Ramblings on selecting families, rescuing and re-homing dogs.

I love the Labradors as much as the Shorthairs, but I never experienced dog returns/re-homing with labs as we do with the pointers. There just don’t seem to be as many of America’s favorite breed (labs) in shelters as there are with the #2 sporting breed in the US (GSP’s).

We are so very attached to where these pups end up, knowing they have an actively fulfilling life ahead of them, and many years spent with a loving family. It’s hard to not be frustrated when we see dogs, ours or any other, that don’t end up in the right situation.

We get more and more picky every litter on selecting the families for our dogs that we think have the best chance of success and show the most promise of what we want for these dogs.

Do we pass up on families that could be amazing homes for shorthairs? Almost certainly.
Does that piss people off. Yup.

Are some of our picks ‘wrong’, and less than what a GSP needs? Unfortunately, sometimes.

Does life happen, and the unexpected become reality for people? Absolutely.

For these reasons, and many more; the primary binding part of our contracts demand that new owners of our dogs not transfer ownership of their dogs to anyone else. If(when) anyone decides they can’t or don’t want to handle the energy and responsibility that comes with owning a shorthair, they agree to return the dog to us. We promise to be diligent in finding that dog another loving, new home.

Let me be clear:
I’m rarely frustrated with the people in these situations; rather I have a lot of compassion for what they are experiencing. I do get deeply frustrated or discouraged by the situation that a dog can be surrounded by.

Job changes, work life and hours don’t allow for time with a high energy dog.
Medical down turns, no longer able to provide an active home for a demanding GSP.
Family life and older GSP are not the fit for a new pup that was hoped for. New dog is not getting the love and time it deserves.

These are just the 3 dogs that have been returned to us over 10 years of breeding GSP’s. And these are all folks that we hold very dear and are wonderful dog families.

Some of the surprises that people have as first (or even 2nd) time GSP owners:

“I can’t leave the dog in a kennel. She cries, barks or wines non-stop. She’s with other dogs…”
Folks, these shorthairs are like Canine Crazy Glue. They want to be with you! If they’re not hunting and running; they want to be with their people. They want to be ON their people!
“I can’t wear this dog out! We throw the tennis ball in the field or the lake for 4 HOURS. She’s not even slowing down.” Uh-huh. Hours. Daily.
“He is possessed. He stares out the window at squirrels; he barks at house flies; he chases every cat in the neighborhood!” Your welcome. Born, bred, and meat fed to hunt. I know you didn’t train it into him, he was born with it. Now you’ve got to figure out how to exercise that drive, or find someone else who will.

Just recently we’ve helped find new homes for a couple of dogs that were not ours. This is new to me; as I’ve previously spent all time with our dogs. But to remember that we started breeding and training for love of the BREED, not just our own dogs; I really do care about all Shorthairs being in a good long term home.
There are many breed specific rescues out there, doing great jobs at pairing families with dogs in need. Recently two folks have reached out to us for help, finding that they’d signed on for much more than they bargained for. I was surprised to find that I felt equally fulfilled in being part of the solution for these dogs, not of ours, as I do with our pups going home to their new hunting families. Truly Win-Win-Win to see the relief of current owners, happiness of new owners, and the excitement and flexibility of the dog.
We’ve been fortunate to not be exposed to much of the neglect or abuse that you hear about. Each time it seems to be the wrong situation and ‘too much dog’. I’ve really enjoyed these people, and my sadness is only that their journey with the pup ends sooner than I would have liked.
I am also so very grateful that most of these people have the fortitude of character and un-common self clarity to know that it’s not working. Both the first dog that we brought home, and this last dog that we helped to re-home; the first owner said that they “didn’t want to resent the dog” but could feel that coming.
Truly Pup does not deserve that resentment. Pup deserves love and attention, like the kind that they give.
I think too often people are unwilling to see that which is lacking in themselves, what they’re not willing or able to give, and are holding on because it’s ‘the right thing’.

