When you can't keep your Weimaraner

Adapted from CHOW CHOW RESCUE, with thanks to the authors: Karen deBoer, Barbara Malone, Lisa Hrico, and the Chow Chow Club, Inc. Welfare Committee

Not long ago, you were thrilled to have a Weimaraner puppy of your very own. You never dreamed that you might have to give him up some day. Your Weimaraner still depends on you to do what's best for him, just like he depended on you when he was a puppy. Now, more than ever, he needs you to take time to think things through and make the right choices for his future. WEIMARANER RESCUE helps to find new homes for Weimaraners. Rescuers are unpaid volunteers with full time jobs and families to care for, just like you. They usually do not have kennel facilities nor do they receive financial help from the government. The cost to care for rescued Weimaraners comes out of their own pockets and through the participation of their individual breed clubs. Rescue works with Weimaraners that are given up for adoption by their owners, with dogs that are given up to shelters, or are picked up as strays. Shelter dogs are in need of immediate attention, therefore, private releases (those dogs who are given up by their owners) are given secondary importance in the adoption chain. Why? Because they already have a home and an owner...you.

Your Weimaraner is your responsibility. Most of the work in finding him a new, loving, permanent home is up to you. If your dog came from a private breeder or individual, your first recourse should be in contacting that breeder or individual immediately. Although he or she may not choose to help you, he has a moral obligation to do so. Members of the Weimaraner Club of America agree to this service when they adhere to the Code of Ethics as set forward by our parent Club. An ethical, responsible breeder/fancier will want to help you and has a right to know what is about to happen to the dog that he or she brought into this world.

Finding a new home will not be quick or easy. It takes patience and hard work. This web page is designed to help you decide what is best for your dog, how to prepare him for adoption and how to choose the correct new owner for him. Finding a new home involves several steps, but before you start here are a few things you should know:

About Animal Shelters

Shelters and Humane Societies were created to take care of the needs of stray and abused animals. They were not intended to be the dumping grounds for people whose pets are no longer convenient, but that is what they have become. Shelters today are so overcrowded that many dogs are destroyed on the same day that they arrive. By law, strays must be kept several days for their owners to reclaim them. Dogs turned in by their owners aren't protected by these laws. Only 1 in 10 animals that enter a shelter will come out alive. Shelters don't want to kill all these animals but they have no choice. For every child born on this day - there will be 15 puppies and 45 kittens born as well. There are just not enough homes for all of these animals. Being a purebred will not help a dog's chances of adoption-40% of the dogs in shelters are purebreds. Sending your Weimaraner to a shelter in the hopes that he will find a good home is wishful thinking...you could in reality be signing his death warrant.

Step One - Soul Searching

There's a big difference between being forced to give up your dog and wanting to "get rid of him". Search your heart for the real reason why your dog can no longer live with you. Your answer will probably fall into one of two categories:

People Problems or Dog Problems

PEOPLE PROBLEMS include moving, death of an owner, divorce, a new baby, allergies, etc. With some planning and forethought, People Problems don't always mean having to give up your dog. It is possible to find rental dwellings, which accept pets; kids and dogs can be raised together; and allergies can be controlled with medication, etc. If you are not sure if you have considered all of the options, call us. We may be able to give you some ideas or send information that will help you keep your dog. Sometimes you can make temporary living arrangements for your pet that will buy you both a little time to find alternatives.

DOG PROBLEMS include aggression, house soiling, destructiveness, barking, fighting, bad manners or other undesirable behavior. If you got your dog as a puppy, you must accept the fact that you are at least partly responsible for the way your dog acts now. Any owner whose dog has a behavior problem always has four options:

  1. You can continue to live with your dog as he is.
  2. You can hire a trainer or attend classes to alter his behavior.
  3. You can give your problem to someone else.
  4. You can have the dog euthanized.

