You know — That one puppy EVERYONE wants!

Every litter seems to have one, that one puppy everyone wants. It could be a chubby, fluffy pup or one with some special marking like a heart-shaped patch of fur. Whatever the “it” factor, this puppy gets all the attention. [Featured photo is of Tramp, the black and white puppy above, who was adopted in June.]

As you might suspect, the competition for that one coveted puppy is fierce. Most reputable rescues will look for the family and home that best fits the puppy’s anticipated needs. 

Timina Stengel with the puppy Rusty who is one of her fosters.

Improve your odds of being the chosen adopter

To improve your odds of being the chosen adopter:

1 – Foster

If you know you want to add a new puppy to your home, connect with a rescue and foster. Most rescues give the right of first refusal to the pup’s fosters. There are breed-specific rescues, large and small breed rescues, rescues for mixed breeds, etc., and they would love to have your help as you keep your options open for your forever dog.

A few local rescues to check out: Faith, Hope & Love Animal Rescue NC, Forgotten, Now Family Rescue, Kreitzer’s Critter Corral Puppy Rescue, Lake Norman Humane, Lucky Labs Rescue, North Mecklenburg Animal Rescue, and Peanut’s Place Small Breed Rescue.

2 – Make sure your application is complete

Include any information that makes you stand out. Things like fenced yards and country settings are always in an applicant’s favor for certain types of dogs (Huskies or herding breeds, for example). But breed-specific experience is also a plus, as is a history of keeping your pets until they pass at an old age.

3 – Make sure your existing pets are current on their required vaccinations and heartworm prevention

We have unfortunately had folks tell us they will take their existing pets to the vet for vaccine updates IF they get the puppy. That response lets us know that they weren’t interested in their animals’ long-term well-being, just in getting a puppy right then. We can’t place any puppy in a home like that.

4 – Demonstrate understanding of what’s best for the puppy

Show us that you have researched the breed or breed mix and that you have a plan for giving the puppy its best life. That can include telling us if you plan to enroll the pup in obedience training and/or doggy daycare for exercise and socialization.

Planning ahead with tools your puppy needs to be a forever family member tells us you’re a serious adopter.  

5 – Be patient with us as we process applications

Most rescues are run by volunteers with their own personal responsibilities. Frequently messaging for updates or with heartrending reasons why you deserve the puppy over everyone else does not move you any closer to being “chosen.”

6 – Be nice to the puppy’s foster parent

Don’t ruin your chances by acting entitled or otherwise like a jerk to the foster. When I get a bad vibe from a potential adopter, I pass that feedback along to the rescue director(s). Genuine, kind people with consideration for both the puppy AND the folks in rescue get so much further.

7 – Show that you will be graceful whether or not you are selected to adopt the popular puppy

When people say, “We’ll be happy as long as the puppy ends up in a good home, whether it’s with us or not,” we see that as putting the dog first.

And not being selected to adopt the popular puppy does not necessarily mean you wouldn’t be a good adopter. More likely, you were simply in a large pool of well-qualified adoption applicants.

In that case, consider one of the other puppies in the litter. The gentlest or the most attentive puppy may not be the fluffiest or most eye catching, but they may be a better fit. All puppies grow up — you want one that can grow into a dog you’ll want in your family forever.

About Carolina Big Hearts Big Barks Rescue

This summer, Carolina Big Hearts Big Barks Rescue transitioned to Big Hearts Big Barks Foundation with a mission to raise money for underfunded animal shelters, reputable rescues, and other dog-related nonprofits like Shelter to Soldier. The Foundation is also working to implement a community-based spay/neuter program.

Adopt Sunny


Sunny is a beautiful white pit bull who was used as a breeder dog and lived her life on a chain before coming into rescue. Because of her history as an outside dog, Sunny, while sweet, truly needs someone who has the patience to let her adjust and who will work with her on her anxiety issues.

Article and photos by Timina Stengel – Foster/Adopter/Rescue Advocate
Timina Stengel

Timina is the full time Personal Assistant/Mom to her rescue pitty Stella. She also has two human teenagers and works as a content strategist.

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