The Perfect Home

November 8, 2012  

A veteran foster mom ponders how we judge others, all the while asking people not to judge our dogs

By Kirstyn Northrop Cobb

Everyone in pit bull rescue has two goals: to find the “perfect home” for the dogs that they are adopting out and to change the negative image of the dogs that they are adopting out. This is no easy task and are there times that we, as rescue people, also judge by appearance?

I keep a spreadsheet of all the dogs who I have adopted out through the years. That being said, I started it well after I started adopting out dogs, and it is not up to date, so my exact number is unknown, but it’s a lot. I would like to think that every one of those dogs went to a great home. I keep in touch with many former adopters, and some are even close friends now. Some, I never hear from again. But I know that I have gotten many, many dogs into great homes. And I will fully admit that I have put some dogs into homes that, though it was not obvious at the time, ended up being really bad situations. I like to think that I am a good judge of character but, really, how do you know?
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. One of my favorite foster dogs went to a home, and things went south in the household, not because of the dog, either dog, as they had adopted a dog a few years before from me, but because of other issues. In the long run, because of these issues, the family was no longer able to care for either dog, and they came back to the rescue. But, this was the perfect home. Perfect! The first dog that they had adopted was treated like royalty, as was the second. The house was not only amazing, but was set up for dogs. Dog friendly flooring, boxes of toys, everything. It was perfect. But, yet, the dogs are back. I was actually given grief by the board of the rescue because of the situation. But, I stand by it, the home was amazing. Until it wasn’t.

Then I look at other homes. In fact, I, myself, have been rejected by a rescue. Quite some time back, I applied to adopt a dog. At the time, I was a single parent working in a veterinary facility. I rented and did not have a fence. On paper, I was a horrible candidate. In fact, I was never even given a chance to interview. Just a flat out no. Had they spoken to me, they would’ve known that I had a very dog friendly landlord, I was very financially able to take care of a dog, especially due to a veterinary discount, and I was a runner at the time and I wanted a dog to take with me. In the end, I ended up bringing home a dog that had been abandoned at the animal hospital where I was working. The dog was very well taken care of. He ran with me, and he went everywhere with me. When he needed chemo for an autoimmune disease, I was right there, ready to give it to him. He has since passed away and I now find myself married with a family, a job with a much higher salary, and I volunteer on the side. I own my home and the yard is fully fenced – yep, now I am the perfect candidate … on paper. But, now I work long hours. Now I foster, and now there’s a lot going on. And now, I fully admit that I forgot to give heartworm pills this month. Something I would never have done before.

Because of this I vowed never to reject people without getting to know them. But you know what? I find myself judging. A few weeks ago, I took a dog to a home and before I even got out of the car, I said to the person who was with me, “Do I really want to leave a dog here?” You know what? That woman loves that dog. The dog is receiving more than adequate medical care as she is a bit overprotective, and the dog is as happy as can be. He sleeps in her bed every night and is more content now than ever before.

So, I’m wondering, for as much as we preach about not judging our pit bulls by their appearance and judging them as individuals, are we judging others by appearance? How often do we see people approaching the adoption center and think to ourselves, “I don’t want to adopt a dog to them.” Or, do we look at people and think the opposite, “That looks like an amazing family. I hope they pick out a dog.” Let’s be totally honest. How many of you have seen someone walking a pit bull down the street, clearly not neutered, wearing a spike collar and thought to ourselves “Those damn pit bull people,” and all the while you are one of those “pit bull people.” So, as we ask people not to judge our dogs by appearance, maybe we should think about not judging people by their appearance. After all, we all know by now that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

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Comments

3 Responses to “The Perfect Home”
  1. SusanLawrence says:

    Kirstyn, you want to be fair to the humans but you also want the dogs to be safe. You take seriously the job of doing the best you can for the animals you commit to help. Don’t be too hard on yourself! Wish I could foster – too many dogs, too little time to do it well. So I’m glad you do it. (Yes, I have forgotten a heartworm dose or two, and I still consider myself a rather wonderful dog mom!)

  2. adoremydogs says:

    Excellent article and thought provoking.  It’s so easy to form an opinion without knowing all the facts, with people as well as animals.