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Giving up a dog

Sometimes it’s best to re-home a dog

I try to be as compassionate to other people as I am to animals.

There is a lot of negativity around someone who decides to re-home an animal.

“Pets are for life.”

“Why would someone with a pitbull move to a place where pitbulls are not allowed?”

We are quick to judge when we know very little.

My mutt Ace is just one example of a dog who was re-homed.

Ace’s previous owner got him on a whim as a puppy. I think we’ve all heard that story before. She cared for him, gave him shelter and access to veterinary care. She taught him to go to the bathroom outside and to hang out by himself in a kennel. He got to grow up around another dog and also a cat.

His first owner did many things right, and she probably loved him.

But Ace’s first owner knew Ace wasn’t getting the attention or the time he needed in her home. He was probably also a financial burden.

Should she have kept him anyway?

I’m glad she didn’t, because now I have the dog of my life.

Sure, I could’ve found some other dog. And Ace would’ve been just fine living out his life with his first owner. He would do well in most homes. But things are definitely better this way.

Ace’s previous owner is a good person, and I hope she has opened her heart and home to another dog since parting with “Junior.”

What if the dog bites?

My parents – two of the world’s biggest dog lovers – gave up their American water spaniel when I was about 3. They took Abby to the vet to be put down for biting.

Sure, my parents probably did not train or socialize Abby properly. They definitely did not do their research before getting a puppy the way they did.

Did that mean they should keep the dog no matter what?

They didn’t think so.

Did it mean they should never have a dog?

Thankfully, no. They went out and got another puppy a few months later. They’ve had multiple spoiled, happy dogs ever since.

Foster dog Barkley

People have already said things to me about foster dog Barkley’s previous owner.

“Someone gave up on him after just two years?”

“But he’s a Yorkie!”

This is the first time I have taken in a foster dog directly from the original owner. This is very different for me than taking a dog from a pound where I don’t know the dog’s story. It’s easy to put blame on a person you have never met.

I could tell that Barkley’s original owner is a good, caring person.

Sometimes a dog gets to be too much, and it’s nobody’s fault.

In this case, the owner was putting herself and a family member before her dog. This is not something everyone has the courage to do. It’s difficult to give up a dog. It’s difficult to contact a rescue organization and admit you can’t fix a dog, a dog you have raised on your own.

I am dedicated to working with Barkley to help him build confidence and to help him cope with stress. He may be a cute, little Yorkie mix, but he is still a dog.

I don’t hold judgement against his previous owner for raising Barkley a certain way or for obtaining a puppy the way she did. I don’t blame her for letting him go. I hope she is at peace with her decision and that she will get another dog someday.

In the meantime, Barkley will wait for an experienced owner with no children to adopt him. A home with other pets would be just fine. He is a happy, friendly guy 99 percent of the time, but some situations scare him, and he needs some help.

I don’t mean to make Barkley sound like a bad dog. There is no such thing as a bad dog. I always want to remain positive when it comes to my foster dogs, but I also want to be real and honest.

Simply, Barkley is just a dog.

Have you ever given up a dog?

Update: Barkley was adopted!

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Thursday 11th of January 2018

I work 40 hour weeks and go to school full time. I got my dog at 16 I'm now 20. My dog is becoming too much to handle because I feel he isn't getting the right attention he needs and he keeps acting out. He has to stay in my bedroom when I'm not home due to my housing arrangements, but lately he has been pooping on my floor, peeing in the floor, peeing on my bed when I'm sleeping or not home, and pooping in my bed. I love this dog and give him all the attention I can when I'm home I mean I share my bed with my baby, but this is becoming too much to handle and I don't know what to do.


Tuesday 4th of October 2016

I have two Labs, females ,sisters, one black and one brown. Three yrs old, 4 in Dec. my husband dosen't like them cause they dig holes in the yard. Screams at them. They also eat chickens if they can. I heard of a program where wounded soliders really love having companion dogs. Have you heard of it? I saw it on evening news. I would like to contact the organization. I live in WA. state. thanks, Pat

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 5th of October 2016

Yes, I've heard of some programs like that.


Tuesday 16th of December 2014

Please tell me that I'm doing the right thing. My wife and I have a 4 1/2 year old yorkie poo who is energetic, loving, and has a magnetic personality, but we just can't keep him anymore. We have tried every avenue to give him the love and attention that he needs, but it just isn't working. My wife and I had our first child 9 months ago and it has eaten up any and all of the free time that used to be reserved for him. I work full time and am usually away from home for 12 hours a day. My wife works part time and brings the little one to her parents to watch her most days. When we're home, the baby demands a lot of the attention and we only have a little play time with him and the occassional walk. This leaves our little guy at home, by himself for most of the day every week day and (even though we try) we can't bring him most places on weekends. This is a far cry from him being the center of attention for most of his life. We celebrated birthdays, went to dog parks, the dog beach; he was a big part of the family. And, not that he isn't a big part anymore, but his role within our household has changed drastically and he is not doing well with it. His behavior is getting worse because he is no longer the center of attention, constant mischief when he isn't being paid any attention and when we are home now and want to play with him he seems uninterested and depressed. I have tried really hard to stay up later with him to cuddle, and that has helped a little, but this isn't the life that we want for our little guy. I'm tearing up as I write this, but I found a family for him that has three kids and other pets. They've wanted another dog for so long and through my research of them, they seem like a good fit. I don't want to let him go, but we have to for his sake. Meeting the new family and watching them interact with my little guy just about killed me and I know it will be hard when I give him up for good. Please no negative comments, this is hurting me just to write this.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

