Finding a New Home for Your Alaskan Malamute: 4
Step 6. Interviewing Callers
"First come, first served" does not apply here. You are under no obligation to give your dog to the first person who says he wants it. You have every right to ask questions and choose the person you think will make the best new owner. Don't let anyone rush you or intimidate you.
To help you along, we've included a list of questions that we ask our callers. Make copies of this list and fill in their answers as you speak to your callers. If you like, you can also mail an application for your callers to fill out and return to you. Get out the list you made with your requirements for a new home and compare it to the answers the callers give.
First of all, get your caller's name, address and phone number. Deceitful people may call you from a phone booth or give you a fake address. Ask for information that you can verify.
Does the caller's family know about and approve of their plans to get a dog?
If not, suggest they talk it over with their spouse and call you back. The same applies to people living with a companion or roommate. When one person adopts a dog without the full approval of the rest of the family, the adoption often fails.
Do they own or rent their home? If renting, does their landlord approve?
You'd be surprised how many people haven't checked with their landlord before calling you. If you have doubts, ask for the landlord's name and number, then call him yourself. Be cautious about renters - they're quicker to move than people who own their homes and movers often leave their pets behind. Remember, you're looking for a permanent home for your dog.
Does the caller have children? How many and how old are they?
If your dog isn't good with kids, say so up front. How many children can make a difference depending on your dog's personality. A shy dog may not be able to cope with several children and their friends. Very young children may not be old enough to treat the dog properly. If the callers 't have children, ask them if they're thinking of having any in the near future. Many people get rid of their dogs when they start a family.
Have they had dogs, especially Alaskan Malamutes, before? If yes, how long did they keep them?
These are very important questions! How they treated the pets they've had in the past will tell you how they might treat your dog. The following answers should raise a red flag and make you suspicious:
"We gave him away when we moved."
Unless they had to because of unavoidable problems, moving is a poor excuse for giving up a pet. Almost everyone can find a place that will allow dogs if they try hard enough. If they gave up their last dog that easily, there's a good chance they'll give yours up someday, too.
"We gave him away because he had behavior problems."
Most behavior problems - poor housebreaking, chewing, barking, digging, running away, result from a lack of training and attention. If the caller wasn't willing to solve the problems he had with his last dog, he probably won't try very hard with your dog either.
"Oh, we've had lots of dogs!"
Watch out for people who've had several different dogs in just a few years' time. They may never have kept any of them for very long.
Do they have pets now? What kinds?
Obviously, if your dog isn't good with cats or other animals and your caller has them, the adoption's not going to work out. Be up front. Better to turn people away now than have to take the dog back later. The sex of their other dogs is an important consideration. Alaskan Malamutes seldom get along with other dogs of the same sex. Dog fights can be serious problems and one dog can hurt or even kill the other. We recommend that you don't put your Alaskan Malamute into a home with a dog of the same sex unless you're absolutely sure they'll like each other.
Do they have a yard? Is it fenced?
Your dog will need daily exercise. Without a yard, how will he get it? Can the caller provide it with regular walks? If the yard isn't fenced, ask how he plans to keep the dog from leaving his property? Did the caller's last dog wander off or get hit by a car? If so, how will he keep this from happening to his next dog? Does he understand that our independent Alaskan Malamutes will wander off if left unsupervised? That they have a mind of their own and don't like to come when they're called? Does he know that keeping an Alaskan Malamute tied up can have a bad effect on the dog's temperament?
Where will the dog spend most of its time?
Although most Alaskan Malamutes love to be outside whenever they can, a whole life outdoors probably isn't what you have in mind for your dog. Dogs always kept outside are sometimes neglected, lonely and may develop behavior problems.
Why is the caller interested in an Alaskan Malamute?
Find out what kind of dog "personality" they're looking for. Many people are attracted by the Alaskan Malamute's beauty but don't know anything else about them. They might not have the slightest idea what an Alaskan Malamute is all about and might not like its temperament and characteristics. If their expectations don't match your dog's disposition, the adoption's not going to work. Be honest about our breed's good and bad points. Is an Alaskan Malamute really what they're looking for or would they do better with another breed?
References: Get the phone number of their vet (if they've had pets before) and two other personal references. Call the references! Explain that John Doe is interested in adopting your dog and you want to make sure he'll give it a good home. Ask the vet whether former pets were given regular medical care, annual vaccinations and heartworm preventative. Were they in good condition and well groomed? How long have they known this person? If they were placing a pet, would they feel comfortable giving it to this person?
Step 7: The In-Person Interview
Once you've chosen a family (or families) that you feel are good candidates, make an appointment for them to see the dog. You should actually set two appointments: one at your house and one at theirs. Going to their house lets you see whether their home and yard are truly what they said they are and whether your dog will do well there. It also gives you an opportunity to call off the adoption and take the dog back home with you if things aren't as represented, if you think there'll be problems or if you just get a bad feeling about the whole thing.
If they already have a dog, make plans to introduce the dogs on "neutral" territory, like a park. Most dogs resent meeting a strange dog at home. They may be hostile toward the new dog or even start a fight.
If the family has children, ask them to bring them to the interview. You need to see how the dog will react to them and how the children treat the dog. Some allowance should be made for children's' natural enthusiasm but if these children are undisciplined, disrespectful to your dog and not kept in hand by their parents, your dog could be mistreated in its new home and someone could get bitten.
Do you like these people? Are you comfortable having them as guests in your home? Would they make good friends? If not, don't give them your dog. Trust your instincts. If something about them doesn't seem quite right, even if you can't explain what it is, don't take a chance on your dog's future. Wait for another family!