As I posted a little while ago, the beginning of the summer marked four years with our dude Baxter.

As I was reflecting back, I started thinking about his adoption and our experience with the rescue group that found Bax. There were some things that I think they handled really, really well (especially after I’ve heard about other people’s experiences with rescue), and there’s one thing that is still a huge question mark for me.

What the rescue organization did well

They posted Baxter on Petfinder. Petfinder was my go-to when we were looking for a dog. There is no way I would have found Bax if I’d had to search individual rescue or shelter sites.

They had a detailed questionnaire. This helped them understand us and our approach to dog ownership. The questionnaire also forced me to think about the details of having a dog—I had to supply my vet’s name and contact information, ditto for a trainer. I had to talk about the food we were planning to feed. For someone who hadn’t had a dog before, this level of detail wasn’t immediately in my brain, so it got me thinking.

Baxter on the day we drove him home:

Baxter on his way home

They followed up on the questionnaire. The questionnaire asked about other animals, so I included our barn cat Ralph. The rescue called our vet to ask about her and what care and treatment she’d received. Being a barn cat, she hasn’t had a whole lot of treatment, but the rescue group was flexible and accommodating in this area and recognized that there are reasons we don’t bring our barn cat to the vet for annual check ups.

They did a home visit. Yes, home visits can be annoying and over the top. However, I think they show a level of diligence that is important. I could have put whatever I wanted on the questionnaire or been untruthful in my phone interview. A home visit does a better job of showing how the dog will be living and what kind of family he’ll be joining.

They were flexible. This is the biggest one for me—especially given what I’ve heard about some rescues. I already mentioned Ralph, which maybe could have been an issue. We also don’t have a fenced yard area on the farm. We definitely talked about that with the rescue, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for them.

See That Mutt’s post: Why most dogs don’t need a fenced yard.

The deal breaker for the rescue

We had planned to use an outdoor run for Baxter when we weren’t home. This ended up being a deal breaker for the rescue—they were concerned that he would be too cold in the winter, and rejected our application.

I called and appealed and pledged to never use the outdoor run in cold weather. They were flexible enough to reconsider—and believe I was being honest—and we were able to adopt Bax.

See my post: Outdoor dog run fail.

The question mark

The actual adoption is my biggest question mark with Bax. We went to where he was fostered and met him for the first time. He ambled over and met us. We scratched his head. We talked to his foster mother a bit and asked a few questions. Then she handed us his leash, we put him in our car and headed home.

We had a dog.

In hindsight, I feel like there should have been a few more meetings—more get-to-know-yous, or at least a walk to get a little bit acquainted.

At the same time, I’m not sure it’s possible to get to know each other just through a walk or a couple of hours. It took time for Bax to relax and be himself. And I feel like we needed the environment and routine of home and the farm and our new little family together to sort that out.

Baxter and Matt getting acquainted:

If things hadn’t worked out, we could have followed up with the rescue group and worked through things with them—if worse came to worse we would have even returned Baxter to them.

And in the end, everything did work out wonderfully for us, and we ended up with our perfect dog. And I’m very grateful to our rescue for the best thing they ever did—picking Baxter out of his shelter so that he could become ours.

What were some of the things you liked or didn’t like about where you got your dog?

How did the process go for you, whether you went to a shelter, breeder or elsewhere? Let us know in the comments.

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She and her husband live on a 129-acre farm in Ontario, Canada.

Baxter’s first day home:

Related posts:

When a dog rescue volunteer buys a puppy

Returning a rescue dog due to separation anxiety

How to get your dog adoption application approved

What good rescues and good breeders have in common