There’s No Place Like Home – Good for the Dog; Good for You

When a new foster dog comes to my house, he takes a few days (or more) to settle in.

It’s no surprise. By the time a dog comes to me, he’s left the home he knows, been processed at a shelter, and delivered to my door. That’s a lot of change for anyone, much less a dog who doesn’t understand you when you tell him things are going to get better for him soon.

But some dogs (and humans) are different. They carry their homes with them in their skin. And because they always feel at home, they take less time to settle into a new place.

Honey the Golden Retriever is close up.

Did you miss me?

One foster dog moved right in as if he owned the place. Except for a brief period of anxiety scratching, he made himself at home the first day.

If he could speak, he’d tell me that as long as he had his toys, his sister, and a friend to play with, he’s home everywhere he goes.

I wish I could be more like him.

I do feel “at home” in some unusual places.

Mamallena hostel is in Panama City.

Our temporary home in Panama City – Mamallena hostel.

I’ve never lived in New York city but when I step onto a Manhattan sidewalk, I feel at home. Or maybe it’s just relief at being surrounded by people who walk as fast as I do. My little tent is home, no matter where it’s set up.

But for me, home is mostly about habits (can I read the weekend paper? eat yogurt every morning for breakfast? listen to my music?) and who I share it with.

Living in Panama the past month took me away from all my habits. I still had a sense of home because Mike was with me. But without Honey, it just wasn’t the same.

Our friend who stayed with Honey for the month told us Honey was “unsettled” the first night we were gone. She kept running downstairs and barking at noises outside. That’s very unusual for Honey.

Although she was “home” and staying with someone she loved very much, Honey knows it’s not really home if Mike and I aren’t there too.


Another beautiful Kuna Yala sunset.

Another beautiful sunset in Kuna Yala. But it also means we’re one day closer to seeing Honey again.

In my first post after returning, I asked you to guess if Honey greeted us in her usual calm and ladylike way when we got home or if she went berserk with joy.

If you guessed she was her usual calm and mild greeter, you were right. We saw no licking. No jumping. No spinning in circles.

Honey just picked up a toy in her mouth and quietly said hello as we walked in the door.

She had no need to do more. This wasn’t a special occasion. It was just home. And there’s no place like it.

Your Turn: What makes home for you? How about for your dog?



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  1. Home is wherever we are with Mom. Mom has moved around a lot her whole life including two times to Europe. She doesn’t care where she is all that much as long as she has her pets.

  2. I think I’m with you – home is more about the who you are with then the place you are at. Although I’m not a big traveler and love to cocoon in my home – when Steve & the dogs are gone it feels pretty empty here.

  3. Like you and Kate, home is where my family is; family for me being Sam AND my dogs. Those six months between the night Kissy crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and the morning we brought Callie home from the breeder, this home was just an empty house. I love my hubby, but there’s no substitute for the unconditional love of a dog. Like you said, “without [Kissy] it just wasn’t the same.”

  4. To me, home is where the RV is parked. Some places feel more like home than others however. But home is inside these walls.

  5. Welcome home! I’m glad Honey did well while you were away. That’s interesting that she greeted you the same as normal. The couple times we’ve been gone for a long weekend or a week (the longest I’ve ever been away) Kelly greeted me like a crazy woman, jumping and kissing, sniffing the top of my head to the soles of my feet. I wonder what information she picked up from those scents? Anyway, it must feel sooooo good for you to be back with her and to settle back into your old routine, but with a great bunch of new experiences!

  6. How nice to be back home and have things right back the way they were before. :-)
    I bet you were both glad to see her sweet face when you walked through the door.

  7. I used to think I had simple tastes, but apparently not. I felt so very much at home at San Simeon, William Randolph Hearst’s home on the Pacific coast that California now owns to give tours.

    Many people find it ostentatious and even garish, but i felt so comfortable there. I just wanted to grab a book, an apple and a dog and crawl on one of the priceless antique couches for the day. Under my sweetly simple veneer, I’m actually quite pretentious. It’s good to find out.

  8. Home is where the heart is. My bipeds have had holidays without me that are probably more glamorous than the ones they’ve taken with me, but I think they have better memories from the ones taken together.

  9. What a lovely way to describe home! I completely agree. As long as I have my dogs and my husband, I am at home. I am lucky in that way because we have moved several times as my husband is in the Navy. Home is definitely where we are all together. That is what matters! Have a great day!

