The difference between a forever home visit and a bad placement
What is a Home visit? Why is one needed?
Too often home checks are rushed through or not done at all. The reasons can be anything from not enough time or volunteers to do a thorough job to a potential adopter sounding “perfect”. Yet the 20 or 30 minutes it takes to do a walk through can mean the difference between a forever home and a bad placement. It can be daunting to try and find a Boston it’s forever home. The responsibility can be overwhelming. But there are some things we can do to make the best choice possible.
Once the adopter has been interviewed and the references have been verified, it’s time for the home visit.
We all want placements to work out, but it can be hard to go through some one’s home and find that it just isn’t the best fit for the dog. On rare occasions it can even become confrontational. But the most important thing to remember is that this is a life-long decision for the dog. An up front and honest conversation BEFORE the actual visit is imperative. Let the potential adopter know that no matter what their wants are, nothing matters more than the needs of the dog.
Most people will clean like crazy before a home check. The truth is that dust on the furniture and hair balls in the corner don’t matter. Safety takes precedent over appearance.
To that end here are some ideas on what has worked in the past.
Outside the perimeter of the fence. Look for any holes, loose spots, missing boards and gates that don’t latch all the way. If a fence is not a requirement, see what plans they have for letting the dog out to do his business. If a zip line set up is to be used, look to see what area it covers. Make certain that getting tangled up around a tree or shrub is not an issue. Stress to the adopter that the dog should never be left out unsupervised while on a line. It takes less than 5 minutes for a dog to strangle if he gets strung up on his line. The same is true for any lead or line that allows a dog to get up on a porch or set of stairs. What might be a simple fall to an untethered dog can be disastrous to one who’s leashed. Walk the yard either way and look for hidden dangers. It comessyrduld be something as simple as a small pond or as large as a swimming pool.
Check out the garden. Find out what plants are used in landscaping and ask what type of fertilizer is used. It’s easy to choose a plant based on its beauty and hardiness while not realizing it’s poisonous to our beloved Boston Terriers. Most commercial lawn fertilizers recommend that pets be kept off the grass for a certain period of time. As it varies from product to product make sure the potential family understands the dangers and is willing to comply with the manufacturer’s suggestions.
Are there tools leaning against a wall or laying on the ground? Is there a shed that the pup could get into? What about access to a garage or carport?
We all know the dangers of anti-freeze, but turpentine, bleach, gas cans and such are commonly stored in places like this. Make certain that none of these are low enough to the ground for the dog to reach them. And in the event of a cement floor, it’s wise to look for stains.
And here’s a special little tip most folks overlook. Take a peek into the family car! That lets you know how people REALLY live. They might clean the house, but it seems they never think of the car. Nose smears on the windows are a good thing if they already have a dog. It means their current little buddy gets the joy of riding in the car. But if there’s a cemetery of fast food wrappers and empty pop cans on the floor, who knows what might be lurking under the seats for fuzzy little faces to snack on.
In the house are the same concerns about kitchens and bathrooms as there are about garages. Just mention potential problems and how best to make a Boston proof home. Another sneaky little tip is to check out any family pictures. Nosy as that is, it will give you a little more insight into the family’s lifestyle. Side note: an entire wall of Boston photos should be duly praised and enjoyed. Chat about past pets and future plans with the new dog. Surprising things can come out in casual conversation that wouldn’t be on a carefully thought out application.
During the application process you’ll already have asked what they are planning to feed. If there is already a furry little friend in residence, ask to see what that little one is eating. As paranoid as it seems, I’ve been appalled to find out that dogs that I was told would be eating Taste of the Wild end up munching on Ol’Roy.
If there is no furry friend waiting for a new pal go ahead and ask where the new pup’s food and water bowl will be. If they are novice dog owners you might be able to help them with choosing the best place for the bowls.
I always use stainless steel. It doesn’t scratch like plastic and so can’t hold bacteria. It’s easy to sterilize and lasts forever.
Never apologize for the intrusion and the endless questions. Smile and make conversation. Ask politely about the photos. Compliment the furnishings and flowers. Praise the good things and gently correct the bad. But never downplay the importance of your visit. This is a life we’re looking to place in a stranger’s hands. When the potential family sees the value we place on our charges lives and futures it raises the dog’s value in their eyes as well.
When all is said and done, we as the guardians of these wonderful dogs hold the ultimate responsibility for their lives. When we hold that fact in our hearts we make the best possible choices for their futures.
Re-positing of this article is done with the permission of Donna Curtin of the Boston Terrier Network — full of Boston Terrier and canine information, news, and adoptables. Copyright © 2016. Boston Terrier Network