…To a Good Home

Chihuahua mix puppy

Mike thinks he looks like a bat. I think he looks like a deer. But we both agree he is a dear.

You’ve seen the ads on Craigslist or signs on store windows: “Dog. Free to a good home.”

But what’s a good home?

Predicting the Future.

Rescue organizations, shelters, and responsible breeders all have the job of making sure the animals in their care end up in good homes. They use questionnaires, references, and home visits to try to figure out if the person who wants a dog is going to be the right fit.

But as Honey’s breeder pointed out, every person who wants one of their puppies knows how to say the right things. Their job is to look past the carefully constructed good impression to find the best home for their dogs.

And just what is a good home anyway?

The Litmus Test.

Ask anyone who rescues dogs what comprises a good home and they won’t hesitate to tell you. And we in blogville have pretty strong opinions too. Sometimes the passions run so high that I’m not surprised when I read someone who believes that not feeding a dog a raw diet is a form of abuse.

(Side note: I’m very happy that I’ve fallen into a community of tolerant and supportive dog people here in blogville. I don’t think I could survive some of the battles that rage elsewhere.)

But someone who obsesses on “best practices” might not provide the best home for a dog.

I know for myself that although I feel guilty that I haven’t spent hours researching the best nutritional options for Honey, sometimes it’s just better to take a good long walk. And yeah, I could surf all over the internet trying to confirm my vet’s heartworm prevention protocol, but Honey’s ready for a game of tug.

It’s All About the Dog.

In the past, I’ve returned foster puppies to the SPCA to be adopted. But with Eddie, we agreed to have prospective adopters meet him here. Eddie just wasn’t happy in the shelter.

When the family who filled out an adoption application for Eddie came by, I asked myself, “How can you tell someone will be a good family for a dog?” I got my answer by watching.

Edie’s prospective family recognized he was a little timid around new people. So they didn’t force things or go too quickly. They coaxed him but didn’t chase after him as he jumped back. They understand that a little guy who had gone from stray to the shelter to a foster home to the shelter to another foster home (whew!) in just one week might be a little cautious and need some time.

They understood it’s all about the dog.

head shot of chihuahua mix dog

Good bye, lil pup. We've loved having you with us.

Eddie Goes Home.

Eddie (gee, I hope they come up with a name that better suits his personality) gets picked up by his new family this morning.

I have no doubt that Eddie will find himself loved and cared for the way he deserves to be. And I feel great about sending him to his new home.

I know they’ll all be very happy together.

Hop on.

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  1. Wow – that was fast. Yay, Eddie! Congratulations on another successful foster.

    I think you’re right – while we’d like to have quantitative measurements to assure our dogs go to good homes, often it’s simply a matter of observing, trusting your gut (and experience) and then jumping off the cliff hoping with all your heart you’ll find wings to fly.

    Have a great life, Eddie!

  2. Those are great ears!

  3. There are a number of varied opinions about the perfect way to care for a pet.
    I think that the most important way to care for your pet is to devote yourself to that pet just as the pet will undoubtedly devote himeself, or herself, to you. Do that, and you are going to do just fine.

  4. I agree ~ there’s more to finding the best home for a rescued dog than just the right answers on the adoption application. I run a small Canine Rescue in SE Minnesota and am getting more and more picky about whom I place dogs with. Even with that, there’s no guarantee. I thought that two of my rescues were going to their ‘forever’ homes yesterday. One of them did. To a wonderful family that I felt great about. But “Jill’s” new Mom never showed up. No phone call. Nothing. What went wrong? I’m not sure. We did the home visit and met her other dog and everything seemed to be good. However, if I’m completely honest (with myself!) I just had a funny feeling about the lady. Something I didn’t really like. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s not like I was afraid that she would be abusive or anything like that. Just something. I can remember praying on the ride home that Jill would have a loving home. I was worried. Another lesson learned ~ get a deposit! I didn’t bother because I was sure the adoption would be completed this week. So, Jill goes back on the ‘available dogs’ list. I believe it will be for the best. This time I’m going to pay attention to my gut feelings and if something doesn’t feel right ~ we’ll keep on looking!

