Shelters such as ours are often filled with highly adoptable dogs and cats. Many people have the impression that shelters are filled with destructive, aggressive, or hard to train animals. In reality, many dogs wind up here after their owners die, move away, or when families separate. Do Your Homework. Think about the kind of life you lead: gone all day? kids always underfoot? Quiet and mostly indoors? Do your have other animals? What are your usual activities? Will your new pet be involved in these activities? Think Long Term. A dog is a 10 to 15 year commitment, cats are 15 to 20. Don’t go into this relationship lightly.