Whether you are forced to give away a beloved companion due to moving, or you have come to the conclusion that you are ill-equipped to care for a special-needs dog, you can take responsibility to improve its life by finding it an appropriate new home.

Checklist of homing needs
Once you have determined that it’s impossible to keep or bring your dog with you, the top priority is to assess your dog’s needs. You may want to write an all-inclusive list of requirements for your dog’s ideal new home without “editing” yourself while you brainstorm. Once you have written all the items you can think of, go through and determine what is non-negotiable for your dog’s unique needs, and write an ad using those top “must-haves”.

Getting your dog ready
Keep in mind that it’s not only what your dog needs, but what prospective adopters will be looking for, so highlight your dog’s best traits in the ad as well. Therefore, make sure that your dog is transition-ready with veterinary care, is spayed or neutered, and freshly groomed.

Pre-existing, trusted connections like your friends, neighbors, local veterinarians, and social communities are a good foundation to begin your search. Once you’ve put the word out in these venues, you can also advertise in less familiar places by putting up flyers in local businesses and ads in small and large local publications. Online you can find pet home-matching sites like Petfinder.com.

Interviewing prospects
You may ask your local pet rescue for the questions they use to screen prospective adopters. By interviewing prospects over the phone first, you can eliminate poor matches.

Once you determine that a prospect is worth meeting, it’s safest and easiest for both parties to find a neutral location to introduce your dog, like a park or pet-friendly coffee shop or café with outdoor seating. If the prospect has children, it is best that they come so you can observe how they get along. If there’s potential, consider conducting a second interview in the prospective adopter’s home so you can see how your dog responds to the environment.

Always listen to your own instincts and don’t fall into the trap of being desperate to rush giving away your dog. Never give your dog away “free to the right person.” Your dog is valuable, so find a reasonable price and stick to your guns.

Transitioning pet and people
Once you’ve chosen a new caregiver, if your dog has a shyer temperament, you may want them to get as acquainted with the new people as much as possible before saying the final good-bye by having the prospective adopter visit the dog at your home. However, don’t make repeat visits to the adopter’s home — when you leave for good, it could actually be more traumatic for your dog. Usually, you’ll minimize your own grief and your dog’s by making the transition as quickly as possible.

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