Hi James. It sounds like you are making the right decision, as hard as it is. While I think you could make it work if you kept your dog, it also seems like you believe you are helping him by finding him a new home. You know your dog best, and I'm sure you're making the right choice.

I have never re-homed a dog, so I can't imagine how hard it is. I adopted my dog directly from his previous owner, though, and it worked out really well. He was loved and cared for in his first home, and I appreciate that. As in your situation, the previous owner just knew she wasn't spending as much time with him as she would like. My dog adapted just fine to life with me, and he is my world.


Thursday 4th of September 2014

I've been wrestling with emotions of abandonment, failure, and depression since giving up my shelter dog. My husband and I got her very suddenly after a move. She was calm, according to the shelter. I even observed her several times before adopting her. I read all the research, books, and articles. I felt that I knew what was best. When we brought her home, I knew instantly I made a mistake. She was very energetic and full of mischief. Nothing like I was told. My husband and I live very mellow lives, she had the opposite. After a few days and getting as much advice as possible, I knew it wasn't going to happen. She seemed sad, she wanted what we couldn't give her. I contacted the shelter about a worker who wanted her before we adopted her. This worker was a vet student who fell in love with her. The shelter passed my number along and it was apparent she wanted and could give our dog a better life. I cried for hours the day we gave her up. That was nearly 3 months ago and i still feel pain. I cry and I have trouble sleeping. I wonder if I made a mistake, if she's happy, and how life would be with her. The new owner was very supportive and suggested that things happen. She didn't want me to give away her bed because we deserve to have a dog, when the time is right. I don't know if I can ever get another dog. I don't feel deserving and I don't feel right. I thought I knew what I wanted. I feel like the worst human being that ever existed. I could careless if I'm out $200 dollars, it's the fact that I failed as a person. I don't know how to move on. This is impacting me and my relationship with my husband. How did you cope? How should I cope? Please help me!

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 5th of September 2014

Chellbee, So sorry to read your story. That must have been so hard. I can't possibly know how you're feeling because I have never been in the exact situation.

What I can say, though, is that I have fostered several dogs that did not work and I had to find them different foster homes. I too felt like a failure, but the truth is not every dog will work out with every person. Lots and lots of people return shelter or rescue dogs after a few days or a week because it's just not a good match, and that's OK! That's why a lot of organizations offer a two-week trial period and then you can return the dog if it's just not working out.

Dogs often act very differently in a home than in a shelter, and the shelter workers and you had no way of predicting how the dog would be in a home setting.

You did a wonderful thing by finding the dog a new home. I'm sure she is very happy and loved, just as you still love her.

I hope when you are ready you will consider adopting another dog. There are so many dogs in need of a home, with so many personalities and energy levels. I know there is a "right" dog out there for you, and you sound like a very good dog owner.

And of course, if you need help for your feelings of depression, don't hesitate to get the help you need.


Tuesday 26th of November 2013

I am also currently dealing with this dilemma. I adopted my ~2 year old dog about 8 months ago. She is everything I have ever wanted in a, athletic, snuggly, and beautiful. However, she also has major reactivity issues that the rescue did not prepare me for. I have tried so hard to learn everything I can about dog beahavior to do things right for her. We have tried obedience classes, agility, and reactive dog class, and she only gets increasingly less comfortable. She was recently ill for 3 months with most likely a tick-borne illness, and it took a second opinion and many blood tests before she finally got on antibiotics. When she got better, I spent the last of my money on private lessons with a KPA certified trainer, who I hope can fix the mess left by the other trainers. I am having a flare up of my autoimmune disease and I had hoped to go to my doctor as soon as I have enough money, but the trainer wants me to take my dog to a behaviorist for meds. I was going to wait until after i got my own health taken care of, but my housemate told me today that my dog had nipped hard at two people within the last couple of weeks. I made an appointment with the behaviorist ASAP, but I'm afraid my pup needs more help than I can give financially. I am totally committed to training and exercising her, but I simply cannot afford all the services she requires. The trainer said that she thought we were a good match and that it wasn't time to think about rehoming yet. I can't face the thought that I might have failed her, but I don't know how much more I can give her and if what I'm doing is even helping her :(