Whole Dog Journal's Blog September 23, 2013

What’s the most appropriate home?

Posted at 03:17PM - Comments: (43)

Here is a topic for discussion that was inspired by real-life events.

Two couples are both interested in a big, active dog at the shelter.

One couple is older. They own their home. Property is at least several acres, but unfenced. Husband is retired and home most days, puttering in garden and with hobbies. Wife works 30 or so hours a week. They formerly owned another big, active dog, who recently died of old age. They have a 2-year-old small dog who misses having canine company. They have a trainer who they have worked with previously and plan to do so again.

Second candidate couple is young, early 20s. They are renters. They also live on several acres, but their home property is fenced. They have another big, young, active dog, a female. They both work.

My bias in placing the dog was toward the older couple. While it’s true that they lacked a fenced yard for the dog, the fact that they own their home reassures me that they won’t be at the mercy of future landlords if they have to move for whatever reason. They also have the financial wherewithal to provide the dog with whatever medical or behavioral interventions he is likely to need. A week in training? Knee or hip surgery? Wouldn’t be a problem for these people.

Staff at the shelter was biased in favor of the young couple. The fact that their property was fenced, their youth, and that they were already dealing with a big, active dog made them seem more equipped to deal with the dog’s perceived need for activity.

I’m just curious: Where would most people, or most shelter staffers, end up placing a dog like this?

Comments (43)

Older couple... this is a perfect situation. They are experienced, own their home, one of them is home most of the time. The fence, depending on the breed, can be immaterial if it's not at least six foot high! I am "older" still work, but mainly from home, live on my own and have two large dogs; one is a 6 year old rescue pit-bull mix and the other is an "intervention" (meaning he would have ended up in a shelter) 2 year old pit-bull mix.

Posted by: Nancie T | October 3, 2013 9:25 AM    Report this comment

To the person who said " I only give my foster dogs to families/homes with fenced yards.....so if you want a dog from me you have to put up a fence" I'd just like to say no, I do NOT want a dog from you. Your attitude is so typical and I wonder how many dogs are denied good and loving homes because of it. Unless you have the ability to foster an unlimited number of dogs, then dogs are dying every day because of your ironclad, no exceptions requirements. As for me, I will continue to purchase my healthy, well adjusted pets from a reputable breeder because I have no stomach for jumping through more hoops than if I were adopting a human child just to satisfy the concerns of an overly attached foster person!!!

Posted by: ANNE B | October 1, 2013 8:06 PM    Report this comment

We are an experienced foster home who has fostered in 2 states now. We fostered when we both worked and now we are both retired. I would definitely vote in favor of the home owners who have a retired husband at home. I only give my foster dogs to families/homes with fenced yards.....so if you want a dog from me you have to put up a fence.

Posted by: Olivia | October 1, 2013 7:45 PM    Report this comment

I firmly believe that our pets pick us. However, I believe that MANY animals end up on Craig's list, in rescues, and in the pound due to people renting and needing to move in a hurry and "can't take them with". Depending on what "older" is for the one couple, I would say, let the dog both couples are interested in choose.

Posted by: Linda R W | September 27, 2013 6:23 PM    Report this comment

I'm with the people who have said there's way too little information here, and not information about the things that I'd personally consider relevant.

How do these people plan to LIVE with the dog? What is their plan for training, what are their preferred approaches, how do those approaches fit the dog being discussed? What's their activity and experience level? Are they looking for any particular personality traits, and can they handle whatever quirks the dog might have? How is the dog likely to get along with each of the (very different) resident pets?

I don't care whether someone rents or owns (except SOMETIMES where the dog is of a breed often subject to BSL); I don't care whether they have a fenced yard; I don't care that much about age. I DO care about dedication, experience, financial/life stability, harmony in personality/activity level, and ability to cope with the mental and exercise needs of a large, active dog.

