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August 13, 2007

Comments

Ann

This is a very nice post, and I want to see how others react to this.

cathy

I ENJOYED YOUR IMPUT ON DOGS TRANSITIONS. I AM AWARE OF THIS AND AM HAVING A HARD TIME GIVING OUR DOG LAB SHEP OF 8 YRS. AWAY. SHE IS SO USED TO US. IT 'S HARD FOR HER TO GO TO A DIFFERENT HOME. SHE DOESN'T LIKE CAGES SINCE SHE WAS ADOPTED FROM ONE. DOESN'T LIKE OTHER DOGS TOO MUCH. LIKES CATS. WHAT IS YOUR IMPUT FOR ME?? THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.

Sheila

Hi Cathy,

Thanks for your comment. Your timing is impeccable—soon, we'll be launching additional editorial content for pet owners on Care.com, including expert Q+A. Here's some interim advice from Care.com Pets Editor, Melissa Massello:

As the owner of an 8-year-old dog myself, I can relate. Dogs, like people, need structure and routines. They're also very loyal, and bond tightly with one person or one family—especially in a rescue situation like yours, your lab-shepherd mix has probably bonded pretty tightly with you since you've shown her kindness and love for the first time. Transitions to new places and new people will give her understandable anxiety, and unlike humans, you can't explain the situation to her to settle her nerves. I'm unsure if by "giving away" you're looking for advice on finding great, regular pet care, or if you're looking for advice on finding adoption resources, so here are my suggestions for both:

Pet sitting:

Instead of dropping your pooch off with another family or kennel, hire a pet sitter to come to your home while you're away (like a house sitter who loves dogs.) It seems you both would benefit from this solution, and these days this alternative is getting to be even easier and more cost-effective than traditional pet care options. Join a free online community for pet owners like www.PawSpot.com to create a profile for your mutt. You can then trade or barter pet sitting with other nearby pet owners (like a traditional child care co-op), or post an ad for adoption (if this is what you are seeking). Or, you can join a service like Care.com to find local, prescreened pet sitters in your ZIP Code. Remember to always check references, run a criminal background check, and conduct a thorough interview in person with your dog to confirm the right fit.

Adoption:

Making the decision to give your dog away is an emotional, frustrating, and guilt-ridden experience, and it's one that's rife with opinion in our culture over whether or not it's even acceptable. To the people who say it isn't, I say get real. This Slate.com article, written last year by Emily Bazelon, remains an all-time favorite of mine, outlining the reality even ardent dog lovers face when life throws a curveball and it's actually in the dog's best interest to find them a new "forever home": http://www.slate.com/id/2140674/. Be sure to read to the end.

Since your dog is now in her senior years, and given the fact that she was a rescue and seems to have residual separation anxiety, finding a home that can provide her lots of attention, affection, and a consistent routine is crucial. The right match might be an "empty nester" (person or couple with grown children) or single person who is home most of the time. You've mentioned she doesn't like other dogs, but likes cats, so the new person or family should only have a cat or small mammal in the house (and if they have kids, they should be positive that getting a dog is something they all want and can handle).

If you do go the shelter route, be sure to find a no-kill shelter, or search for breed-specific rescue organizations. Contact your local ASPCA or Humane Society branch to obtain a list of dog rescue agencies near you. Post an adoption flyer outlining your ideal situation at your veterinarian's office, and list your lab mix on www.PetFinder.com's Pet Adoption Network, which can also provide you with pet placement assistance or put you in touch with rescue agencies by breed or location. If you decide to go it alone, remember that just as with pet sitters, you'll need to do a thorough screening, interviewing, and background check process before sending your canine companion off to live with new people. Once you find the right fit, follow up a few weeks into the arrangement to make sure that everything is working out, and if possible, set up a check-in visit at their home to confirm your pet is in good hands. You'll rest easier in the long run knowing the choices you've made for your adoring dog are in her best interest.

Kami

I have a 2 year old Yorkie, and I am slated to have a bone marrow transplant in August. I really don't have anyone to take care of him while I undergo the treatment. I am told it will take at least 90 days before I can be released back into the real world. Family is not in the area, and friends all ran for the hills when I asked. Please any suggestions you have is greatly appreciated!

Sheila

Kami,

I'm so sorry to hear about your transplant. Here is my advice for finding loving care for your Yorkie while you undergo treatment and recovery:

First, if you have the means, I would sign up for a Care.com membership as a pet care seeker. We have hundreds of trustworthy and reliable pet sitters enrolled in our service, many of whom I'm confident would be more than willing to negotiate prices with you for long-term pet sitting, given the circumstances.

If that's not an option for you at this time, I would highly recommend getting in touch with the Yorkshire Terrier rescue organization closest to where you live. It's a bit of a unique situation, but almost all breed-specific rescues coordinate foster programs as part of their mission, and may have the best advice or solutions for you.

You could also call or e-mail the University of California at Davis, which has a nationwide network for placing dogs whose owners enter critical care.

Hope this helps, and wishing you all the best for success and a speedy recovery.

Best, Sheila

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