When the dog you adopt doesn't work out

When the Dog You Adopt Doesn’t Work Out

This post was meant to be titled, “Meet our new pup, Raven!”

Raven is a good, sweet dog, perfect in so many ways. The two dogs got along beautifully. But unfortunately, Raven is not the right dog for our family.

Two knuckleheads

Long story short, she was determined to kill my cat. She was doing what she was bred to do, hunt small critters.

There is “chase drive” and there is “I’m going to get that prey” drive. With time, a lot of dogs can learn to live safely with a cat. I do not believe that is the case with Raven.

I believe her instinct can only be managed, not eliminated. I do not believe an e-collar would “train” her not to go after my cat but would be a tool to manage the situation, at best.

One slip-up on my part – leaving a door open at the wrong time, dropping a leash – my cat would be gone.

I love my cat.

So of course, I’m sad. But on the plus side, Raven had more than one option available for a good home. So things will actually work out very well for all.

Raven will not share her life with me, but she will go on to live a good life.

It is a hard thing to have to return a dog I planned to adopt. It’s hard to write about it. Those of you who foster or rescue dogs know all too well that some dogs are just not the right “fit.”

My dog Remy got to spend time with his sister, and they got along better than I could’ve imagined. They speak the same language, with obnoxious play, slapping and tackling each other in a way most dogs find incredibly rude.

Most weims have no sense of “personal space” and Remy and Raven loved each other’s company. It was a lot of fun to see them together, and I’m very sad it won’t work out.

When the dog you adopt doesn’t work out – help for others

To help anyone else going through this difficult type of decision, I’m sharing two of my articles (links below). One is from 10 years ago (wow!). In 2010 I had not had to return a dog I planned to adopt, but I knew the difficulties of returning a temporary foster dog.

Returning a shelter or rescue dog

Returning a foster dog

I think my advice back then was solid. It’s helpful to me, now. I may write more articles on this topic, as I know it’s something so many dog lovers do face, unfortunately.

Dog lovers have big hearts. Sometimes when we follow our hearts things works out perfectly. Other times, they do not.

And so … sweet Raven Girl, I wish you well. You are a good dog. You are just not meant to be my dog. I hope you go and enjoy your life.

When the dog you adopt doesn't work out

Adopted dogs need several weeks to adjust

I also want to make sure to mention that it takes a good month or more for most adopted dogs to adjust to their new homes.

Often, you can work through most issues with a lot of patience, time and the help of a good trainer.

Every situation is unique, and I don’t want someone to give up on their new dog just because it did not work out in my specific case.

Do you have an example to share?

I hope you have never had to return a dog or cat you planned to adopt, but it happens. If you have an example you’re willing to share, please do. It is helpful for others in the same situation.

18 thoughts on “When the Dog You Adopt Doesn’t Work Out”

  1. I adopted another dog two weeks. He’s normal in every way, except for one thing – he doesn’t sleep at night. He paces and barks for hours. I don’t know much longer I can go on, since I can’t get by on an hour or two of sleep a night. I’ve tried all sorts of things but nothing has helped. It’s going to be upsetting for me, if I give him back to the rescue group.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh gosh, that does sound frustrating. I hope it works out OK for you both but of course I understand if you decide to return him.

  2. Have you tried talking to a vet ?
    Mine gives trazadone for severe anxiety works well
    How bout putting dog bed in your room?

  3. I’m sorry Raven didn’t work out. I’m sure it was disappointing and sad to send her back, but sometimes those tough decisions that are best for our families must be made. I’m glad she has a good home to go back to. I’m sure she enjoyed her vacation in MT!

  4. Margaret Sheridan

    It is tough to give back a dog. I can only imagine the heartbreak! I was close with my Belgian Malinois, who has a very high prey drive, but she is my only pet and I found a good trainer. Luckily I am a one dog only person and don’t need to worry about small pets. I am so sorry for you though:(

  5. We got a kitten a couple years ago and after one year we noticed how unhappy our older cat was with her being around. He could easily escape from her because she could also jump onto to the places he did. We didn’t think it was fair to lock either of them up in rooms so we had to rehome the girl. She went a home with her litter mate and all is well there! Sometimes it just has to be done to keep harmony in the home.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank you so much, Jenn. I’m sorry you didn’t get to keep the girl cat but sounds like you did what was best for all.

  6. We had a wonderful beautiful pitty who was deaf. His name is Ajax. He trained easily since he was always looking at me. Then one day he realized he could open the gate with his nose. He got out one time and after hearing squealing brakes I looked out to see Ajax standing in the middle of the main street into town. He was petrified so I had to get him on leash to bring him home. From then on he was anxiety ridden to go outside. We tried everything possible from trainers, tranquilizers to thunder vests. The only thing we could do was find him a new home in the country quiet road. I hated that we had to get rid of Ajax but after seeing pictures and how much he smiled and ran I knew we did the right thing for him.

  7. I totally understand your situation, sometimes we had to make a hard decision that breaks our heart. And we need the courage to do that. At least you do your best and that matters most.

  8. I’m sorry you had to experience that, Lindsay, and I certainly understand. Anytime we brought a dog home to foster, our cats had to be considered. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

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