Posted by: Jennifer A | September 27, 2013 5:19 PM    Report this comment

I would favor the older couple, who are both home to supervise and have had a dog live out its short life without incident, in spite of "no fences." Proper training and attention are more important to the dog's welfare. Fences are overrated because dogs can escape anyway! The younger couple are likely to want to travel and start a family. Their finances are subject to change, so is their living arrangement. Past experience weighs heavily with me and the lack of it in the young people tips the scale towards the older family.

Posted by: HerdingTrainer | September 27, 2013 9:57 AM    Report this comment

Honestly, I don't think you can decide without knowing more about the dog himself. It depends on the dog, his needs, and who the dog connects with. It doesn't matter the age of the couple, or whether they rent or own in my book - which couple will make him happiest? I know active retirees, and I know incredibly responsible renters. My bias is to put the dog with the younger couple simply because he would have a companion to play with, but the two dogs might also not be friends, or they might be too active together. Or the dog may not play and prefer walks, making the older couple a better match. In a situation like this I always say, who knows the dog best, and what is their gut saying. If the shelter staff knows the dog best - and as they are the ones working with him daily, they probably do - then the young couple may be the way to go. But I have the benefit of coming from a rescue group perspective where all dogs are placed on a two week trial to make sure they are a fit for the home, we get a lot of returns in those two weeks but we get fewer returns in the long run.

I should also say I do volunteer with a rescue group that has no problem adopting to renters, and in the last five years I've been with the group we've never had a dog returned because the renter could not find housing. We have had dogs returned because of the health of the owner, or them going into retirement housing though. I probably just cursed us, but I did want to put that out there. I also do owner surrender and we get maybe one surrender a month where the person couldn't find housing, but it is normally because they lost their job and cannot afford pet friendly housing. And we have equal amounts of people who owned a home and lost it through divorce or foreclosure.

I also am one of those people who adopted in my 20s, as a renter. I'm still a renter. My parents are responsible home owners, and we're both great pet owners, but very different. My friends and I take our dogs places, take them to classes, take them hiking, we do play groups and treat them like our kids. My parents keep their dog at home and do maybe a walk a day. I also have more disposable income because I have less financial obligation (no home owner tax, school tax, no worry about my water heater going or my roof being replaced). Some cases they would hands down be the better home for a dog, and in some cases I would be.

Posted by: Alissa B | September 27, 2013 9:47 AM    Report this comment

The sweeping generalizations here about prospective owners are ver disheartening and they are really turning me off ever getting a dog from a rescue. How does making these quick judgements about age, living arrangements, etc. based on some checklist help a poor dog who needs a forever home?

"most young people don't know how to train a dog."
"Older people have small yappy, obnoxious dogs."
"Owning a home is more ideal for a pet than renting."

Wow. Talk about stereotyping people.

What about talking to people who know the prospective couples and asking them how they treated their former dog or their current dog? What about seeing who the dog feels more comfortable around? Spending some time around the family?

I'm a renter, and I'm older, and I don't have a lot of money. I've had dogs all of my adult life and took care of them like they were beloved skin children. I suppose I will have to get a dog from a reputable breeder rather than a shelter or a rescue, because I don't fit their criteria, even though everyone who knows me thinks I'm the best dog mommy they've ever met. To say that these comments are shocking is to put it mildly.

Posted by: Suzan113 | September 27, 2013 9:09 AM    Report this comment

These comments are infuriating to read! There is nothing magical about a fenced in yard. I've never had one through all my moves; I *walk* my dogs on leashes. When I got Lucy nine years ago I was a renter w/out a fenced in yard- I guess the rules were more relaxed then, thank goodness.
There are so many dogs put down everyday and so many qualified potential adopters denied, I hear it all the time! The rules are so stringent people get turned off from rescue completely. I guess I'll be King Solomon and say both couples should get a (the) dog!

Posted by: Lucys Mom | September 27, 2013 8:58 AM    Report this comment

Shelter normally do not have requirements but rescues do and the majority of them are ridiculous. I had a friend who was turned down because her and her husband did not have any kids! And I have seen way to many older folks get turned down because of their age and that is just wrong!