In the end, I can start to let go of my attachments and emotions; and be truly happy for these dogs. They started in a home that loved them, they’ve moved on to a home that loves them. Their journeys get to include multiple stops of loving homes. Pretty special in that light.

Of course that’s not the reality for many rescue dogs. So we will continue to screen and be stringent in turning folks down. We’ll demand that dogs come back to us if they are too much. And I’m going to help more, when I can, with re-homing wonderful pups that weren’t ours in the first place.

For any of you that followed these ramblings to the end, please keep that in mind. If you see or know people that are in over their heads; have too-much dog for their capability or willingness to give time; let them know that it’s ok to let go. They’re not a bad person for recognizing that; but quite the contrary: their dog (or partner, or children?) could be happier with someone that is ready for them. Let go and help this being find love before the resentment kicks in.

Love each other.
Love your dogs.
Or let them go to someone who will.

3 thoughts on “Ramblings on selecting families, rescuing and re-homing dogs.”

  1. I recently adopted a German shorthair female last yr from a military family at fort Lewis. I’ve trained my last gsp he passed on at the age of 13 he was not just a dog he was my best friend and hunting buddy. Some times I wondered who as training who. He was smart loved people and kids. I read your blog I’ve experienced everything you said it was spot on I raised that dog from a pup. Loved him! He was part of the family. I saw the gsp up for adoption so I wanted to adopt her. I agree 100 percent with everything u said daily exercise and they want to be with there owner I took him every where with me. Take care it was nice to read your blog. His name was comet ran him in the navhda natural ability first dog I ever trained he got prize 2 107 pts. There is a hole in my heart with out him he will be missed.

  2. Very well written blog post for many reasons. First, you are understanding and accepting of the family who for some specific reason can’t keep the pup/dog. Second, you help with rehoming the pup/dog into a new home where they will be loved which is the most important issue. Third, you are accepting of your own ability to choose a new family for your pups, and even then some things change and a great home may end up not being the best for a particular pup/dog when events happen… It is admirable of you to include dogs that are not from your own kennel, so this shows your love for the breed, and you seem to have many qualities that are not always part of a breeder’s mindset, so I congratulate you and wish you the best in your breeding program!

  3. Thank you for this article, and the others on your blog. A year ago we found two young dogs running in the middle of the road; we took them home to look for owners, but found out they had been dumped. They were both obviously hunting dogs, and while we have had many different dogs over the years, we aren’t hunters and had never had hunting dogs., so I started trying to learn everything I could about them. Blogs and sites like yours have been really helpful, and yours stood out for the kindness and compassion towards the dogs.. Our dogs had off the wall prey drive, absolutely no socialization, had never been on a lead ,no people manners, and for a while I could not work out why someone would get rid of dogs that were brave as lions, and with no “off button” for hunting. I felt really bad for them that they had landed in a non hunting farm home, but I have slowly realized that maybe we were just what they needed. They look like short haired pointers, black with blue ticking (except the face and ears) one even had his tail 40% docked, sound like coonhounds when they get going, and are all about the smell on the ground, tracking scents even in deep snow with absolute focus. I have even seen them very occasionally do a classic point, one paw up, nose straight ahead( look Ma, its a car, I can take it!) but generally their nose is down on the ground, not up. It turns out one of them is badly gun shy, which does not fit the rest of his personality at all, or his general lack of fear of loud noises, and I suspect someone shot a dog in front of him. The other one, though he is affectionate now, and very loving, ‘biddable’ is not a word you would use to describe him. I can’t imagine him ever listening to someone in the middle of a hunt. Willing, however, to learn to sit for hotdogs…
    Eventually, I would love to find a dog trainer who understands hunting dogs, and could help us teach them to scent track.( well, they already know, so I think it is more teach us how to work with them..) It’s been a long haul , but the improvements have been wonderful, seeing them learn to trust and love, and the way my son and his dog are bonding is beautiful. I would never have said we were the right home for hunting dogs, but I think it turns out perhaps we were the right home for these two. if you do scent training, or anyone else knows someone they could recommend, that would be great. otherwise thank you again for your articles, and for the way you care for these dogs.

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