Rehoming a dog: A Breeder’s Responsibility

Saluki Friends
A good breeder’s worst fear is having to take back a dog. Sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise because the dog ends up in a better home than where it began.  Our dog contract states that if an owner cannot keep their dog, that dog must be returned to us. What happens with the stud puppy, where no contract exists between you and the new puppy owner? This article focuses on the three instances where rehoming a dog became necessary.  It also tells the story of Ami, a Saluki coming back to us.

The Contract

A reliable breeder should have a contract.  Our contract establishes many things, including the criteria for returning one of our Salukis.  The contract incorporates three different clauses when it comes to giving a dog back.  The first clause stipulates we will buy back the dog from its owner at any time up to two years of age for the purchase price if they are not satisfied that the dog is of show quality.  With pet homes the clause reads, we will buy back the dog at any time up to two years of age for the purchase price if there is a genetic medical problem. These provisions occur if the dog is in otherwise good health and fully paid for at that time.

The second clause says if at any time after the dog is two years of age the owner no longer wishes to or no longer can keep this Saluki, he/she may return the dog to us with registration papers signed over to my husband and me. There is no provision for refund after the dog is two years of age.

Finally, a statement in the contract delineates that the dog will not be sold, given to, or leased to any third party unless we approve these options.

Finding A Puppy Home

As a breeder, I am very particular about my homes.  My real estate experience leasing homes comes into play when I try to determine the best forever homes for my pups.  I do not run a credit check as in a lease, but I typically complete a home check. If I do not live nearby the potential home, I have a friend in the area facilitate a home check.

Most importantly, I go on the vibes I get when speaking extensively with the potential puppy owner.  I consider myself lucky to have found good homes for the dogs I have placed.  There have been only three instances that required rehoming a dog.  In each, the circumstances involved either the health of the individual or a relocation.

Ami and Zeus
Ami and Zeus as puppies.

Rehoming A Dog: Parker

The first rehoming occurred when the owner of Parker died.  In this case, the owner was at the Saluki National.  Although I did not attend, I happily would have flown out to get Parker.  Instead, dear friends took care of Parker for the remainder of the show. Another set of friends took him home and ultimately drove from St Louis to Chicago to fly Parker to Los Angeles.

During that time, I tried to find a new home for Parker.  I thought I had a home, but as the process of getting Parker back to Los Angeles went on, I determined this was not the ideal home.  In the end, it was the right move because Parker became one of our gang, and I became very attached to him.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, this decision was right for another reason as Parker only lived for another year and a half before getting cancer.

Rehoming a Dog -Parker
Parker came to me in 2011 after his owner passed away.

Rehoming A Dog: Zeus

My second encounter with rehoming one of my Salukis occurred when an owner moved to London and could not take her Salukis. As I talked with a friend about my dilemma of finding a new home, I realized I had a home, and it was within two hours of where Zeus currently resided in Canada.

Someone had contacted me the year before after seeing Zeus at a dog show. She loved his movement and stature. She and her husband were snowbirds in the Phoenix area during the winter and spring.  Fortunately, I was able to meet them when I traveled to Phoenix for a dog show. They were on our puppy list for our next litter. I immediately contacted them by email, and within about 20 minutes of writing them, she responded that they wanted Zeus. My first question, after such a quick response, was, “Is your husband on board?” I would not approve of a home without both parties agreeing. Of course, the husband agreed. It thrilled me to find a home within an hour of discovering Zeus’ dilemma.

Rehoming a Dog- Zeus
Zeus in 2014. Photo Courtesy Brenda Marqardson.

Zeus went on to be one of the top Salukis and sighthounds in Canada, but also, more importantly, he is dearly loved and gets his five-mile walks daily. Whenever I get updates on Zeus, his original owner does too. This gesture says a lot about the kindness and consideration of his current home.  In my opinion, this home turned out to better than his first one. Today Zeus has a buddy from our last litter. Zeus is the kind of story everyone wants to hear.

Zeus and me in 2019.

Rehoming A Dog: Ami

Finally, there is the story of Ami. He was the stud puppy, and I had nothing to do with his placement. The owner of the stud dog placed him. He went to a couple in Pennsylvania, who had a Saluki and a Dachshund. At three months Ami broke his leg. He did well until he went to the vet for a check-up. A dog attacked him and damaged his broken leg. Unfortunately, the leg never healed properly.

After that, I think the wife lost interest in Ami. She soon passed away, and Ami lived another five years with the husband until the man had a stroke. Relatives threw Ami and his Saluki buddy into a barn. People worried he might be put down. Somewhere along the way, someone discovered I was the breeder and contacted me. I then set out to find Ami a home, but in the meantime, Ami and his roommate needed to get out of living in a dreadful barn.

A friend of the owner came to the rescue and drove him up to the Finger Lakes where he stayed for a weekend with their Afghans. That weekend there was a dog show in the Finger Lakes area, so a Saluki friend attending brought him back to Pennsylvania. Another Saluki friend arranged to get Ami and take him to Delaware and foster him until I could find a home or arrange to get him back to Los Angeles.

I had a couple of potential homes when I heard that Ami had a massive lump on his upper rear leg. I could not let Ami go into a home where the potential for expensive surgery existed. Ultimately, I decided that he had to come back and live with my family. Fortunately, my mother, who lives with me, had just lost her Saluki so I figured Ami would be her dog.

Rehoming a Dog - Ami
Ami in 2015.

Bringing Ami Home

Since Ami did not like being alone from his experiences in the barn, my mother and I decided to fly to Washington, D.C., to pick him up. We soon discovered his anxieties required I keep a watch on him. Therefore Ami became attached to me. Ami went from bed to bed, crying the entire night before we flew home. Fortunately, he was relatively calm on the plane. When Ami entered our home, his mother, sister and our young puppy, who took to him immediately, greeted him. At night he slept with my mother.  When she took a vacation, Ami discovered the gang upstairs in our bedroom. Since then he sleeps on our bed every night.

Two days after Ami’s arrival, he underwent surgery to remove the lump.  At the same time, we neutered him since we had a house full of females. Luckily the mass resulted from exposure to the sun and was not cancer. We also found his teeth severely neglected. To this day, we have to keep a close watch on his dental care.

Ami with Toy
Ami playing with a toy.

Ami still exhibits separation anxiety.  He also does not enjoy going to the vet, but as anyone knows who rescued a neglected dog; it takes time for them to recover from these situations. Ami is better, and with the help of calming aids has learned to be a happy dog. Under these circumstances, we felt we were the only ones to provide the best home for Ami. Today Ami at ten years old is uncle and boss to our younger pups.

Ami Today
Ami today.

The Learning Experience

As a breeder, one must evaluate the circumstance for each dog. We, fortunately, have been lucky and care about the well-being of our dogs even after they leave our home. We learned from Ami’s experience. In the future, if a dog leaves our home as a stud puppy, we intend to formulate a contract stipulating the dog comes back to us and not the owner of the stud. We are grateful the Saluki community stepped forward to help a Saluki in need. Finally, we were fortunate that people thought to contact us regarding Ami. What if they had not? Where would Ami be today?