I adopted a dog out to a woman who was 84 years old. She was a very active, healthy woman and she had a plan in place for her dogs in case something happened to her. Plus she agreed that I would be named as an alternative if for some reason her original plan didn't work out.

This is why a lot of people opt out of adopting and buy a puppy. They get tired of being judged and having these rescues all up in their business. There are to many rules and hoops and many of them are just outrageous and then they wonder why people don't adopt a pet. all of my dogs I purchased from breeders because it is what I prefer to do, for several reasons.

In this case, I would pick the older couple. I do not think people who work full-time can properly care for a dog, let alone 2. And then what about when they have kids? Even less time for the dogs. But with so many dogs available, they can always pick another dog.

Posted by: mommadog | September 27, 2013 7:01 AM    Report this comment

I'm biased for the older couple as I am 66 with 2 border collies and have 4 1/2 acres of unfenced lawn BUT I rent. Regarding an earlier comment about rescue application qualifications----I would like to get a border collie from a rescue when the time comes but would not qualify because of the unfenced yard. Go figure.....yet my babies have a well rounded, well trained life!!!

Posted by: Sharon Perry B | September 26, 2013 10:22 PM    Report this comment

Well I am kinda living through this and dread when my older dog, who is now 13.5 yo passes on. Now I am not in my twenties anymore, but when I got my shepherd husky mix, I was 22 years old. I rented many an apartment and townhouses with him without a problem. Sure it was a little more difficult to find a place, but definitely doable. He's never had a real fenced yard except for about 2 years at one place. He has always been a well mannered well exercised dog. He had dog park trips, hikes and daily walks to keep him happy. I've seen my fair share of dogs in fenced yards that are unsocialized messes. I am a vet tech that also has 2 cats as well as my dog. And we currently live in a nice apartment but without a fenced yard. I am afraid that when it comes time to rescue a new companion, I'm going to be excluded on the fact that I rent an apartment and have no back yard. Everyone I know says I am an excellent pet owner, even my landlords. My pets are fed the best food, given the best vet care and are well socialized and loved. I hate to think some shelter or rescue would deny me because I rent and have no yard. I am even looking at getting a smaller dog than my 60 pound shepherd mix, but rescues still say mandatory fenced yards for even the smallest chihuahua. They worry that they will escape. My shepherd was an escape artist when we first got him and we trained him out of that and never had an issue. In fact he's never escaped since we've owned him. It is silly and stereotypical the requirements of these rescues. I did apply for another dog once before I got my cat and was denied on the fence and rental issue even though it was ok with the landlord. So when the time comes, I will look at petfinder and the local humane society, but if they deny me repeatedly on what I consider no issues, I will go to a breeder. Sad I know, but I will not e denied the companionship of a dog because some high and mighty rescue organization can't look outside the box so to speak.

Posted by: Unknown | September 26, 2013 10:19 PM    Report this comment

I'm not putting in a definite in either case, but I do think that not being a home owner is reason to discount someone as a potential owner. We rent, and our breeder still sold us a Great Dane, and I'm pretty sure that she is happy with her choice to do so. Heck even our land lady loves our pup. I do think a renter should need to show proof of permission to have said dog, if there is ANY question in the matter though. We are also a younger couple with a preschooler, but have a stable income, fenced yard, and all that stuff. Age is not a reason to discount anyone either. I would just need more info all the way around.

