Home Visits

From WAGS Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Whether to conduct a home visit is up to you. WAGS does not require them as a routine part of the adoption process, but a home visit may be appropriate based on the individual circumstances of your foster dog and his prospective adopters.

If your foster pup has special needs either physically or mentally, or the prospective adopters don't have a lot of dog experience, or if there is a specific issue that you feel you can help with (for example, if the adopters already have a dog of their own and have never tried to integrate a new dog into their household, so your experience might help that introduction go more smoothly), a home visit may be warranted. And, if you still have any lingering doubts about the suitability of the adopters, a home visit can either confirm or dispel them. Seeing people in their own homes gives you a clearer picture of who they are and how they live.

Doing a good home visit takes some time, unless the home is so horrifying that you open the door, turn around, and leave. Even if you've previously interviewed them, expect to spend about an hour talking to the adopters. It's best to budget enough time that you don't have to feel rushed.

First, assess the exterior of the home. Does it seem reasonably well maintained, with no obvious hazards littering the ground? If there is a fence, does it look secure enough to contain your foster pup? (Lack of a fenced yard need not be a dealbreaker; indeed, some of the most dedicated adopters are those who must go out of their way to ensure their dog is properly exercised, instead of just tossing him into the backyard to run around by himself.) Is there a swimming pool in the yard that the dog might fall into? Anything near the fence that he might stand on to jump over? If the home is set near the street, would a door-dashing pup be at immediate risk of being hit by a car? Perhaps a screen door might be a good safeguard to add.

Upon going inside, keep looking for potential hazards and things to troubleshoot. Are there big bay windows with a too-tempting view of the squirrel-infested backyard? Lots of power cords tangled everywhere? A garbage can sitting out and waiting to be knocked over by your trash-scrounging foster pup? Where appropriate, make suggestions and recommendations that will help your dog stay out of trouble in his new home.

I actually like to see that the furniture looks a little scuffed and the carpets are worn: it means the people who live here are comfortable with some wear and tear, and probably won't mind too much if their dog sheds or bumps into things or sneaks his way onto the couch a couple of times. On the other hand, houses that are crowded with cabinets full of crystal or shelves of delicate antiques make me a little nervous, as do the ones that look like ultra-pristine magazine layouts. Dogs are dogs, and they make messes sometimes. I don't want my foster dog getting sent back to the rescue for tracking some mud onto a white carpet. In these cases I might ask the adopters what they would do if a boisterous pup slammed into one of those cabinets while playing, and/or try to make suggestions for how to protect the more easily broken items.

If you haven't already met everyone in the family, now is your opportunity to do so. Does everyone seem enthusiastic about adding the dog to the home? Or is there anyone who sits there watching TV with no apparent inclination to join the conversation? How do the resident pets react to you (and the foster pup, if you've brought him along) entering the home? Do the resident pets appear to be clean, healthy, and reasonably well behaved? The excitement of having a visitor may cause even a well-trained resident dog to bark and jump; how do the adopters react to this?

Find out where the adopters plan to feed the dog, where he'll be sleeping, and where he'll go potty. Where is the crate situated, if the adopters are using one? Where does the resident dog eat and sleep? This is particularly important for resource guarders who might be triggered by having another dog in close proximity while they eat, or dogs with isolation distress who cry if they have to sleep alone at night, but it's valuable information to have for any foster dog.

Which areas will the dog not be allowed in, and how are they blocked off? Make sure they appear to be secure; the last thing you need is your foster dog breaking into the resident cat's room and eating Fluffy before the ink is dry on his adoption contract.

Ask if the adopters have any questions or potential trouble spots that they've considered. Often people will realize new concerns while walking through their own homes with you.

If all goes well, you might leave your foster dog with them there and then. Or you might go home and set up a later date to transfer the dog. But, hopefully, at this stage you're very close to finally placing your foster mutt.

Additional Resources: