how adoptable are you?

In 2008 the Utah/Idaho Vizsla Rescue invited me to their annual retreat. They invited me to just come, hang out, be a guest trainer if someone had questions, swim, hike, and enjoy their company. Seriously, how can anyone say no to that?

I ended up going three years in a row, and felt so honored every time they asked. An awesome group all the way around!

video 2008

video 2009

video 2010

Their retreat turned out to be more like a gathering. People driving across country to be there. Swanky campers, tents or staying in delicious old cabins. Young, old, hunters, vegetarians, athletes, and families. Dogs of all ages and temperaments, some with horrific histories, others with that unbearable lightness of being. Wine, gin, whiskey, and incredible food in abundance. All converging at Wade/Cliff Lake Montana. If you don’t know this area, it will suffice to say, it is jaw dropping gorgeous!

Since it was my first time at a gathering like this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. So, ever the family board game player, I filled a bag with fun games, trivial information, and puzzles. All of it revolved around dogs, dog ownership, and relationships. Some wholesome stuff for sure, some naughty/scary stuff for late night around the camp fire 😉

Since this group was focused on rescue and re-homing Vizsla’s, I thought it would be fun to play my Profile Game, but with a twist. A responsible rescues needs to know about a dogs adoptability, they have to be very in tune with who this dog is and who to place it with. Sometimes it can reach critical levels in regards to information. And sometimes, we as humans just get way too picky.

So this is how the game is played. Everyone gets a Profile Form and pen. I made this one super basic and easy, but with the ability to gather critical information to determine adoptability. But instead of filling it out for a dog, everyone had to fill it out as themselves. They were all being put up for adoption.

At first, there was not a single smile. Shit, this was a serious group or perhaps hung over? I simply said, don’t put your name on the form, be honest, and don’t share your info with the person next to you. Little chuckles here and there, some big bursts of laughter once they got into it, and lots of four letter words once they got rolling!

Once everyone finished I gathered the forms, I believe there were nine or ten total. To this day I can say this was one of the most fun moments I have ever had with a group. When reading these out loud, and they were pretty hysterical, honest and outrageous, we learned a lot about how imperfect we are, yet how we expect new to you dogs to be perfect.

Out of this group of nine or ten

  • One pure breed, or so they said! Eight mixed breed with no papers, Family Crest,  or Coat of Arms.
  • General appearance was a bit rough and scruffy. One said they felt like a super model in appearance. We debated that for awhile!
  • Five had healthy interactions with their own age group and species, but they did not do well with toddlers, adolescents or young adults. Four didn’t care about their interactions as long as they were having a good time, they were young adults.
  • Seven had way to much resource guarding to be considered safe in a new family home. They bordered as sanctuary candidates. They guarded their home, property, toys, and children. Some even carried guns because resources were that important! Only one food guarder!
  • Eight had space issues. Their personal space was large and could not be crowded with too much activity. Grocery stores, festivals, Costco on Saturday’s, and the like were out of the question.
  • Five were considered senior, and their health and medications were considered too expensive to make them easily adoptable. Specialty homes would be necessary.
  • All felt they were well socialized to people, places, things and events. Two felt more social after having a few drinks.
  • Two were semi incontinent, that posed a whole new level of care taking and adoptability.  One was only incontinent after drinking too much, that could be easily managed we all felt!
  • Two had exercise needs that were too extreme to be considered easily adoptable. They needed specialty homes with active joggers, hikers, mountain bikers or gym owners. An easy going family would be overwhelmed.
  • Eight were intact and capable of reproduction. Not good for adopting out!
  • Some females had whelped multiple times and proved to have too many opinions to be easily adoptable. They would not transition well.
  • Two over ate, one had food allergies and needed food management. A home that understands this structure would do OK. Free feeding or buffets, not a good idea for these folks!
  • One, just one, out of the group was young, opinion and guarding free, easy to get along with, well socialized but not in your face, read social cues well, willing to try new things and activities, and had a lovely lightness about her. FINALLY, an easily adoptable person!
  • and on and on … It just kept getting better!