  10. Agree with the above, home is definitely where the heart (and fur!) is :-)

  11. Aw, I’m so glad you’re home. Our dogs get neurotic when we leave. Shoot, when just I leave and the other four people are still home. It’s the duck that takes it the worst, though. He gets mopey and cranky. Won’t talk to me for a week after I return.

  12. Vlad & Barkly's Dee says:

    Oh wow! That sunset is AMAZING! Really AHHH-worthy. I think what makes it home for me is having the familiar around me. I’m just as much at home at my parents’ house, our house, and the RV. I’ve always missed our sons during summer-camp whether I was home or not; I’m always missing our USAF youngest; and I missed Vlad & Barkly when I was sick this summer. I’m truly glad we found a vacationing lifestyle that enables us to take the dogs with us. To me, it’s not a vacation without the family.

  13. Welcome back! We have to have The Unit (me, the hubs, the pup) together for it to be home. When the hubs is gone on business, Rita is always unsettled – up listening for him in the night! We like to be together!

  14. Yes, home is where the family is. Now things can go back to normal. Welcome back! :0)

  15. Yes! Home is with John and the boys! And now Newt! We’ve moved so much (this is our 5th house, 3rd state in 10 years), but each new place feels like home when we’re together.

  16. Welcome back!

    Home is where my little family is. North Carolina became my home when my husband and I moved here three years ago. It’s nice being in New York with all of my friends and family, but I don’t feel HOME until I get back to North Carolina and I’m with my husband, my cats and my dog.

  17. I am so surprised in one respect, but it also affirms what I often heard from my clients. Dogs are just more settled at home where everything is familiar. I’m glad Honey was comfortable and happy while you were away.

  18. Home for me is a combination of where I am and who I’m with. I always felt at home at my grandparents’ house more than anywhere else, but then they moved back to Alabama, where they’d both grown up and felt like home to them. I began visiting them in the summers with my sister when I was about eleven years old, and it was still home, even though it was a new house. There was still a certain comfort level to it that was reassuring to me in a life filled with a lot of turmoil and uncertainty in other places.

    For me now, this house is home, but so are my husband and the dogs. I could leave the building with them and still feel at home, and I could still be here in the house with some of them and I’d still be home. But in my perfect world, we’re all here together!

  19. Honey sounds like a very together personality. Of all my 6dogs, little Izzy is the one who is so upset that I left him( every two weeks for three days I go take care of my elderly Mother) that when I return he stands, all of 6 inches high, and barks at me in a manner that can only be described as hysterical scolding. He’ll even follow me into the bathroom and let me have it while I’m on the friggin toilet.

    I love him.

  20. Because my life was so uprooted and I have always wanted a home I could call mine, I’d have to say that it would have to be a package deal with Mark, all the animals and a home for it to really feel complete.

    Welcome home Pamela.

  21. Since mom retired she’s home a lot and I love it. The only thing that happens now is that she spends too much time on her MAC or watching TV She always wants me to sit next to her and she pets me, but it’s not the same. She’s not giving me her full attention so I don’t stay long but I sit in front of her and make noises. After a bit, I think she feels guilty so she gets up and sits on the floor with me. Then I stay for a long time. You have to train humans.

    Net, net, find a way to make them feel guilty. Then even if they have no time for you, they will fit you in. Ha, ha, ha – guilt always works in a Jewish home.

  22. Oh, so true! Home is where the heart is, right? When we went away for a few days for our anniversary, we rented a cabin and me and my hubby felt at home. We could mostly stick to our normal routines of coffee and relaxing in the morning. But we didn’t have the dogs with us, so it really just wasn’t the same.
    When I go away with my sisters sometimes, my hubby always tells me the dogs are unsettled at night, just like Honey was, barking at every noise and running downstairs. They keep thinking I must be home, I believe, and seem to know the family isn’t complete even with just one of us gone!

  23. You’ve described Blackie, the love of my life. From the first time we ever took care of her (and we used to take care of her a lot more than we do now), she has treated our house like her house. If I come and pick her up (rather than having her owner drop her off), she races to my car with incredible enthusiasm. She has that calm trust that people will take care of her wherever she is.

    But even after four years with us, Our Best Friend is insecure, and barks like mad when we leave and goes nuts when we go home. If Freud hadstudied traumas in puppyhood, Our Best Friend would have been his first case study.

  24. So glad to have you back, and I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

    I have a shirt that says “Home is Where the Dog Is” and I think it holds pretty true in my case. :)