As most of you know, we're a dog foster family. We've helped rescue, foster and home over 25 dogs in the two years that we've been fostering. I work with a rescue that has a very high turn over rate in an area that's very pro adoption.
With a high rate of adoptions, you would think there would be a significant rate for returns, however, our rescue has an application process, vet check, reference checks, interviews, home visits if needed and follow up communication to make sure the adoption is working out. Our dogs are all vetted and behavior tested before coming to us, and by being in a foster home, we can further assess the dogs behaviors and likes/dislikes and provide some training while we have them. We try to limit returns as much as we can and have a less than 5% return rate. If there's an issue with an adoption, we offer our behaviorist to work with the family to see if it's a resolvable issue. Most of the time she works wonders and the dog is able to stay in their home. Sometimes, it's just not the right match or the family just isn't willing to put in the time. We always take our dogs back, me especailly.
I try my best to get to know each and every dog that walks into our home. I try to recognize what I think this dog will need in their forever home and I do my best to make sure everything is lined up for the dog to succeed. I tell each person interested in my dog all of the bad things I can think of about each dog... if you know the worst and you're still interested we've got something to work on. If I hear that there's an issue with one of my dogs, I know there's something wrong in the household that isn't right for my foster dog...
I believe each and every one of my foster dogs to be my own dogs. They all have a place in my heart and will forever have a place in home. So, to me, returning one of my foster dogs is personal, very emotional and also a little frustrating. I put in my time to screen you to make sure you would be good enough for my dog. I told you the ugly, the bad, the good and the best aspects of this dog and you either chose not to listen, lied to me about your ability or willingness to work with them or didn't think through the time, effort and energy it takes for a dog. A lot of you were around for Oreo last year and her heartbreaking history of returns before finally finding her perfect home.
But, how do you know that you're a forever home? Is it the love you have for the dog? The perfect environment you may have for the dog? The best schedule to accomidate a dog? The connection between you and the dog?
This post comes from a phone call I received Tuesday evening from Brutus' dad. He's worried that he's not home enough and that his schedule isn't fair to Brutus. I know the thought that Corbin might be happier in a different home has crossed my mind plenty of times before. Maybe our yard isn't big enough for him, he'd be happier with a bigger yard. Maybe someone who is home more often to spend time with him, we work every day and sometimes have things going on at night and he's left alone. Maybe it's really not fair for him to bring him to the lake and take him out of the comfort of his home for a weekend -we weren't able to do that this year because of his mystery medical condition and heart medications, but we did last year and plan on it again pending Corbin's health.
How do you know your dog is happy? How do you know that keeping your dog is a mutual love and not just a selfish act on yourself to have a faithful companion?
I no longer think that Corbin would be better off in another home, I haven't thought that for a while. I know very few families that would have put the time into Corbin in the beginning, and the continued training we do with him to keep him a happy, friendly dog. I know very few families who would have spent over $6,000 on a mystery pain that we still have yet to diagnose. Corbin didn't need long to figure out we were his people, and maybe that made our decision to adopt him easier. He knew he was home, he was comfortable in our home and he captured our hearts like no other. Would he like a bigger yard? Absolutely... but is he complaining about the size of his current yard? Nope, plenty of room to chase his ball. Would he like us to be home more often? You betcha... but does he complain when he goes in his crate every morning? Nope, he runs down the hall to his crate so fast, I can't keep up. I know in my heart that Corbin is happy with us. What we provide for him is enough and he's happy and grateful for every second he gets with us.
I explained to Brute's dad that he was treated as our own dog. We didn't feel guilty if we had to run out after work and were gone for a few extra hours, and that he was semi used to that schedule. Brutus is the type of dog where it doesn't matter what you have or how much time you really have to spend with him... as long as the time you do have for him is 100% for him and he can sit on your lap and be pet while you watch TV, he's a happy happy dog. I also gave him a few options... possibly hiring a dog walker on his long days, or scheduling him to go to doggie daycare. Maybe having a family member or a friend stop in to spend some time with him for an hour or so.
I know he really loves Brutus, how could you not love that slobbery moose? But how do you know that you're not being selfish in keeping your pet?