Most behavior problems can be worked out if YOU are willing to make the effort. Don't make the mistake of trading this dog for another one that you think will be easier to work with. If you didn't train this one properly, you won't train the next one either. If you'd keep your dog if only he were better behaved - call us - we can help. We have a strong network of Club Members, and all of us, at one time or another, have faced the same problems as you are having now. We can provide training advice, reading material and refer you to qualified trainers of animal behaviorists to help you with your dog's problems.

Step Two - Temperament Evaluation

Your dog's adoption potential depends mostly on his temperament or "personality". Weimaraners are usually friendly, outgoing dogs with few, if any, temperament problems. However, there are Weimaraners that, due to lack of early socialization or other factors may have temperament or personality disorders. You must be realistic about your own dog. Is he outgoing and friendly to almost everyone? Is he unpleasant or aggressive towards strangers? Does he adjust easily to new situations? Has he been exposed to a variety of situations during his lifetime? Has he been raised with children, other dogs, cats? Is he protective of you and your home or is he overly protective? The majority of people who will be looking at your dog as a prospective pet will never have owned a Weimaraner before and their mental picture of the breed will be from a magazine picture or a book illustration . a large, friendly gray dog who approaches with his eyes shining and his tail wagging. When you love your dog, it is easy to think that everyone else will love him, too. But think, if you were meeting him for the first time, what kind of an impression would he make? Would you want to adopt him?

Step Three - Preparing your Dog for Adoption

Having decided that your dog must really have a new home and that his temperament is suitable for a new owner, take him to your veterinarian for a complete checkup and any necessary vaccinations. Same behavior problems occur because of physical problems and are easily treatable. For example: house soiling can be caused by worms, urinary infections or diabetes. There may be other physical causes as well. Bring all vaccinations up to date - not just rabies. Your dog should also have a heartworm check, be heartworm negative, and be on preventative, as well as having a stool check for worms.

IF YOUR DOG HAS NOT BEEN NEUTERED OR SPAYED DO IT NOW!!! Placing your Weimaraner without being neutered could put his life and well-being in serious jeopardy. No reputable breeder would be caught dead adding your dog to their breeding program. The only, kind of breeder who'll be interested in your dog will be a puppy-mill. Wholesale dog brokers seek out free or cheap un-neutered purebreds for resale to puppy-mills or research laboratories. Watch out also for private owners looking for a "mate" for their own dog. Is this what you want for your Weimaraner? Spaying or neutering guarantees that your dog will not end up in a puppy-mill or in the hands of a backyard breeder. It is the best way to insure that your dog will be adopted by a family who only wants him as a best friend and member of the family. Give your dog a chance at a brighter future .... make your spay/neuter appointment today!!!

Groom and bathe your dog. Get rid of any fleas. If you cannot do this yourself, take him to a grooming parlor. Get rid of that old frayed or rusted collar and buy him same "new clothes". You want him to look his best in order to make a nice impression on prospective adopters.

Step Four - Writing an Ad

There's a trick to writing a good ad that will generate interest in your dog while not misrepresenting him and which will also do same preliminary screening for you. At the very least the ad needs to give a concise description of your dog, his needs, requirements for a home, and of course your telephone number.

The description should include his breed, sex, the fact that he is neutered (you did do that, didn't you?) and an indication of his age. Hint: if your dog is under a year and a half old, state his age in months so that he will be perceived as the young dog that he is. If he is over three, state his age as "adult". Many people believe that an older dog won't adjust to a new home. This is far from true. There are definite advantages to an older dog ."what you see is what you get", they are over the chewing stage, they are already housebroken, etc. I always point out to prospective adoptors who bring up the age issue, that most working dogs, ie: seeing eye, handicap helpers, hearing aid dogs, seldom if ever begin their career until they are over three years of age.