Posted by: BigPiedPuppy | September 26, 2013 10:02 PM    Report this comment

The scenario you describe was my story about 7 months ago. I work 30 hours per week and my husband is retired. We have family next door that love and help care for our pets. We lost our lovely old dog to old age related illness in September and although we tried to talk ourselves out of getting another, realized our home felt empty and our tiny mixed breed dog was bereft. Our county will not allow us to fence our small yard because of a swale running through the middle of it. However we are surrounded by acres of open space for training and play. I have raised and trained many large dogs including field trial setters. But shelter after shelter refused to accept our application - because of our age and or / lack of a fence. We were devastated and our friends were incredulous as they know our dogs are like our kids since ours are now grown and gone. The things I would like to point out are: 1) Older people often have more time, patience and resources to make the most of their dog family. My goal is to pursue agility training and therapy dog training - things I did not have time or money to do when raising kids and working full time. 2) A fence does not equate to a socialized, stimulated, good - neighbor dog. We all know plenty of lovely fenced yards trapping a fence running, barking, anxious pet. 3) If it is the goal of a shelter to place dogs who need a good home, they are closing the door on many good families. As much as we would all like to see puppy mills and pet stores STOP selling dogs, all they require is a credit card and a family has their pet. Making it nearly impossible to adopt a needy pet helps no one. We ended up buying a Golden Retriever pup from a breeder. He is a lovely, delightful 9 month old pup. Granted, some days he is a trial but what toddler isn't? He spends hours on walks, and swimming in a local stream. He has been trained well to our house rules and to obeying off lead, romping in the open spaces surrounding our home for supervised exercise time. He adores the activity of our kids and grand kids - and their dogs - coming in and out. And he is a great "baby" brother to our 4 year old Maltese mix (13 pounds to our pup's 70+) The only one still unsure is our cat who has yet to come down to meet her brother after 7 months! Please entreat your shelter friends to look beyond their checklist questionnaire. Age + Fence does not guarantee that a person will or will not be a good pet family.

Posted by: Kathleen B | September 26, 2013 8:19 PM    Report this comment

I agree not enough info here to make a choice based on that alone. I would be looking at which owners are the most dog savvy, are pre-disposed toward positive training approaches, and will be spending quality time with the dog. Knowing or being committed to learn how to care for and train a dog to be a good companion is far more important than age or having a fence.

Posted by: Beverly H | September 26, 2013 11:08 AM    Report this comment

I was 21 when I found my canine soul mate, a small hungry puppy in an alley. I gave him a home and nursed him back to health. I paid his vet bills with my 7-11 salary of $8 an hour.

Then I moved to another rental home and finished college while working two jobs. And I continued to feed, provide vet care (with heartworm meds) and love him. I was still a single 20-something.

When I got my "Big Girl" job, his tore his anterior cruciate ligament. I paid for his surgery ($4500+), while still living in a rental house, and worked 45+ hours a week. And still managed to personal provide 14 weeks of rehab so he could learn to use his knee again.

He is eleven years old and in perfect health (as told by his recent blood test result) and happy. And throughout his life: I have lived in 5 rental homes. Worked for below to the poverty line. Grew into my 30's. Lived in a house without a fence. He earned his CGC. Lived with another large dog (lab). Donated money and time to rescue organizations. And much more.

Image the love and devotion he would have missed if I had been denied adopting him based on my age, living arrangements, lifestyle, income and the limited view of others.

We are all individuals and should not be judged by superficial qualities. It is about the chemistry we have with our pets and that can be hard to see and hard to find. We should measuring adopters based on something more than just facts.

Posted by: Chassie S | September 26, 2013 10:04 AM    Report this comment

I don't feel comfortable placing the dog in either home, with the information given.

You did not indicate the age of the "older" couple or theri fitness level. I've done rescue for 15 years of a large, highly active, sporting breed. The non-fenced yard IS problematic if the dog likes to chase critters or is predatory. The older couple had a old dog who died BUT they were younger when they had the dog (10-15 yrs ago) than they are now, & they got used to a less active & demanding dog in that time. Often, we DO see problems, when older people think they can still handle a new but much younger & far more active (and far less well-trained) dog. So a better determination on their well-being & fitness is required, plus how the large dog will get along with their smaller dog.

The younger couple has not been asked if they have done any training with the current dog. Too often people get a second dog to keep the first company or think the two dogs will exercise each other. If they've done no training beyond housebreaking(?) & crate-training (no formal obedience classes) etc. w/ the current dog, I am doubtful they will do what's best for the new dog, esp if the current dog is out of control or has bad habits. The new potential dog needs to be trained so that if they move to a new rental situation or if they add kids, the dogs will be well-behaved. I agree we see far too many dogs boomerang back into rescue once kids arrive, unless the ownes have put work & effort into making them into good canine companions. We all know that dogs also BOND better & faster when they go thru classes with an owner & that training puts the owner in the proper position, as leader, if they can learn how to get the dog to mind them.

Therefore (IMO) somebody needs to do more homework on BOTH couples before choosing either, or choosing neither.

Posted by: Betsy | September 26, 2013 3:32 AM    Report this comment

As a 25 year old homeowner and owner of two rescued bully breeds, I take some offense to the notion that young people can't EVER be responsible adopters. I am a professional dog groomer and have also worked at a rescue group for several years. I have trained my dogs with the help of a Triple Crown-trained behaviorist/trainer and have had one of them certify as a CGC with the intent of volunteering at my local library for the 'reading with dogs' program (with all of my spare time- seeing as I am working toward my state certification in elementary education, work full time at the local school, and groom when I'm not at school...). I run with my dogs off-leash almost every day, take them on back-country skiing and whitewater rafting adventures, and they sleep on my bed at night.

Personally, I have worked hard to dispel the 'bully breed myths' and also to show the rescue community (through my actions as a responsible dog-owner) that young people can be responsible adopters. I love my dogs and when I do have children, they will still be a part of my family. I would hope that rescue organizations evaluate each potential adopter as an individual, rather than stereotype based on age. That kind of stereotyping sounds hauntingly familiar to me as a pit-type dog owner and can only lead to more dogs left without loving homes.

Posted by: Safety Kate | September 25, 2013 1:12 PM    Report this comment

Older couple, hands down!

Posted by: KELLI B | September 25, 2013 9:21 AM    Report this comment

Another vote for the older couple. My wife and I are in our 60's, we lost our 2 previous very large "rescued" dogs (litter mates) about 6 years ago and we waited until one of us was fully retired before getting a new puppy last year. She is a Doberman Pinscher, our first Doberman, and we have had a fantastic time going to socialization and obedience classes with her. She is now 14 months old, recently spayed, and goes everywhere with my wife - pet stores, home improvement stores, city and state parks - while I'm at work. We all go to various places on weekends and some nights. She is very well socialized, and receives many compliments on her looks and manners. We do have a large fenced yard that we have used for a lot of leash and recall training - she is never left alone in her yard. The amount of owner involvement in training and socializing their dog while young is paramount to having a well behaved adult dog. Some, not all, younger folks have a lot of other "irons in the fire" and their dog, unfortunately, gets left behind.

Posted by: Bubba Ron | September 25, 2013 8:16 AM    Report this comment

I am *so* frustrated with the routine requirement that prospective adopters have a *fenced* yard! How many stories do you have to read about gates left open or fences jumped to realize a fence gives a false sense of security. Years ago I was denied adoption for lack of a fence, which led to many happy years of owning Labs from reputable breeders. I wouldn't dream of leaving my dog outside unattended, fence or no fence. My dogs are on leash only until trained to rock solid recall and even then are loose only in areas far from any road. I think people in rescue see and hear about so many horrible situations that they become overly mistrustful of all humans. In any case I don't think a decision can be made only from what's presented here but I would tend to go with the older couple based on their free time and previous experience.

Posted by: ANNE B | September 25, 2013 3:43 AM    Report this comment

Definitely the older couple -- and not just because I am 'older'.

But young people have a more unpredicatble future than an old couple. Then both of the young partners work -- I can see two dogs left alone all ay, owners too tired to bother trining and the "new" dog being rehomed as "it didn't work out".

The older couple know what they are getting themselves into and are far more likely to be committed to to new dog.

(Actually I would be VERY reluctant to rehoming any dog to people in rented accommodation!)

Posted by: Jenny H | September 24, 2013 8:09 PM    Report this comment

I had to make this same decision for a lost Sheltie, but I used different criteria to find the best home. A beautiful male Sheltie showed up on my doorstep with no ID. Every vet and organization I contacted asked me to keep the dog while they searched for the owner. After 2 weeks there were two families interested in taking the dog. Both families came to my house for an interview. First was an older woman whose old Sheltie died and she wanted another to love. Second was a young mother with pre-school kids, boy and girl. The older woman talked to me, but not to the dog. She tried to convince me that her home was good, but she never even touched the dog. The young mom talked to me while her kids played with the dog, and she kept a close eye on how her kids interacted with the dog. The dog looked happy, so I gave the Sheltie to the young family. The older woman was upset, but this was a dog who had followed me absolutely everywhere for two solid weeks - there was no way I was going to give him to a woman who didn't interact with him. I know from sad experience that a fenced yard doesn't keep a dog perfectly safe. What matters most is the relationship you have with your dog.

Posted by: SundogsHawaii | September 24, 2013 5:38 PM    Report this comment

I don't know whether a fenced yard or not is really crucial to a consciencious dog owner....(there have been articles on this particular site how owners with fences never exercise their dogs).....but what I absolutely do know is the older couple has much more TIME than the young couple....isn't that what is most important?

Posted by: Rebecca L | September 24, 2013 3:59 PM    Report this comment

I couldn't even get through all the ridiculous age related comments . I am a retired 69 year old woman and just got a Labrador puppy to train in agility. He will be my third agility partner. My 2 other labs are 10 and 13 and retired from the sport, but I am not ready to quit. I got mine from a reputable breeder because of the early spay/neuter requirements of rescue groups.

Posted by: addictedtolabs | September 24, 2013 3:50 PM    Report this comment

Older couple. And for the record, there are older folks who have properly trained their small dogs. I am 55 with a Chi. He is 1 year, 4 months old. Everyone comments that he is the best behaved, calmest Chi they have ever encountered. It is possible. People just need to make the effort and take the time to do it. I can take him to visits anytime, because everyone loves my Louie!

Posted by: Unknown | September 24, 2013 2:28 PM    Report this comment

I'm a breed rescue volunteer and have fostered dogs, done home visits, and made adoption decisions. Reputable rescues check references, do home visits, and require an agreement that the dog come back to them if the adopters can't keep them for any reason. In this case, observing the dog with the potential owners and their current dogs will help with the decision. As someone commented earlier, very often the rescued dog picks his people. It is sometimes obvious that dogs and potential adopters just "click".

Posted by: Chris S | September 24, 2013 12:45 PM    Report this comment

We are an older couple that had lost the Golden we had since a pup. We decided to adopt thru the Golden Retriever Rescue of our state (Michigan). We owned our home, one person almost always home, etc. But it seemed that when we found a dog we liked, the organization seemed to come up with restrictions such as having a fenced yard (we didn't, but had a back yard patio and religiously walked our previous twice a day), we had no children (which seemed to be a prerequisite),etc. Frustrated after a couple months, we decided to again go to a breeder, and nine years later we couldn't be more pleased with this intelligent and caring member of the family. I still wonder why G.R.R. of Mi continued to deny us, but if and when we decide to get another, it will most certainly be via the breeder.

Posted by: HERBERT K | September 24, 2013 12:10 PM    Report this comment

Many well intended persons decide that because one dog is fun two would be better. Depends on the dogs and the owners.
I don't think it's the age of the owner. I think it's the unknown future that needs to be considered. One might think with an older couple that the dog would outlive the owner. Now what for the dog?
At the same time the younger couple are more likely to move and may find that the new location will not allow dogs. Again, what happens to the dog?
I would think the better way to handle this is to watch the interaction between the prospective owners. Dogs pick people as much, if not more, than we pick them. If it were make the decision now, no second chances, I'd go with the older couple. They've already shown, I'll bet many times over, how well they can care for a dog.

Posted by: Barbara W | September 24, 2013 12:03 PM    Report this comment

I'd choose the older couple, pending a meeting of the new dog and the resident dog and exacting a solemn promise that the dog would not be outside off leash. I am not fond of adopting to people in their early 20s. Our experience is that they get married, start having kids then suddenly, the dog is a problem. Before I get bashed, let me reiterate that this is the experience of our rescue. We have about a 5% return rate and it's almost always people who adopted a dog when they were in their early 20s, before they had kids. We do small breed rescue.

