Essay: Does “Re-homing” Have to Be a Dirty Word?

Jen Bradley’s daughter with their dog when it was a puppy.
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Among dog lovers, “re-homing”—that is, giving a dog away to another home—represents a failure on the part of the original owner. But Jen Bradley argues that her family made every effort to accommodate their new puppy, going as far as hiring three separate trainers, but they simply could not make the relationship work:

The truth is, I’d given the dog way too many chances. Way more than I thought I would. But she was one of us, and I knew how heartbroken my kids would be to lose her, so I felt like we should keep trying. Yet, I was always worried about what could happen next.

This was not very helpful for my own relationship with the dog. She became increasingly neurotic, gated away from us for much of the day. We tried to expand her territory in the house, but she had to be watched if there were kids around, so it was a tricky balance.

What do you think? Are there just some human-dog situations that don’t work out?

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3 thoughts on “Essay: Does “Re-homing” Have to Be a Dirty Word?”

  1. NOT ACCEPTABLE! when you adopt or buy a dog you take responsibility for its care and happiness for the pet’s lifetime.

  2. I think people should certainly spend more time understanding specific breeds that suit families,breeds that are lower vs higher energy, etc. BEFORE they go out and get a puppy because it should be a lifetime commitment. In the case described in this story re-homing seems like it would be better for everyone including the dog. There is no reason the dog should have an unhappy gated ‘neurotic’ life if there is someone out there that is a better fit. This is of course assuming that the owner sees this through and doesn’t just dump the dog at a shelter. Also I am assuming this is a ‘puppy not a fit’ scenario and not a case where they are dumping their elderly dog to get a new puppy (deplorable).

  3. Hi! I wanted to directly respond to the well-meaning but misguided comment: “This is of course assuming that the owner sees this through and doesn’t just dump the dog at a shelter.”

    My daughter volunteers every week at a local shelter. While she works mostly with the cat area, I think the dynamics of this would work for dogs as well.

    Occasionally, you will have someone who, through no fault of their own, need to bring the dog/cat to the shelter because they can no longer care for it. Sometimes, elderly people reach the point in their lives where they can no longer care for themselves, much less their faithful pet. Extended family members aren’t always able to take the pet themselves. Sometimes, these pets turn up at the shelter where my daughter volunteers.

    Sometimes, pets are dropped off because the original owners were irresponsible. Unfortunately, that’s just the kind of world we live in.

    I would actually advocate that this family SHOULD have taken the dog back to a good reputable local shelter. Here’s why:

    The good reputable shelter will vet potential new owners, to make sure that they are good match for the pet. In some cases, the shelter where my daughter works will actually inspect the new residence where the pet is going, if they have reservations about the challenges the breed may give a prospective new owner. A well-run, professional shelter doesn’t just “dump” pets on people. They review that prospective adopter’s qualifications to take the pet and truly care for it. I know that’s what the shelter that my daughter volunteers at does. In fact, that shelter would probably be a better judge as to who would be the best to take care of that dog than this family just “rehoming” it to another family who may be just as unqualified to take care of the dog than the original family.

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