Emphasize your dog's good points. Is he friendly? Well mannered? Loves kids? Try to state these in a positive way, ie: "Kids over 10" sounds better than "No children under 10". Pre-qualify homes by stating any definite needs, ie: fenced yard, no cats, etc. This lets people know that you are going to be selective, want to do what's right for your dog and prepares callers for the fact that you will be asking a lot more questions of them. NEVER include the phrase "FREE TO GOOD HOME" in your ad even if it is true. If possible, do not put in any references to price at all. While "free" will generate a lot of calls, most of them will not be the type of people that you are looking for. Save yourself the trouble of sorting out the wheat from the chaff right from the beginning. Not specifying a price will give you a lot of latitude. You can easily discourage an unsuitable prospect by stating that you want $700 for the dog, and then just as easily give the dog free to that perfect family, should you so desire. Set a reasonable adoption fee in your mind. "Reasonable" is the key word here. Don't expect a new owner to give you the total "investment" you have in your dog. By the same token, someone who is not willing to pay a small amount may not be able to afford the dog's future upkeep and care. A reasonable range may be between $100-200.

Your ad should look something like this:

WEIMARANER: Young adult male, neutered,
friendly, likes children, no cats. Needs
fenced yard. Vet references required.
Barbara - Days: 1-800-555-5555, Eve: 1-609-555-5555

Call your local newspapers and place your ad. It can take up to 6-8 weeks to find a suitable home for your dog, so plan on advertising for several weeks. If you can't afford that, nearly every community has "shopper" publications offering low cost or free classified advertising. Make flyers with a good photo of your dog and post them on community & grocery bulletin boards, at vet's offices, pet supply stores, grooming shops, etc. Get the word out amongst your friends, relatives and co-workers. Be patient, persistent and creative.

Step Five - Screening Callers

Talking to prospective adopters can be frustrating and time consuming. To help you along we have included a copy of the adoption application that our rescue group uses. Make copies and fill in the information as you are speaking to the caller. It's easy to get people talking about dogs and you can use this information to help you choose the right family. To save time, you can also mail this application to prospective adopters for them to fill out and return to you. Be sure to provide a self-addressed envelope.

If the caller has no pets at the present time, find out about past pets.... What happened to them? Did they run away, get hit by a car, get given away, given up to a shelter? Avoid anyone who gives the above answers if possible. They are a good indication of how your dog will end up. If they do have a pet at present, find out what kind, sex, etc. This is sometimes an indicator that the interested party will want to use your pet for breeding purposes . but of course, this won't happen because you have already altered your pet, right?

Are there children in the family, how old, how many.... None? Young marrieds sometimes want a pet as a child replacement... and end up dumping the dog as soon as the first baby arrives. Qualify these people carefully. Does the prospective adopter own their own home or are they renters? Do they have landlord approval for a pet? Fenced yard, somewhere to exercise the dog, type of area in which they live .... rural, suburban, urban? Can you make a house check? Has the adopt or ever owned a Weimaraner before (Rescue gives preference to former Weimaraner owners because they know the breed and are willing to take on a second, third or sometimes even fourth Weim into their lives.) Many people have no idea what a Weimaraner is and even less idea about their personality and traits. Are they looking for a hunting dog? Even though Weimaraners are part of the Sporting Breed Group, not all Weims are created equal in the field. If you tell the adopter that your dog hunts well, don't mean that he points tweetie birds in your back yard or chases the neighbors cat up a tree .... if a hunter wants a hunting dog and gets a Weim with no ability, you can bet your bottom dollar that your sweetie-pie will be back to you, or worse, in a shelter right after the next hunting season opens.

Have these folks ever owned any kind of a dog before? If not, are you willing to help them over the rough spots and can they call you when a problem arises?

References: Get the phone number of their vet and two personal references. When calling to check references, explain that John and Mary Doe are interested in adopting your dog and that you love your dog and want to make sure that John and Mary will give it a good home. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Were former pets given annual checkups, vaccinations, heartworm preventative? How did their former pets die? How long have they known John and Mary? Do John and Mary have a fenced yard? If they were placing a pet, would they feel comfortable placing it with the Does? You may get different answers than what you expect, so plan on investigating the prospect further .... or crossing them off your list!