Posted by: rescuekim | September 24, 2013 11:50 AM    Report this comment

With the information presented I would go with the older couple. The fact that they would train the dog, have had an older dog that died, they own their house (most likely won't move and aren't at the mercy of a landlord, and have someone home who could supervise the dogs. I would like to know more about both couples, their dog experiences, the present dog, and the age of the older couple and the age of the dog they wish to adopt.

Posted by: Stella M | September 24, 2013 11:45 AM    Report this comment

We were an older couple, rural no fencing. We used leash until we decided our 6 month old Wheaten needed room to run..so installed first fence in 35 years. Older couples adopting more likely to do what it takes for their dog/son. On our 6th series of fun and games socialization classes after two pupply socialization training classes.

Posted by: Chris D | September 24, 2013 11:43 AM    Report this comment

I have to agree with "Black Lab." There is not enough information here to make a decision, and that is the one problem I have with many rescues. A friend of mine was denied the opportunity to adopt a certain breed (Papillon) because she had never owned that breed before! Really?! I will be 60 my next birthday. My dog has a fenced yard. He needs more activity than that. We run several miles together every morning, and I take him for another walk in the evenings, along with his time with his canine buddies in the back yard or at the park. Weekends and some evenings we participate in dog sports. I work full time, but my husband is retired and at home most of the day. I'm probably no more secure financially than the younger couple, and I may or may not be less physically fit. However, my dogs' welfare is my priority, and that's what rescues need to look at in their rehoming attempts, not just the physical characteristics on the form.

Posted by: tinydcr | September 24, 2013 11:13 AM    Report this comment

One option is to accept neither home.
I would not be happy with the home with the older couple. The dog could get killed on a road the very first day he goes to them. The pottering man in the garden will not be paying enough attention to the dog to prevent him from leaving their property. The large rambunctious dog may be too rough for the older couple's small dog. Everyone says they have resources; if they have resources then they should be able to fence part of their property for the safety of their dogs. I'd suggest that the dogs definetly meet to see if they seem compatible, and that the couple use some of their ample resources to correct the deficit of a fenced yard.
The younger couple could have changing circumstances in the future, for sure. However, at least they have a safely fenced yard, today, so the dog will not be killed on the road, today. And their other dog is more likely to be compatible. Even though they both work and are gone all day, these 2 dogs could be together playing in the safely fenced yard together, so there is no reason for them to be lonely. I'd suggest that the dogs meet first to see how they interact.
One thing we can't do in this scenario is assess the people themselves. The older couple could be stable as rocks, or they could be inattentive or removed from reality in some way or any other thing. The young couple could be stable as rocks, or they could be drug users or having domestic violence issues or any other thing; just like the older couple could. So, beyond the simple factual circumstances, assessment of the human beings is the most important thing. We all try to do that, no one is 100% successful at doing it.
Lastly, you will, I hope, have a stringent and legally enforceable contract with whoever adopts the dog, you will keep in contact with them for the lifetime of the dog, you will take back the dog at any sign of a problem, and you will enforce the contract if it is breached, just as I do for any dog I breed and place. So, if this or any placement does not work out, for any reason and at any time, even years later, the dog has you as a safety net for his or her lifetime. Right?

Posted by: Yvonne M | September 24, 2013 11:08 AM    Report this comment

@Margaret M - I guess I've only seen the opposite. Older couples tend to have a small, loud, obnoxious, yappy dogs and no wherewithal to control them. They jump up, lick hands/face and nip fingers, bark at every dog (big or small), and have no formal training.
It has been the younger crowd that have dogs that play well and know boundaries. Sure, I've had dogs jump on me from them also, but they tend to react quickly and correct the behavior where the older couples just sit or don't even notice.
On the actual question...I agree with Black Lab and Linda L. It's hard to say with such little information who the better family would be. I would like to know more before I made a decision like that. The older couple may be on fixed income with a paid for house. That means they aren't likely to move (good) but if knee/hip surgery is needed, they can't afford that kind of expense. Young couple may move in town, around the state or even out of state. I know because it happened to me and my dog. We have spent hours together to relax him and let him know we care and aren't leaving him, but we never expected to even move when we got him. So, maybe a bit more info about the financial situation of both and the likelihood of them caring for and staying close is the best answer.
Just my thoughts.