    P.S. The dog on your header looks like my “Hero” ~ one of my rescues that I couldn’t give up so I paid the damn fee and adopted him mySELF! 😉

    Happy Weekend!

    • YES! I took two dogs on a home visit – one was the one the family wanted because of her story; the other is the one I though would better fit. Both did well, the family and children were great until a wonderful moment: the children sat down at their small table with a sandwich. Annie, the Beagle with the sad story, got up on the table and gently removed a sandwich; Muggle, the other dog, quietly sat in a corner, relaxing. I left them with Muggle. Annie is now my dog (and has been for years).

  5. That was FAST! Wasn’t it just yesterday that you got Eddie?

    Interesting question that. Before we got Georgia, we tried to look at another dog called Hercules (who is the brother of Atlas, one of Georgia’s boyfriends). He was being fostered at the time. We never did get to meet him – I don’t think the shelter thought we were good people. We were a bit peeved at the time but subsequently met 2 other couples in our neighbourhood who were also turned down by the same shelter (and who are great dog owners)!

    So yes, I do wonder how shelters decide. Not only prospective adopters but also foster families.

    Hercules’s foster got into trouble about a year later when her hubby came home (he was in the army) and found out she still had him. He forced her to get rid of Hercules, and the shelter then contacted us to see if we still wanted him. Poor dog.

  6. Yay for Eddie! I knew it wouldn’t take long. Small, cute little guys like him are always scooped up before one can blink. I am so happy he found a family who gets him. Congrats on another successful foster experience!

  7. He’s adorable! Congrats on a successful adoption :) I agree, it’s not about what they say, it’s how they interact with the dog (it’s also a good way to pick a pet sitter!).

  8. Wonderful Eddie posts and yeah for his new home! It is always tough as a rescue to ensure a new home. I’m learning some dogs are OK outside as long as they are still part of the family (gasp! not all dogs have to be inside dogs – though it is how I grew up). I’m saying “NO” to a man and his parents who, despite my telling them I don’t adopt out guard dogs, choose dogs at random who seem like good guard dogs; I finally said I had no dogs for them at all. Good homes don’t always have loads of money but have love, they understand dog (like Eddie’s adopters) and they abound in compassion. Good homes also know dogs are not children – they are dogs and need educations/training. I see adopted dogs at dog class where I go with Justus and different adoptables. I read my applications, check the references and go with my gut and God.
    Foster homes are priceless, Pamela and Mike; you are doing benefiting everyone involved – the dog, the family, the shelter and the karma you are sharing with the world.

  9. I think there have to be guidelines, but I also think we have to accept that just because another wouldn’t treat a dog the way I would, it doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing. And to be honest, I don’t particularly care for the ones that think they know everything. They always make me end up feeling bad and that I’ll never measure up.

  10. Those Craigslist (and other) ads really get to me.

    Especially when they say “free to a GOOD home”, as if to say “no, really, we mean it”.

    When I see Dobermans on there, I email, directing them to whatever rescue is closer. Sometimes I get a reply, sometimes I don’t.

    • So right! A team of caring people brought me a “free to good home” Craigslist dog, Tigger; he is a Plott hound mostly and now in our dog training prison program.

  11. You can’t know, unfortunately. Every time a leash changes hands, its a leap of faith in humanity. Sometimes that leap is rewarded with a beautiful relationship, and sometimes not.

  12. Great post (as always!). A great home is one that is flexible in doing what needs to be done to make sure the dog gets what they need. Sometimes, that being a little less married to your ideals. I hope sweet Eddie has a great home and all the love he could ever want!

  13. I’m so glad Eddie’s found a good home! I agree, the perfect home for one dog is not the perfect home for another, and sometimes it’s hard to tell people that. The heart wants what it wants, and that’s not always logical or rational. Too often many fall into the trap of puppy breath and big eyes.

    We have a boy in our class right now who loves dogs, but the kid is a wild man. He’s all over the place all the time. My teaching partner saw how he was with Morgan and Kuster when they came in and swore that boy needed a dog. I think that’s the last thing that boy needs. Fortunately, when my partner texted that to his grandmother (who is fighting for custody of him) she said, very simply, “no.” Not every home is right for a dog, either.

