Advice regarding adoption

covingtoncatFebruary 16, 2012

I could use some advice and suggestions please. In the last year we have lost both of our aged, special needs dogs. Eight months after our first passed, we got a puppy. Within four months our remaining elder also passed.

One day last week when I was feeling the loss especially keenly, I happened upon an add for placement for a 3 year old needing a home. Something about it just hit me and I replied to the add. I have had a few conversations with the woman who is looking to re-heome (supposedly due to loss of job). She seems like a nice lady and I'm just wondering if you all can offer some advice as to what I should be asking. She says her dog is healthy and house trained and has no behavioral issues.

He is three and if we adopted him we would be his third family. This is a red flag to me. Not to say it isn't plausible, but why would this dog be going to his third family in 3 years if there are no health or behavioral issues? I don't want to offend this lady, and she has said she will turn over his vet records (currently his shots need updating). I am somewhat skeptical, having adopted 3 animals who's true story turned out to be different than what was put forth.

I would love to give a dog who needs a home a good home. But having been thru the special needs situation before, I do not wish to knowingly take it on again. I told her this and she said he is healthy now, but there are no guarantees.

What would you all suggest?


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Unfortunately, there are no guarantees, even with a puppy. DS bought a puppy from a well known breeder (who shows) and at 3 years of age they're now dealing with a spinal problem.

I think the best you can do is to call the vet and talk to them, then go and see the dog. If the dog checks out health wise, the next step would be to make sure he gets along well with your current dog. Ask to meet the owner at a dog park or a quiet area where you can introduce your puppy to the older dog.

It could be this dog just need obedience training and no one has taken the time to work with him. You might also ask if he's a barker, but you may not get an honest answer. He could also just be a dog that has lots of energy and the previous owners just weren't educated about the breed. Once you see the dog in person, I think the most important questions will be answered.

What breed is he?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 12:18PM
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I agree with calling the dog's current vet and asking the staff at that clinic about their history with the dog and his owner. Also, it would be a good idea to speak with the owner's neighbors. If the dog is a barker, aggressive, destructive, or has been abused, the neighbors will most likely know about it.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 12:58PM
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I could very well be that the first owner of the dog just wasn't ready for it; it might not have had anything to do with the dog. I would ask her about that.

I'd see if she'd be willing to give me some alone time with the dog in my own house maybe on a Saturday afternoon. That would give you a chance to get to know the dog and you'd probably pick up on any unwanted behaviors (like housebreaking lol). Granted the dog will be a little nervous but he's going to have to go through this anyway if you adopt him.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 2:03PM
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I would not recommend taking possession of the dog at all until you are certain you want to adopt him. You don't know anything about this "nice lady". She may refuse to take him back after a "trial afternoon", or she may make herself completely unreachable. Visiting the dog at her home is one thing. Taking him off of her property and into your own possession is another. Don't do it until you're ready to make it permanent.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 3:51PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions. The dog is the same breed as our puppy, a Cavalier Spaniel. These are not high energy, aggressive or destructive dogs as a rule. I realize there are always exceptions, however. I am familiar with the breed (I did my research - LOL). Usually they are pretty passive lap-type dogs once past the puppy stage. I am currently in obedience training with our pup and I can't believe I forgot to ask about that. WOW! Great reminder.

So you all don't think it would be possibly offensive to ask her for her vet references? She did ask me for mine and I provided them. I don't know if she called to follow up or not. That is a really good suggestion and would most definitely raise a red flag if she didn't want to give it to me. I probably shouldn't be so worried about what she will think and make my priority the info I need in order to make a good decision. It is not something I take lightly.

I do not know if he is a pure bred or has papers or not. It is not really important to me either way other than having a traceable history for health and genetics if needed. I have no interest in breeding whatsoever. Our pup is getting neutered very soon.

She seems to be doing the right thing by asking for vet references, home checks and a sizable re-homing fee. I'm just not comfortable letting an individual from an add who is not connected to an adoption or rescue group into my home at this point. I was going to suggest meeting at the local petco to see how we all interact first. My home is a short distance away - 3 miles..

I will be asking her to explain more about his history and how she came to adopt him, any obedience training and for his veterinary info. These are all great suggestions.