What we all learned is that we are not perfect, none of us, not even by a long shot!

Sometimes a potential adopter is looking for perfect. No barking, easily hangs out at home, no guarding, no reactivity, doesn’t beg, walks nice on a leash, likes weekend outings but doesn’t require daily hikes, no health issues, pretty, etc. What they are really describing is a stuffed animal, not a living being with an ounce of life experience.

It comes down to looking for the right match, educating, and making sure a potential adopter is up for the new adventure. Taking the good and the bad, and moving forward with the relationship is what it boils down too.

Our follow up game was creating a newspaper advert. Our dogs were giving us away, what would they say about us to find us a new home? SO FUN!

Enjoy the lovely photos, some awesome memories! Nancy

15 thoughts on “how adoptable are you?

  1. Oh my goodness I LOVE this post! What a great and interesting game to play! It’s sooo true too, though I think we probably very rarely think about it like that! My boyfriend and I recently lost our 4 year old GSD rescue, Smokey, and we are looking at rescuing another GSD (it’s what Smokey would have wanted, as he says). Every dog we look at we evaluate and weigh and figure out exactly what we’re going to need to work on to get to that dog that we love and can live with and have a happy life together, it’s all about figuring out what works for you and your family. No dog is perfect, but there are a ton of rescues out there that at least behave better than a lot of puppies I know!!! Lol.

    1. Sorry to hear about your loss with Smokey, never an easy thing on the heart. It is lovely to hear that you are taking the time to find the right fit for your family. I wish more families would do that … Best wishes!

    1. It’s so fun playing games like this ( I like games anyway!). Sometimes when we take the focus off of the dog, we can see things a bit more clearly. That’s been my experience anyway.

  2. Nancy, I live in Victor, MT but I’ve never heard of this. I don’t even know where Wade/Cliff Lake, MT is. I have 4 Vizslas, just curious about these get togethers. Sounds like it is for people looking for a resuce. Jean Brennan

    1. Hi Jean, the link to the rescue is on the blog , you can just click on that to reach the people in charge for more info (Rebecca and Penny). Most of the dogs were adopted out through that rescue, some are just supporters of that rescue, and others come to find out more information and meet more Vizsla people. There gathering is in September this year. Cliff/Wade lake is between Ennis and West Yellowstone.

    1. it’s so funny. We consider resource guarding undesirable in dogs, but it turns out we as humans are far more guardy! I myself was one of the unadoptable resource guarders. I apparently guard property, my off spring, and space. I do however share food nicely 😉

  3. And as far as rescuing a dog goes? Most of mine were full-on crazy when I got them except for the Drama Prince.

    He had a broken leg and tail, recuperating from parvo, housebreaking questionable [I’m good at it so I don’t know for sure *lol*], ate everything he could wrap his mouth around and didn’t know a single command.

    Now he’s my “go anywhere” dog 😀

      1. I liked your approach to owners about “how adoptable are YOU” because I think it points out something important.

        Some folks choose adult dogs from shelters because they have bought the bill of goods it will be more mature and easier to manage than a puppy. Others won’t rescue because they think the dog will come with “somebody else’s problems”.

        I think the adopting attitude could be more along the lines of, “WHAT dog behaviours/disabilities am I equipped to deal with, given my own physical/mental/training restrictions?”

        Also, having people look at *themselves* within the context of the relationship with the dog, points out what strong suits someone might bring into the dog-human bond.

        So I found it an interesting approach.

  4. My adoption ad would read something like: approaching middle age (okay, perhaps I am already there), enjoys family and friends, but needs personal space. Hoards office supplies, but shares treats well. Somewhat reluctant to get up early to exercise and a bit stubborn at times. Chatty. Responsible. Doesn’t like surprises or strangers in face. Appreciates boundaries. Appreciates a routine from time to time, but not constant. Quite awhile ago I saw a survey on the internet “what breed of dog are you?”. It was nonsense, but I filled it out anyway with honest answers….and found out I am a Border Collie. Go figure. And I think Katie would be the first in line to adopt me. There is a reason we are a good match.

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