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Dog must go to a ‘good’ home

What is a good home for a dog or a cat?

I believe my pets have a good home.

Ace, Beamer and Scout get daily attention from me. They all eat grain-free, natural food. They go to the vet when they are sick. They are neutered. I never leave them home for more than eight hours, usually no more than two or three.

Ace sleeps in my bedroom most nights. When we leave town for more than a week, the whole crew stays at my parents’ house so they don’t have to go to a kennel. Ace goes for walks and to training classes. He gets to meet other dogs. I’ve even set up kitty playdates for my cats.

But how do I define a good home?

I know very well there are people out there who believe I am not providing a good home for my pets.

On a walk last fall a woman approached me and (without asking and without introducing herself) reached for Ace in an attempt to loosen the choke collar around his neck.

“I would never put one of those on my dogs,” she said.

I looked down at her rat terriers pulling against their little harnesses.

“You don’t have a 65-pound dog,” I said.

Still, we were able to keep it friendly and agree to disagree. We even let our dogs run and play off leash at the park we were at.

Many dog owners would consider me irresponsible for allowing my dog off leash in an unfenced park. They might say I shouldn’t have a dog.

Ace gets to run and play off leash in an unfenced area almost every day. I see that as a good thing.

No two dog owners are ever going to agree on the ideal way to treat a dog. That doesn’t mean one is better than the other.

I require my dog to yield to me in doorways. I make him sit and stay before he gets fed. I yell at him. I don’t allow him on the furniture. I use a prong collar and a shock collar.

Some dog owners can’t imagine something as “cruel” as a shock collar (also called an e-collar). My parents have an electronic dog fence, and because of the shock collar Ace wears when we visit, he gets full freedom on their property. Again, I see that as a good thing.

All of the above are just a few examples why someone might believe I am not providing my dog with a “good” home.

I’ve learned to look at dog ownership differently.

Just because someone does not treat a dog the way I treat a dog does not mean that person is a bad dog owner.

All the dogs I know are happy and spoiled and loved, even if their owners treat them differently than I would treat a dog.

Through my pet sitting business in Fargo, I’ve basically seen it all. Thankfully, I haven’t come across any cases I would consider animal abuse. But I will say my definition of abuse has changed.

Many of my clients keep their dogs outdoors or in the garage in all weather. Some have heated or air-conditioned garages. Some don’t. These dogs are for the most part able to take care of themselves as long as someone checks on them daily to give them food, water and a little interaction.

All of these dogs are happy and loved.

I also have clients who will not leave their dogs home alone for more than an hour. Some will not leave their dogs alone at all. They would never leave their dogs in a crate. They would never leave them tied up outside. The dogs are allowed on the furniture and under the covers.

All of these dogs are happy and loved.

I am not concerned if someone chooses to keep a farm dog or cat outdoors as long as the animal is vaccinated, spayed/neutered and given appropriate shelter and food. I am not concerned if someone chooses to feed her dog the cheapest kibble. I am not concerned if someone never walks her dog. I am not concerned if a dog never masters the concept of sitting on command.

Dogs are dogs, and they seem to do OK regardless.

Ace is one lucky dog (in my opinion), but he was also happy and loved before he came to live with me.

At his first home, Ace was not trained or exercised. He spent most days and nights in his kennel. He ate cheap food. No one wanted to spend much time playing with him.

But when I went to meet my potential new dog, Ace was happy and wagging and playful. I could tell he was loved and well cared for, even if it was on a basic level. He had no concept of a better life. He was happy with what he had – food, water, toys, shelter, vet care and companionship. His family cared about him enough to help him find a new home where he could get more attention. They did not send him to a rescue group, a pound or a shelter.

So how would I define a “good” home?

A good home provides a dog with all his basic needs. And a good home provides a dog with security, companionship and love.

What do you think? Am I right or wrong on this?

Black lab mix lying in the sun wearing an e-collar


Sunday 14th of December 2014

A prison is required by law(in USA) to provide 'nutritionally sound" food, shelter, clothing, medical care and some basic form of recreation for prisoners. Many of the inmates are exceptionally physically fit, mentally sound, well rested, clean and healthy. There are prison staff who look after their needs, even though most care little if the individual prisoner lives or dies . Very few prisoners would say they prefer to live there. Is prison a good home? Dogs most basic need, after food and shelter and rest, is to have a family, it is why and how they live.


Monday 6th of May 2013

Do you find homes just for dog? if not what animals do you find homes for?


Tuesday 23rd of April 2013

Awesome post! I love your site and your down-to-earth attitude about dogs. Remember when people could live their lives without advice and judgment flying at them from every direction every minute of the day? Our society doesn't seem to respect personal boundaries anymore. Everyone feels free to comment on the way everyone else lives their they raise their dogs, their kids, what they put in their mouths, etc. There's no one size fits all for anything in life! I walk my dogs a lot because I live in an apartment and one of them really thrives on exercise. The other one would happily lie in bed for a month straight! I use prong collars because I find a mesh harness doesn’t work so well on a 120 pound beast ;) My dogs are trained to walk at my side on a slack leash and don’t seem bothered by their prong collars at all, although a lot of humans we walk by seem bothered by them. Different strokes for different folks/mutts… One of the best things about dogs is their ability to make the best out of a situation, to find happiness in the smallest things, to be forgiving and loving by default. I do think there are basic things that all dogs deserve, like STRUCTURE, love, shelter, and food. Beyond that, dogs are a lot better at being happy with what they have than us humans and sometimes I think we forget that they function differently than we do. They don’t spend their time thinking about what they could or should have. They live in the moment, which is what makes them such great role models…

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 24th of April 2013

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! So true! :)


Wednesday 18th of April 2012

Yes, very good post Lindsay! I often feel guilty about how little I walk Brick, but other than that I think he has a good life too. Even though he doesn't "get out" much, we make up for it with a good ol' ball toss down the hallway.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 18th of April 2012

Brick is in a wonderful home. Most of all, he is very, very loved and he loves his family, too!


Wednesday 14th of September 2011

My first post on this fantastic site and I kinda agree.

A good home is one that provides the pet with security, peace of mind and love. If you can make your dog (or cat) feel relaxed and at ease at home, while also giving it tons of love and of course exercise and stimulance, then you pretty much doing everything right.

As we all know, just love and security does not cut it with many dogs - daily exercise is a must. As a brand new Podenco Canario owner, I pretty much believe these are the cornerstones of being a good dog owner and providing a good home for a dog.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 14th of September 2011

I believe a dog must have a lot of exercise. However, I do not believe it is one of the credentials for a "good home." The reason I say this is because most high-energy dogs are not exercised enough (if at all), and they are very loved and happy anyway.