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Video: Author takes you inside ‘Dog’s World’

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    >>> how adopting a dog can change your life. that was the case for wendy diamond, who adopted two dogs ten years ago. she's the author of a book

    s world: the savvy guide to four-legged living," and she's here to share her advice for prospective dog parents. dog parents. thank you so much. that's funny, wendy . good morning, thanks for being here.

    >> good morning.

    >> let's talk about this, because it really has changed your life to have these two dogs.

    >> absolutely. ten years ago when i adopted lucky -- she's a pure-bred maltese, and who would have ever thought you could get a pure-bred maltese in adoption? so, when i adopted lucky, at that time, 12 million animals were euthanized a year. today, ten years later, that's down to 5 million because people are more aware of adoption. you can get any breed, whether you want a golden retriever or a pure-bred maltese or a cute little mutt, everything's available for adoption.

    >> we should probably mention that yours is a saints fan.

    >> we actually just came back from barkus, which is the mardi gras for dogs in new orleans, and she was the grand marshal and it was the most adorable thing ever. so that's why she has her saints outfit on.

    >> okay. let's talk about what prospective dog owners should be thinking about. i'm looking at these beautiful dogs. there's a pure-bred shih tzu on the right.

    >> we have a designer dog , a puggle at the end, a chow mix. and they're all up for adoption. at the humane society in new york and across the country there are shelters and they have all of these types of dogs. as well, you can go online and find out which dog is right for your lifestyle.

    >> that what i'm noticing is just looking at these dogs you can tell they have very different personalities. the shih tzu is very calm and relaxed. maybe the puggle on the end as well, but he's a little more rambunctio rambunctious. i'm wondering, when you look at a breed, is that how you now, how you read a dog, whether in terms of whether that dog is a match for you, or how should you best do that?

    >> first off, education is the number one thing. read up on any breed you want. you should read up on it and find out everything about them to see if it fits into your lifestyle. first of all, if you live in a little apartment, you'll want a little dog. it's not fair to have this huge dog in a little apartment. so, that's one thing to take a look at when you're considering adopting or getting any type of breed of dog you want, as well as personality traits . for instance, if you're older and you're less active, it might be best to get an older dog, because you're not going to want a dog that's going to run around all the time.

    >> one of these dogs is an older dog. it's the one that --

    >> the chow-golden.

    >> which is the second from the right.

    >> yep. that's a 12-year-old dog. and that's what is very important to look at is what is best to fit your lifestyle. do you love to go to the park, do you love to go swimming? do you want a dog that swims? do you want a dog that will cuddle with you on the couch and hang out? like a shih tzu is more of a zen-type dog who loves to just cuddle, be a lap dog . then you've got the puggle that's going to be a little bit more active. it's going to want to go on a lot of walks. and also look at everything to do with your lifestyle and how you want -- and from what type of apartment you have, whether you have a house, whether you have a backyard. it's important to know this when you're choosing a dog.

    >> what's the best advice for people? we hear about people maybe thinking of buying a dog for the holiday coming up, valentine's day. do you recommend that, given that there's so much pressure and you might actually make a quick, maybe the wrong choice for your family?

    >> you should never make a quick decision. this is a lifelong commitment. these dogs never grow up and go to college and go away and take care of themselves. you're responsible to play with them, feed them, walk them. so it's really important to have information about what you want in a dog. and first of all, you can absolutely adopt a dog or buy a dog, but for instance, we watched the whole thing called yappy hour, right? where it gives you an opportunity to rent a dog for like a ten-minute walk and see what it's like and see whether you get along with that dog. you can go into any shelter, as well, and go into a shelter and just kind of take the dogs out for a walk and see whether or not you get along with them. it's like chemistry. if you're going to be with a person or a dog, you need to get to know them first.

    >> you know, i can see by your reactions, you guys, with the dogs down there, you know, you can see that having a dog can really make you happier, it can make you more relaxed, breathe deeper, maybe run around a lot more. but a lot of fun. well, thanks so much for bringing all the dogs. thank you, wendy , for your advice this morning.

    >> thank you, thank you, thank you.

    >> the book is called "it's a dog's world." we've got much more coming up with hoda and kathie lee .

TODAY books
updated 2/9/2010 11:51:52 AM ET 2010-02-09T16:51:52

At the end of the day, everyone wants someone to come home to, even dogs. But unfortunately, not every canine has that option. Wendy Diamond, a pet lifestyle expert and author of “It's a Dog's World: The Savvy Guide to Four-Legged Living,” shares tips on how pet owners can help local animals in need. Here's an excerpt.

Every Dog Has Its Day
At the end of the day, a dog is a dog! And as much as we want to indulge our canine counterparts with the finer treats life has to offer, pure joy to a dog is socializing and playing at the local park or dog run, drinking plenty of water, consuming healthy meals, joining parents on a daily walk, and a cozy home where a sleeping dog can lie.

My hope and dream is that this book will help motivate every pet-friendly reader and animal enthusiast to get involved with animal rescue, find needy animals homes, and work to make every shelter a no-kill shelter. There are many ways to help in your own neighborhoods. Many communities have local SPCA’s (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a generic term for any group that wants to help animals), local Humane societies (Humane Society of America is a national group doing amazing things, but your local humane society does not have the budget or PR, and needs your support), and small shelters that are in desperate need of volunteers and donations. The easiest way to find your local animal aid organizations is to search for them on the Internet or ask your local veterinarian. Many of the shelters have lists of important items they need but can’t afford. Any donations of time, supplies, or money are greatly appreciated.

The most important action on the donor’s part is to do research before making a gift! Make sure you know where you are donating before pledging. Call the organization and ask as many questions as you need. It is your money and you have the right to know where it is going. Look for organizations that pledge to help the animals in your own community! By targeting each community one at a time, eventually the rescue outreach will create a huge wave from coast to coast. You can do your part by making informed decisions to save lives of innocent animals.

Here are some ways you can help local animals in need:

  1. Consider being a foster parent to pet in transition. There are many local organizations that specialize in placing animals in loving, temporary homes.
  2. Do you know how to sew, knit, or crochet? You could make and donate sweaters, blankets or even toys to help keep the animals cozy and entertained while awaiting adoption.
  3. Throw a party! You can introduce your friends to your local Humane Society or SPCA and then ask for donations. You’d be surprised how generous people can be after a few glasses of wine ...
  4. Use the power of your vote! Let your local and state representatives know that caring for animals is a priority for you. Write an email that clearly states your views and forward it to your friends and acquaintances to pass on.

  5. Volunteer to use your special skills to support your local shelter. Can you design a flyer, write an article, or analyze a legal brief? These (and many other) skills can be invaluable to an underfunded and understaffed non-profit.

  6. Be vigilant! Pay attention when you see signs of animal abuse and report suspicions to an animal protection agency.

  7. Be generous! Monetary donations to the general operating funds of local organizations keep the shelters alive. The holidays are a great time to make a gift.

  8. Consider adoption and check out your local shelter. Many of these animals have suffered terribly and desperately need your love.

  9. Join up! Become a member of an SPCA, Humane Society or another local shelter in your community. Many offer newsletters and invitations to events where you can meet other animal lovers in your area.

  10. Persuade your friends and co-workers to join you!

Lucky has truly entertained me this past decade and has definitely rescued me in many more ways than I’ve rescued her. With your help and the help of others, every dog in America can be lucky enough to find a safe and loving home. Dog Bless!

Excerpted with permission from “It's a Dog's World: The Savvy Guide to Four-Legged Living”  by Wendy Diamond (Ballantine Books, 2010).

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

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