As a trainer, I see a lot of dogs that work, and do amazing things, for their owners.
And I see just as many dogs that just don’t fit in their homes. Their energy levels are too high (or too low, rarely), they are working dog types in a home with people who don’t want to work the dog. The dog isn’t patient enough with a handler who is a novice. The handler isn’t patient enough with a dog that is a puppy.
Often, I can fix these issues and the handler and the dog are happy, healthy, and continue on forever happy, with just a little bit of assistance and tweaking.
Rarely, the pieces just still don’t fall into place, and even after hard work you can see the dog and the handler still aren’t happy with one another.
And this is where the concept of the “Forever Home” fails dog owners miserably – because ultimately, what happens is that in these few cases where the owner has tried to seek assistance and is simply outdogged (the dog is too large, or too smart, or too energetic to do well in their lifestyle), often the owner will cling, with great guilt, to the idea that they “committed” to this dog and must push on through, no matter how miserable they are.
Granted, I’m not advocating just dumping a dog that is inconvenient – though rescues, shelters, and breeders alike frequently fail their clients by selling them an inappropriate dog.
But ultimately, the welfare of the dog must be paramount – why continue living a life fighting to make two pieces fit that just . . . don’t?
Working dog people do not make this mistake – a dog that will not herd is placed in a pet family, or an agility family.
And some dogs just won’t hunt.
And that’s ok – the working person simply places the dog elsewhere, in a home where the dog can ‘fit’.
I find myself advocating, in the rare cases, that pet people do the same. After all, the dog has a job – to be your pet – and if after some hammering, and some work, the dog still can’t cut it, then both parties would be more relieved to go their separate ways.
After all, just like any relationship, sometimes it’s better that way.