoption Process
Yipee! You’ve found a new addition to the family, eh? Then it is off to the next step which we will discuss in full on the next article so stay tuned for that!
We hope that this installment of our Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption Series has been helpful for you! Please feel free to share this article to everyone who may benefit from it. It would really make our day to read your comments, feedbacks, or tips on how to ace the meet and greet so just leave a comment down below or join our Facebook page to communicate with fellow pet and animal lovers. It is where we share animal news, blog updates, and cute pet stories aside from our newsletters which delivers all of that straight to your inbox when you sign-up for it below.
See you guys at the next article!
HOMEOPATH & CO-FOUNDER OF ZUMALKA
Suzie Cyrenne co-founded Zumalka over five years ago, and has worked in naturopathic pet medicine for more than six. Day-to-day, she works as the lead manager for the Zumalka staff and specializes in training the team to have thorough knowledge of pet health and the company’s extensive line of naturopathic remedies.
Suzie has gained a lot of experience from years spent in the pet health field and she earned her degree in Homeopathy at the School of Classical Homeopathy in Quebec, Canada, (a partner of the European Academy of Natural Medicine (AEMN) in France).
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