If you're not looking to adopt now, but thinking ahead, start exploring the places you'd like to spend time with your future dog.
Maybe you've been thinking about getting into flyball and your present dog has no interest. Now's the time to get acquainted with a flyball group in your area. Chances are the members will offer a wealth of advice about their dogs and where they came from. And whether you prefer to share rugged camping trips or luxury brunches with your pooch, you can find a local Meetup with dogs loving the lifestyle.
Dog shows are a great place to meet reputable breeders and their dogs, compare them side by side, and get a sense of who you find simpatico. Woofstock Cluster is coming up next week in Vallejo, with many breed clubs and the Contra Costa Kennel Club on hand. Rescues, particularly the breed-specific ones, are usually out at these events as well, so it's a good chance to get acquainted with them too.
Don't overlook all those summer walks, runs, splashes and dog socials beckoning you and your current guy or girl. For one thing, the shelters and rescues will be out in force with lots of cute dogs. For another, so will all the dog lovers in town, and it will be a great chance to see who your dog seems to get along with best as you search for a compatible companion.
Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael sometimes has Labs, goldens, or Lab/golden mixes who for one reason or another didn't make it through guide dog training but would be great pets and are available for adoption. They're also in high demand, and matched for a good fit with their particular personality; find out more here.
If there's a particular type of dog you're interested in but you're not sure about the lifelong commitment, consider fostering. Shelters and rescues are always in dire need of foster homes, which play an essential role in keeping dogs happy and safe while they're waiting to be adopted. You'll learn a lot, you'll help save a life, and if you're like a lot of us you will "fail foster" and your foster pup will be sleeping on the couch 14 years later.
Photos: Flyball dog — Bay Racers flyball club, bayracers.com; Guide Dogs for the Blind