* * Reprint permission granted: Great Pyrenees Rescue of Northern California , Inc.* *

You've made the decision: your dog can no longer live with you. The reasons for this decision are as varied as the people who make them and the dogs who are affected by them. So what steps can you take to assure your dog the kind of home you feel it needs?

  1. If your dog was purchased from an individual, a breeder, CALL THE BREEDER and let them know you need to find a new home. A conscientious breeder will be interested in helping a dog of her own breeding. Do not expect her to buy the dog back. The breeder satisfied her obligation to you in supplying you with the pet you contracted for; your current problems with it is not her fault. But she may know of someone who wants a dog like yours.

  2. Let your veterinarian know. Many vets do referrals for clients looking for a new dog. He will know your pet's health and temperament and might be in a position to make a referral. Ask the receptionist about this. If there is a bulletin board, make up a neat card with your dog's picture and post it there.

  3. If your breed has a local club that handles breed referrals, contact them. If you aren't a member of their club, they may not be able to help you, but some, like the Great Pyrenees Club of California have procedures to assist any owner of their breed. If you are asked to fill out forms or questionnaires, do so promptly. The sooner you cooperate with them, the more willing they will be to assist you.

  4. Ask your vet or SPCA if there is a private referral or placement service in your area. These are usually fee-for-service. Most request a fee to list your dog; find out what their success rate is. Since most will not physically take your dog if there is not an immediate home available for him, you may have to wait some time for a placement.

  5. Be realistic about your expectations for a home, and honest about the dog's abilities and problems. Don't look for "a home in the country so the dog can run". A dog running loose in a rural area is in as much or more danger than the dog running loose in the city---traffic, other animals, ranchers with guns---all are guaranteed to shorten his running career in a hurry. If your dog is a chronic barker, or has a medical problem, or is touchy about food, grooming or handling,be honest about this---otherwise the next owner may not take the trouble to look for a good home and just dump him at the pound or on a back road to fend for himself.

  6. And while we're on the subject of "problems" - ask yourself why anyone would want to take on the problems you are getting rid of? If you haven't housebroken your dog, the next owners will probably condemn him to a lonely life in the yard. If he's not learned to walk on a leash, come when called and stand quietly while groomed, how much enjoyment will the next person get out of him? The dog with a poor disposition - one who may react by snapping or biting - must never be handed on to someone else. The legal liabilities involved can be terribly expensive for you, the former owner.

  7. If you decide to advertise your dog's availability, don't do so in a "free" shopper; use the classified ad section of your daily newspaper. And ask a reasonable price for the dog. On the one hand, the dog that is given away, free, is valued as worthless. Unscrupulous dealers, looking for pit-fighting bait, for laboratory specimens, for puppy- factories all regularly check the "free dog" ads. You dog deserves better than this. On the other hand, although you paid a good price for your dog, his value has gone down, not up. Like a car, a dog depreciates from the moment it is purchased. Unless you have a proven Champion, or a highly trained working dog, your dog is worth far less now - whatever its age - than it was at seven weeks of age. That's just the way the market works. Check the newspapers for ads for dogs of similar age and breed. If you are reluctant to "sell" your friend, still set a price and ask that the check be made out as a donation to your favorite breed Rescue or SPCA.

  8. Act responsibly. Spay your bitch before placing her so she doesn't end her life as a puppy-factory, producing more unwanted pets. Don't just turn the dog loose, hoping some kindly person will find it and give it a home. Fear and hunger will cause your dog to avoid strangers once you have abandoned him, and his life is more likely to end under the wheels of a car than at someone's fireside. And don't take him to the pound expecting that they will find him that perfect home. Puppies are the most placeable animals in any shelter or pound, and thousands of them are killed every week because there aren't enough homes to go around. Even if your dog is the lucky one in ten that is placed, he will always be haunted by the memory that you abandoned him, and will expect his new masters to do the same.

  9. If, after all the above, your dog is too old, or too ill, or too undisciplined to find a new owner, talk to your vet about euthanasia. If you can do nothing to find your dog a loving home, you owe him the dignity of a painless death, in the arms of the one person he loves most. Only a hateful coward would refuse him that.

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