Am I missing anything else? Thank you so much.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 4:57PM
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Caveliers are generally sweet dogs as you know. I agree with everything everyone said. Ask for her vet records and take your dog to her place or a mutual place to see how they interact. If she asked for your vets name, it's a good sign she may be on the up and up, but don't take chances. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 5:50PM
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A sizable rehoming fee more than entitles you to any and all information and history related to this dog, his training, his ownership history, his veterinary care, etc. If his owner gets insulted by your inquiries, so be it. You certainly don't want to be turning a large chunk of cash over to anyone who's not willing to be completely forthcoming and honest with you.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 7:54PM
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there are some valid reasons the dog has been in 2 homes already other than behavioral or health of the dog. Financial problems/foreclosure, illness,death of an owner, or an owner who's too busy to care for the dog.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 10:00AM
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You have already put enough energy into this that it's obvious you want the dog so maybe it's all for not. Like others have said, there are lots of reasons it's finding a home for the 3rd time, regardless of what they are, how sad that this poor thing has had to adapt to so many new places. If she's a breed you are comfortable with, you have the vet records and you are prepared to train, I would take her and hope for the best. At the very least, you may be providing a home for a pet who otherwise may find itself in a terrible situation by no fault of its own.

I have a bird like that. He was skittish and fearful and was mishandled by the store that sold him. When I was interested in him, they even told me he'd never make a good pet. He left with me that day and after a lot of work and loving care, he's turned out to be a very sweet little guy.

Just trust your instincts.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 2:08PM
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I contacted her this morning asking for her vet info and also more about his history. She texted me back this afternoon saying her fiancé had taken him to work this morning and re-homed him to his boss.

I feel really shocked that she would do that but it tells me something in an of itself.

I hope all works out for this poor dog who seems to have been shuffled around a lot in his few short years.

Thank you all for your advice and suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 4:56PM
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I'm sorry it turned out that way but at least you tried.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Next time you find an ad for a particular breed, ask why the dog isn't being returned to the breeder. Responding to single ads for dogs being 'rehomed' is what keeps those ads coming and what keeps backyard breeders in business. Go through a responsible rescue group, or go to your local pound. These dogs will have been assessed behaviorally and will be up to date on vet care. There are groups all over the country and they will have a process to screen you and allow you to screen the dog. Here's the list of Cavalier rescues in the US.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cavalier rescue groups by state

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 7:19AM
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I have to disagree some with Cynthia's post, my sister has adopted TWO dogs from "a responsible and well known rescue group", both were grossly misrepresented as being healthy, well adapted pets. Within months of each adoption, she spent literally thousands on medical care for them and is now required to make special foods for each of them to eat.

Originally, we also wanted to go through a "well known rescue" to adopt, the first dog was grossly misrepresented as being an older Shepard puppy, when it ended up being a 13 year old Samoyed mix. The other "well known rescue" made it so difficult to adopt, we got frustrated and bought our puppy from a private family. I don't know nor do I care if they were a "backyard breeder", I saw both the parents and they were beautiful, healthy, well adjusted dogs. All eleven of the puppies were rollie pollie butter balls of healthy happy energy. Even though she was a young 6 weeks, our puppy never cried for her mother and has been one of the best well behaved puppies I've ever owned. She's 7 months old now and a valued member of our family.

After months of research and this last experience I finally came to the conclusion that unless you are willing to spend 1000's for a dog (which I'm NOT) it's is pretty much the luck of the draw no matter where you acquire your dog from. You just have to use a little bit of good judgement and ask a lot of questions. I feel like the experiences we had with the rescue were much like buying a used car. You have no history of where that car has been, how well it has been taken care of or why the owner has chosen to let it go. I commend the rescue effort but let's be honest, there is a lot of misrepresentation with in that circle. I also commend the OP for her efforts, it may not have turned out the way she wanted but it was sure great that she cared enough to try.

Sorry, couldn't resist a chance to share!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 1:43PM
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Lukkirish - Not sure what 'well known rescue' has to do with anything - Why would that matter? My post suggested working with a responsible group. Period. You seem to have translated that into something else??

Anyway - The idea is to identify a responsible group and trust your judgements when working with any group. Do your homework. The group which took more time was probably not willing to just plop a dog into your home without ensuring you were trained and prepared to deal with the dog you were interested in and provide him/her a forever home.