Posted by: Unknown | September 24, 2013 11:05 AM    Report this comment

This is a no brainer, the older couple.

Posted by: Unknown | September 24, 2013 11:04 AM    Report this comment

I would need to hear the people talk about their current and past pets. How do they love them, care for them, spend time with them. My initial leaning was toward the older couple but the young couple could be great pet owners. Yes, the young couple could be more transient but they could also make the needs of their dogs a priority. I was and I did. We don't know whether or not they know anything about training a dog. They already have a dog, they could already use a dog walking or day care service. They could have gotten good jobs right out of college so care is not an issue. The older couple could decide to downsize. Many "adult" communities have restrictions on the number or size of pets allowed. Older people are more likely to become ill or become responsible for their elderly parents care. Age, location and even finances are not necessary good quantifiers. It's more intangible than that. I was a responsible dog (and cat) owner in my 20's and I am still a responsible pet owner now that I'm nearing 60. Having said all that, I realize that you have to make judgements somehow. I guess I'd hope for a good gut feeling on the life the dog would have and a guarantee that, if there was any issue, there was a plan to care for or re-home the dog in a loving good home.

Posted by: COLLEEN T | September 24, 2013 11:01 AM    Report this comment

I would go with the younger couple. The older couple did have a large active dog but it recently died of old age. When the couple had that dog they were younger too. I see this scenario in my classes all the time. Older couples think because they had a large active dog when they were younger they can do it again. I have not found that to be the case. The younger couple already knows the needs and demands of a young active dog and have the stamina to work with that. Not so the older couple. They also have a fenced yard where they can play with the dogs in safety and are more inclined to be active and walk or run .

However, given only this info I would not place the dog with either couple.

Posted by: Linda L | September 24, 2013 10:52 AM    Report this comment

I really can't believe the comments I am reading!

Who says the older couple is more financially secure than the younger couple? Owning a house doesn't make you rich, and renting doesn't make you poor.

And the older couple's dog dying of old age proves that they are good dog owners? Sure, the older husband is retired and putters around in the garden, but maybe he completely ignores the dog.

I certainly hope the final judgement wasn't based on a 1 paragraph description of each prospective adopter, as you people have done.

Posted by: Black Lab | September 24, 2013 10:47 AM    Report this comment

I agree with Donna's comment -- I'd go with the old couple. In my experience, most young people have NO IDEA how to train a dog and do not understand the need for professional training for the dog -- the result is inevitably an untrained, obnoxious dog that jumps all over people and may bully and/or bite dogs and people. I have met quite a few of these terrible dogs at the local dog park and they are always owned by young men and/or women. The well-mannered dogs I've met at the park are owned by older folk.
Also, the young people you mention above both work -- so the poor dog will be left alone all day to bark, irritate the neighbors, and tear up the rented house.

Posted by: margeam | September 24, 2013 10:30 AM    Report this comment

I'm for the older couple. They have past experience with dogs and are more secure financially and probably emotionally as well. Having somebody at home most of the time is crucial when bringing a new dog home. People in thier 20's haven't really settled down yet and with both working....who knows what kind of trouble 2 big young dogs will get into. After working all day and coming home to an acerage which probably requires work....not much time for good dog training.

Posted by: Bob H | September 24, 2013 10:30 AM    Report this comment

Yep, the older couple has already proven themselves with their previous dog dying of old, age.

Posted by: Unknown | September 24, 2013 10:25 AM    Report this comment

The old couple. The young people are not reliable or in a financial position to best provide for the dog. They don't even have a place for him and have to rent. Seen too many wind up at shelters from this kind of stuff.

Posted by: DONNA L | September 24, 2013 10:15 AM    Report this comment

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