I adopted Gatsby sight-unseen. Was it nerve-wracking making a life-long commitment to a dog I’d never met? Absolutely! But I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. I wound up with an amazing companion who is 100% pure love and makes me smile every day. Still, especially when adopting a pet, it’s important to ask the right questions before taking the leap and bringing a puppy home. When I was making the decision to adopt Gatsby I probably exchanged over 30 emails back and forth with his foster and rescue advocates. While at times I felt like I might have been annoying them with my constant influx of questions, I’m really glad that I took the time to learn more about Gatsby’s temperament, health, history and personality prior to adopting him. Here are some of the questions I asked prior to adopting, I think it’s a good place to start!

History + Behaviour

  • How did he end up in a shelter or rescue?
  • How old is he?
  • Is there a history of abuse?
  • How is training going so far? Are there any specific commands that he responds to?
  • What is he like when left alone?
  • How is he around other dogs and people?
  • How does he act around children?
  • How does he act at mealtimes?
  • Has he had any practice walking on leash?
  • Does he bark a lot?
  • How does he react to other types of pets? (e.g. cats)


  • Where does he sleep at night? Is he being crate-trained?
  • What are his current weight and measurements? (to allow for purchasing the correct bed and harness prior to arrival)
  • What type of food has he been eating, and on what schedule?
  • Does he cope well with new situations, including car travel?


  • Has he been neutered?
  • Has he received any medications or treatments for parasite prevention so far?
  • What vaccinations has he had so far? (e.g. Leptospirosis)
  • Has he been checked for heart worm infection?
  • Has he been microchipped?


This post was first published on November 25th, 2014.

Welcome to 49th + North

For the past couple years, I’ve entertained myself by browsing for adoptable puppies online. I had this dream of having a perfect little Boston Terrier puppy to spoil and cuddle 24/7. Whenever I needed a bit of a distraction or a pick me up I’d jump on Kijiji or Craigslist and search out the puppies. Being a single gal living alone I never really considered having a puppy to be possible for me, and I felt pretty content with my fantasy puppy searches. I even jokingly purchased a ceramic dog, gave him a name and referred to him as my ‘pet’.

Having grown up with dogs, I know first hand the amazing energy and love they can bring to a home. The more I thought about having a pup in my life the more afternoons I found myself staring at postings for puppies online. And then, one day, I discovered PetFinder. PetFinder is an amazing website that lets you search for all kinds of adoptable animals available in North America. On a lark, I decided to type in “Boston Terrier, Puppy, Vancouver.” I scrolled aimlessly through a couple pages and then came across this face.


I mean. Can you even? His temporary name was ‘Stimpy’ and he and his brother ‘Ren’ were abandoned when they were weeks old due to their mixed breed status. The posting said that he was half Chihuahua and half Boston Terrier (sometimes referred to as a Chibo or a Bochi). I did some research on the breed; intelligent, healthy, quiet, small, and not too energetic. Rave reviews. Then I emailed the foster contact to try and arrange a meeting, which is when I discovered that the puppies were actually in a foster home in Texas! If I wanted this puppy, it would need to be sight unseen.

I thought long and hard about it. Was I brave enough to adopt a puppy without ever meeting him? What if he had a terrible temperament or was completely wrong for my lifestyle? I emailed the foster several times, talked the ears off of my boyfriend and my sister, had a meeting with a local vet, made pro and con lists, all before I finally took the plunge. Two weeks later I drove to the airport and brought back a 17lb, black, fuzzy, ball of love. He immediately set to work melting the hearts of all my friends and family. I named him Gatsby.

I’ve learned so much since I brought Gatsby home five months ago. I wanted to create a space online to help share what I’ve learned about adoption and pet-ownership, as well as sharing our dog-friendly adventures! With that said, welcome to 49th + North!

This post was first published on November 24th, 2014.