Last month, my beloved Pug died. I met him when he was just 6 weeks old, and for well over a decade he held my heart in a way that no other dog ever has. So, when I read a Facebook post saying he had passed away, I burst into tears. “Loved and raised by two families…” it read. “We were privileged to be his ‘second-half’ family.” The words, written by those I had chosen to rehome him with, were a reminder of exactly why I had picked them when I was no longer able to give him the life he needed.
Trying to get away from domestic violence with the lives of my pets and children intact, I had found myself looking for someone who would love my Pug the way I did, and could also give him everything I could not. The process of finding his new family was almost as hard literally as it was emotionally, but these many years later, I couldn’t be more pleased with how everything turned out.
But he might not have had a happily ever after had I not taken these five important steps when rehoming him. If you find yourself unable to care for a beloved pet, be sure to:
1. Get vet references
I hate to break it to you, but people lie, and sometimes the only way to fully vet them is to talk to their vet. I know, bad pun, but it’s true! We’ve all had that friend who asks for a work reference, and even though we agree out of obligation, inside we are dying because the friend isn’t exactly responsible.
But, vets can tell you a lot if the potential adopter let’s them — and if they don’t, RED FLAG! A vet can tell you if their other pets receive routine care, and what lengths they go to when a pet falls ill. If a person doesn’t get their pets regular vet care, or they put a dog to sleep because of an easily treatable condition, then their dedication (or lack thereof) likely does not meet your expectations.
2. Visit their home
Yep, that’s right, be a snoop! Would you be comfortable moving into a home you had never seen, with people you had never met? Of course not, and that’s why your canine friend needs you to check out their potential new accommodations to make sure they are suitable. I actually turned one family down because their house was so dirty I wasn’t sure if my Pug would have ever gotten a bath.
3. Do a trial weekend
Have you ever had an idea in your head, one that didn’t work in reality? The same thing can happen when rehoming a pet, for either family. You may think you’ve found a great fit, but then the situation begins to look a bit different. Maybe the dog you are trying to rehome barks more than the new family can handle, or the meshing with other furry family members doesn’t go well.
During the first trial weekend for my Pug with a potential family, he was nearly attacked by their much larger dog, who had seemed to like him when they first met. I was thankful that neither I nor the new family had committed to a permanent situation, and I never forgot that moving forward.
4. Ask about future involvement
I was blessed that the family I had chosen was open to me continuing to be a part of my Pug’s life. I understood that by rehoming I was relinquishing my rights, but thankfully they always stood by the agreement that we made: that I could visit and would always be kept updated. Even though my Pug no longer lived with me, I was still able to be a part of his life. Sure, any situation has the possibility to sour over time, but the best way to avoid conflict and hurt feelings in a very delicate situation is to make sure everyone starts on the same page.
5. Get a rehoming fee
I felt sick asking for money, as if I were profiting from his departure, but since I had promised to always take care of my Pug, he needed me to keep that promise by making sure his new family was willing to invest him in. Free things are easily discarded, but things you are willing to put money into prove that you see their value. (Not that my Pug was a thing, but you get the point.)
I miss my Pug every day, just as I did when I first let him go, but I will always be thankful that he lived out his days in not only the perfect home for him, but also the perfect home for all of us. I lost the daily licks, snorts, and 100 pounds of shedding hair that were a part of my daily life, but I gained a second family of sorts, and the opportunity to watch my Pug live out the life he deserved, even if I wasn’t the one who was directly able to give it to him.