Step Six - The Personal Interview

Most of your callers won't make it past the telephone interview. Once you've chosen a family (or families) that you feel are good candidates, you can set up an appointment with them to see the dog. Actually, two appointments are in order - one at your home and then, one at THEIRS. Going to their home lets you see whether their situation is as they told you it was and whether your dog will do well there. It also gives you the opportunity to call off the adoption and take the dog back home with you if things aren't as represented. If they already have another dog, make arrangements to meet in a "neutral" territory, such as a park or playground. Most dogs are territorial and resent a strange dog coming into their home. If the family has children, have them bring the children to your home, where you are in control of the situation. Some allowances should be made for kids' natural enthusiasm, however if the children are unruly and undisciplined and are not kept in hand by their parents, you are asking for trouble. Watch how the people and the children interact with your dog, keeping a watchful eye at all times and keeping your dog under control, even by lead if necessary.

Do you like these people? Do you have a "good" feeling about them? Are you comfortable having them as guests in your home? If not, don't give them the dog. Trust your instincts! Wait for another family. If you are not sure about someone, call your rescue representative.... we'll try to help you make a decision based on our experiences.

The Last Step - Saying Goodbye

Congratulations! You've found the perfect home for your Weimaraner. We know it wasn't easy. After all of the soul searching, preparations and advertising and interviews, your dog is ready to go to his new family. Set aside some private time for you and your dog. We know that you may cry too. Do it now, in private, so that you are clearheaded when it is time for him to leave. He may be confused about being left with strangers and you don't want your emotions to upset him further.

What goes with your dog to his new home:

  • His medical records, vaccination records and spay/neuter certificate.
  • Name address and phone number of your vet.
  • Your name, address and phone number (New address if you are moving).
  • Your dog's toys, bedding or special belongings.
  • A supply of food and treats that he especially loves.
  • An instruction sheet of special needs, feeding, etc.
  • A collar and lead with ID tag if he has one.
  • Reading material or Sources for Reading Material on Weimaraners (Including the book by Carole Lea Benjamin "Second Hand Dogs-How to make yours a First Place Pet").
  • A copy of the Release Form (Copy attached)
  • A copy of the Adoption Agreement and Liability Waiver (Copy Attached)
  • The Telephone Number of Weimaraner Rescue Representative.
  • Any other relevant paper work on your dog.

There are a few things that the new owners should be aware of. Even the best behaved and well mannered dog is going to have a period of adjustment at his new home. He may even have an accident or two in the house. This period usually lasts for a few weeks until the dog becomes accustomed to his new owners and mourns the loss of his old family. During this time it is important for the new owners to adhere to the dog's old schedule and to try not to force the dog into anything unpleasant, such as a bath or a change of feed, etc. Have them wait until he settles in a bit and has time to bond with them. Advise them not to let the dog off lead for at least. two weeks, or you may find your Weimaraner in the Lost & Found section of the newspaper.

Make sure that the adoptive family knows they can return your dog if things to do not work out as expected all around. Let them know you will keep in touch and call in a few days to follow up and see how your dog is doing. Make sure they have Weim Rescue's number as we will always be here to provide help and advice.

What Weimaraner Rescue Does

Weimaraner Rescue helps to find new homes for abandoned, unwanted and stray Weimaraners. Dogs in Shelters get our first priority. Information and Education is given to Weimaraner owners considering giving up their dog for adoption. If this fails and the dog is given up, Weimaraner Rescue has the present owner sign a release form giving up ownership of the dog to Weimaraner Rescue. Rescue then does the job of screening prospective owners and placing the dog for adoption. A mandatory spay/neuter clause is included with our Adoption Agreement. If you have done everything you could to find a suitable home for your pet and everything has failed, Weimaraner Rescue will help. But, bear in mind that we have our limitations. Good homes. are not always available and you will be expected to hold your dog until a suitable placement is found. If time limitations are such that you must give up your dog immediately, foster or kennel arrangements will be made and you will be expected to cover the cost of that care.

If we can be of help to you, please do not hesitate to contact:

Tarheel Weimaraner Club Rescue
twcrescue@aol.com

Suzan Fontaine
(919) 550-8230

Rosi Adams
(704) 664-2223

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