  14. Congratulations to Eddie on finding his new home! I often wonder about the “good home” question – mostly because in many people’s minds, we wouldn’t qualify. We live in less than 100 square feet, we don’t have a yard – much less a fenced one – and our schedule is always changing. I wonder if we’d even be allowed to adopt a pet! On the other hand, our boys are healthy and happy. They get plenty of exercise and we spend nearly every minute of every day with them. I guess someday we’ll have to cross that bridge … but for now we’ll just live our unconventional life happily together.

  15. A happy ending for Eddie!

    According to rescues, we are not a good home because we cannot have a fence. :(

    • You know, I wonder sometimes what will happen when we decide to adopt a second dog. We got Bella almost 10 years ago – we were living in an apartment at the time, too, and it didn’t seem to be a problem at all. But if I go to a different (or even the same) rescue group, is there something about me that would be a problem? I have a house with a fence now, but who knows if I have some other “problem” that would make me unfit!

      • I volunteer with several different rescue groups and each has it’s own set of rules and each works within (or outside of) those rules in their own way. I would recommend that if you run across a rescue that won’t work with you, just try another one.

        • I definitely agree – seems like they run the gamut. I definitely wouldn’t give up based on one rescue (and I rather hope the one I volunteer with would find me acceptable). :)

  16. Hooray for Eddie! I’m glad that the family seemed like a good fit.

    Really interesting post… it’s hard to determine what makes a “good” home – as you point out, there’s more to it sometimes than purely objective factors. It’s such a subjective determination, in a way – there are “right” answers, but when it comes down to it, how are we to know if a loving and wonderful relationship will develop? We can only use our senses to guess what might happen. Of course there are warning signs and red flags, but I do think that often there’s a gray area in between. For example, if a prospective adopter isn’t going to feed raw, should that be enough to foreclose the possibility of an otherwise wonderful match? I hope not, but I guess it’s up to the particular rescue group.

  17. Yay Eddie!
    I applaud rescues for trying to ensure a good home. It can’t be easy.
    A friend of mine applied for a dog from a shelter but they wouldn’t let her adopt because she didn’t have a client relationship with a previous veterinarian. This is because she didn’t own a dog before (except as a kid, but not since being on her own). That rule didn’t make much sense, she would have been a good home. She went on to give a good home to a dog from a nice breeder.

  18. I’m very pleased for Eddie, but also a bit sorry to see him leave you:) He’s such a little cutie I was hoping to see him around for a bit longer!

  19. I think the rescues are doing the best they can to screen people, but many times they turn people away for a variety of reasons.

    Before we got Delilah we were turned down for a puppy because we didn’t have someone home during the day. Not even a call to ask if we could make arrangements to come home for a break or have someone come in for a break.

    Sampson was crate trained and we both worked and he turned out to be a wonderful dog, he got one break in the middle of the day by my mom and she would take him outside when it was time for me to come home so he could greet me.

    I know a woman who does Newf rescues and won’t place the dog unless the house has a fence. Sometimes I just don’t get it.

  20. eddie is soooo cute! is he a chihuahua mix?

    i really agree about how hard it can be to figure out what a good home is for a dog. some rescues have these really strict rules governing who can adopt, but even if you “pass” that doesn’t really mean you have the best home for the dog. it would be so much better if this was regulated somehow and if all rescues were able to do home visits (i know that’s really hard to find staff/time for)–and if there were some sort of rule/law/policy in regards to training the dogs once they get home.

    i know some folks who really don’t understand what a dog needs to be balanced and happy, but they have a nice home and good jobs and can provide for the dog in that way and have had dogs as kids and were given a reference, so the rescue let them adopt a puppy. the dog went to puppy school, but none of that work is kept up–and nothing more has been done–and the dog doesn’t get enough exercise and (for my taste) is left home alone too often. and these are people who consider the dog a family member and not “just a dog”, so i understand how it can be so so so difficult to assess who is adopting. i don’t know that i if i were in charge somehow that i WOULDN’T have let them adopt a dog, ya know?

    it’s too bad there’s no checks and balances in place for down the line. much like i think you should have to retake your road test and written test for a driver’s license every ten years, i think it would be amazing if the rescue/shelter/breeder were able to check on the family every few years to see how things are going.