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How to Adopt the Perfect Adventure Dog

Give a dog a forever home by looking to the shelters and humane societies.


Adopting a pet is a major commitment and responsibility, but it’s also one of the greatest joys. You become their lifelong adventure companion, and they become yours. This fall, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has partnered with NBCUniversal Local to sponsor the Clear The Shelters initiative, which aims to pair more people up with adoptable dogs across the nation and helps them become the best possible dog parents.

Why Should I Adopt?

Companionship is one of the best reasons to get a dog. Professional photographer Stephen Martin adopted his pup Ollie while transitioning from military service to life at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he didn’t know anyone. His sister, a veterinarian, suggested he adopt a dog to keep himself company. So one day in December 2012, she picked out a tiny bundle of joy for Martin, and it turned out to be a perfect match. “What’s going to happen to me for the next 10 or more years will be in parallel to this dog being with me in my life,” Martin, who grew up with adoptive parents himself, remembers thinking.

Together for the past nine years, they have scaled mountains, visited hot springs, played in the desert, lounged in campgrounds, recovered at home, and adventured across the globe. They’re best friends.

More than three million dogs enter shelters every year nationwide, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Not only does adopting rather than shopping from breeders save an in-need dog’s life, it typically costs less and it combats puppy mills, which prioritize profit over animals’ welfare. Dogs in shelters are sometimes rescued from natural disasters or an owner’s life change, so they’re usually already house-trained and used to living with a family.

So What Kind of Dog Is Right for Me?

Shelters have a variety of breeds, sizes, and ages, from puppies to older dogs. And as those pets find homes, there’s always an influx of new pups. Martin’s best advice is to consider your lifestyle and look for a dog that’s compatible. He’s been bringing Ollie on all his adventures since he was a puppy, so they’re both used to putting in big miles together.

But not every adventure dog needs to summit mountains, and in fact being too picky can limit your search for your forever friend. “By creating too many restrictions and parameters, you could end up ruling out a dog that could be the perfect one for you,” Martin says. Old or young, energetic or mellow, and small or large are a few criteria to consider. Take Hill’s quiz to find out which kind of pet is your perfect fit.

I’m Sold. Where Do I Start?

Your local community likely has a humane society, shelter, or rescue organization that puts dogs up for adoption. Look for a shelter or rescue near you using the Hill’s search tool.

To make it even easier, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is partnering with NBCUniversal Local to sponsor Clear The Shelters, which celebrates adoptive pet parents during the largest pet adoption event of the year, happening from August 23 to September 19, 2021. The campaign will help spread awareness of the adoption message while also providing first-time owners with valuable resources and encouragement to ease the transition. In 2020, more than 1,100 shelters participated, and over 140,000 pets found homes.

But before they even start looking for a new companion, Martin recommends that prospective owners find a local veterinary clinic and pet insurance. Budget for all the necessities, such as bedding, food, water bowls, and toys.

Once you’ve put a pet on hold or officially adopted, Martin says it’s helpful to research tips for training him based on his breed, should he need to be trained. Again, many adoptable dogs are already trained. “Before you get the dog and once you get the dog, the responsibility level never changes,” Martin says.

After you’ve done the proper research and found a local shelter—congratulations. Your new best friend is minutes away.

At Hill’s Pet Nutrition, our nutrition is inspired by science, not trends, to create differences you can see, feel and trust. Science-led nutrition is designed to anticipate each pet’s ever-changing needs, keeping pet parents a step ahead so they can enjoy every day with their pet. Our food scientists understand the combinations of nutrients and ingredients that deliver unique nutritional benefits for pets of every age, size and need. Plus, more U.S. veterinarians recommend Hill’s products than any other brand. Hill’s Prescription Diet therapeutic nutrition and our everyday foods, Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Healthy Advantage are sold worldwide at vet clinics, pet specialty retailers and e-retailers. For more information about Hill’s, our products and our forward-thinking approach to nutrition, visit us at or, or connect with us on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram.

The Clear The Shelters trademark is owned by NBCUniversal Local, a division of NBCUniversal.