I hope your puppy (who is adorable) grows up well socialized. Adopting at 6 weeks of age is extremely early to separate the dog from it's mother and siblings and doesn't give the pup a chance to learn appropriate behaviors (like bite inhibition.)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 6:30PM
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Lukkiirish - your pup is adorable! Labs (I'm guessing?) make wonderful companions. They are so smart and good natured.

Cynthia - thanks for your suggestion. I am aware of breed specific and other rescue groups. I have adopted from rescue agencies before.

Unfortunately, my experience was similar to both Lukki's and her sister. Either they wanted us to jump thru so many hoops we felt like we were suspected criminals or the health and/or age was misrepresented. I've had two failed adoptions and three success stories but all have or had special health needs or behavioral issues which were NOT disclosed at the time of the placement. WIth the two that failed, the first one ended up needing an amputation, and the second one had three surgeries in as many months. Both were represented as being "healthy." My only request originally was for a healthy dog.

Still, most of these folks are trying to do right by the animals in their care. I recognize that and am very appreciate of their work and dedication.

Some are just too overzealous and I prefer not to go thru the additional stress associated with having to deal with all the hoopla. I want a pet, not a child. Background checks, home visits and vet checks feel like an invasion of my privacy. I really don't like being made to wonder if they will find me worthy.

Even when you do your homework, there are no guarantees.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 7:39PM
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Cynthia, my terms may have been incorrect but the spirit of my post isn't. Everyone we talked to insisted we should go through a rescue when we were looking for our girl. We made contact with several and each one had it's share of problems. The animals were in what I would consider less than ideal housing, the breeds were not accurate, histories were never clear and the hoops they expected us to jump through were unrealistic. When we finally chose another direction, we were made to feel like scum for not supporting the rescues. We answered one of those single ads and they were not backyard breeders at all but just a family who had 11 puppies in need of homes. I don't think there is anything wrong with answering an ad as long as you use due diligence to ensure that the animals are coming from a clean safe environment. To say that they are all back yard breeders was not accurate from my experience. I disagree with your response but we are all entitled to our opinions, ours just seem to differ, sorry if I came across strong, I'm still a little sensitive about our experience I guess.

I realize taking her that young was not ideal, but our vet suggested the puppy camp and we signed her up as soon as she was old enough. It's amazing how well that worked, she still goes two - three times a week for exercise and loves it. Thanks to camp, her overall behavior is very different from the way other owners describe their labs, she's very quiet and well behaved.

Thanks Covingtoncat, this is the first time I've owned a lab and I'm in puppy love! Your so right, they are all that and more!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 9:19PM
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Getting a dog that's been in 2 homes before isn't necessarily a bad thing. I got my Aussie when she had just turned 5 and I'm her FIFTH and LAST owner. She is 10 now, and is the best dog I've ever had. Sweet, friendly responsive, can't ask for a better dog. The people who had her before I got her had her for the wrong reasons, and she was never mistreated, and her wonderful disposition wasn't affected by it at all.

She's the Aussie, with her pal, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, both great dogs.

I don't know your prospective dog's history, but you can get someone to do a temperament evaluation, or maybe the rescue could, or maybe they could let you keep her for a week or two to see how good a fit you are.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 7:56AM
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And I've adopted dogs from various rescue groups after one quick meet-n-greet ... with the dogs backgrounds being virtually unknown. And they all turned out to be great pets.

One dog I adopted from a local SPCA ... they told me things about the dog that turned out to not be true ... had to return the dog to them after he turned out to NOT be cat friendly ...

So, go with your gut ... meet the dog and make your decision.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 4:22PM
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Just a little head's up, be sure and if you adopt from a rescue, you get in writing to be able to have your adoption fee returned for a certain amount of days let's say 2 weeks perhaps, if the dog does not work out. A lady I know, just adopted a dog and paid a lot of money only to find out after a couple days that this puppy had serious behavioral problems...when she had to give the dog back after two days, they refused to give her money back plus they made her feel like she was the problem and even though this dog would attack her older dog(unprovoked), the rescue turned it around and said it must have been her dog that was the problem...they even put this on their website! So even though they have information that tells them this dog should be an only dog in the household, they actually are lying about this dog. I mean in whose interest is that?! It's certainly not in the dog's best interest! That puppy even attacked her dog when her dog was sleeping!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 8:57AM
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