has anyone adopted a dog sight unseen? - Mothering Forums
Pets > has anyone adopted a dog sight unseen?
daisymama12's Avatar daisymama12 12:42 AM 01-19-2010
We are starting to look a bit more actively for a dog to adopt. We have a pretty good idea of what we want, and have not found it locally yet.

While I was looking on petfinder, I came across a dog that seems great for us - it is a corgi/labrador mix, under a year old, described as great with kids, calm for her age, not yappy, etc.

The thing is, she is almost a 6 hour drive away, and I think we would be adopting her - the transport would bring her to the closest point to us. So it would be a sight-unseen adoption.

Has anyone done this? Is this totally crazy? My mind says to forget it, it's crazy to drive that far and get a dog without meeting her. But my heart is tugging the other way.

Subhuti's Avatar Subhuti 12:57 AM 01-19-2010
All of my four Newfoundland dogs were adopted sight-unseen. I had phone conversations with their owners/the rescue group to get a sense (a vague, vague sense) of what they were like. I saw a picture in two of the cases, but in the other two had no idea what they looked like, other than what might be expected because of their breed.

It worked out great. Be sure to specify your "no's" ... like we wanted a dog that was good with kids.

Newfoundlands make excellent rehomes, though, perhaps better than most dogs. Their breed hallmark is gentleness. So it is hard to go wrong. That, perhaps, emboldened me to adopt sight unseen.

Yes, they all had problems and quirks that I wasn't told about, but every dog has their problems. One dog was twice as old as they told me she was. One dog, they didn't mention that he was a maniac for food. Another was severely malnourished. Another hadn't truly been housebroken yet. But all these issues worked out over time.

Good luck!

Ola_'s Avatar Ola_ 01:32 AM 01-19-2010
Nope, we met both of ours before we adopted. Although the meetings only lasted 10-15 min but it gives you a good glimpse into the dog's personality. Would I adopt a dog sight unseen though? Hmm, I kind of doubt it, but then we are not that particular about the looks of the dog, personality is key. And unfortunately while working with a couple of rescue groups I found that some are more upfront about issues than others. So I'd probably always meet them first, and I'd recommend that unless you are a very experienced dog owner. JMHO
North_Of_60's Avatar North_Of_60 01:35 AM 01-19-2010
Not adopted, but purchased. My female jack russell came from across the coutnry. BUT, I was working with a good breeder who knows how to match puppies with the right family.

If you can work with the person fostering/adopting the dog to find out if you're the right match, PLUS make sure they offer a take-back clause, I would do it. If you absolutely cannot keep her for some reason, make sure they'll help you with transport to get her back. If they feel you're the right home for her, they'll be more than willing to work with you.
AllyRae's Avatar AllyRae 01:39 AM 01-19-2010
Yeah, kind of.... We weren't 6 hours away, but we did drive an hour to adopt our dog we had never met before. Honestly, I think it was a bit of a mistake. He had a limp when we met him, and the "rescuer" (I'm doubting she was really a rescuer at this point) said that he had been walking just fine earlier that day so he must have snagged his toenail or something.

The next day, we took him to the vet. Over $500 in x-rays and tests later and we find out he had NEVER walked fine on that leg and that he had a congenital hip disease that would at one point likely mean amputation.

Had we met him multiple times before the final adoption time, we probably would have caught the "rescuer" in the lie... So yeah, we won't be doing that again. It was a pretty expensive lie she told.
Gray's Mommy's Avatar Gray's Mommy 01:56 AM 01-19-2010
We drove an hour & a half to adopt our Germanation (german shep/dalmation mix). It was so worth the effort. He is a delighful pet & we are so happy he is with us. We decided on the spot we wanted him & the current owners "checked us" out too.
Jillie's Avatar Jillie 01:58 AM 01-19-2010
I did. I found him on petfinder also and he was about a 5 hour drive away. I talked to the shelter several times and they agreed to meet us at about half way. After about a week, when they called and said they could meet us that day, the kids and I loaded up and took off. He has been a really good dog, except that he really is a bird dog and will kill a chicken if he can. I've got a much stronger coop than I did before him. But he is really good with the kids except that he is still big and gangly and strong and occasionally swings his butt around and knocks someone over. He is cute and sweet and healthy and just what the shelter worker said. We have had him for a year now and it has been good for us.
daisymama12's Avatar daisymama12 02:24 AM 01-19-2010
oops double post
daisymama12's Avatar daisymama12 02:24 AM 01-19-2010
OP here. We just went to check up on her profile again, and decided we would fill out the application, and if approved, go and visit a friend who lives around there, and pick up the dog on the way back.

Well, that's not going to happen; it says she's been adopted already. I first saw her profile yesterday, so it was pretty quick. I'm happy for her, and not surprised she went so quickly. She seems like a fantastic dog.
Oubliette8's Avatar Oubliette8 04:26 AM 01-19-2010
My family has twice adopted dogs sight unseen and both worked out great. The first was my youngest sisters dog. It was over a four hour drive away, they met us half way. The second was my current dog. She was over 8 hours away, and they arranged transport over half way to us.

In both situations, we had a solid idea of what we wanted in a dog. Both were found on petfinder, after much careful searching- lots of dogs were rejected as not just right before we found them. We also exchanged several emails with the rescues outlining what we wanted in a dog, what our lifestyles and homes were like etc.

I should say, in both cases we were surprised when we met the dogs in person, as they did look a bit different than the pictures. I believe my sister actually saw the lady holding her dog at the meeting point, but didn't recognize it as HER dog. With my own dog, when I picked her up she was a bit more raggedy than I'd expected, and her eyes bugged out of her head, which worried me greatly the whole drive home. She was also terrified and had apparently not been leash trained, which made rest stops difficult as she tried desperately to get away from the leash which terrified her. I was glad I brought a harness as I'm sure she'd have popped a collar right off. However, we got home fine, a week or two of desensitization fixed her leash phobia (and she now has beautiful leash manners), and a good diet and proper grooming has returned her to looking much more like her breed. And her eyes only bug out when she's scared or meets new people. Besides the initial shock of her appearance, and the leash issue, she was everything they said she'd be. I've had my dog 3 years now and love her to death. My sister has had her dog for 7 years and they're inseparable. In both cases I would say it was worth it.

I should also say, I think the distance made it work out better for me. My previous dog had died and I was still having some grief issues. Had I been able to return her to the rescue easily, I might have. Since I couldn't, I was forced to make it work, and through that, we bonded. She is maybe not a dog I would have picked if I had met her beforehand, but I'm totally in love with her now.
GearGirl's Avatar GearGirl 02:24 PM 01-19-2010
I picked up Gromit sight unseen, and he is a wonderful dog, and so handsome. I not only picked him up unseen, but I hadn't even seen a photo and knew nothing about him. I had been obsessively searching pet finder and here's my caution: there was one dog that I could have sworn was the perfect dog on paper and she was adorable, who we did go meet, and it wasn't a fit. We drove two hours to Sacramento to see some puppies that were great danes, and when we saw the actual size of the parents we didn't go with them either. We thought we found a puppy about an hour away, but then the people told us they were not choosing us because our youngest was too young. So, I was in contact with a particular rescue, and I e-mailed them just to check in and that day they were getting a puppy, 10-weeks old, through another breed specific rescue a few hours away. I jumped on the opportunity to go get him for them myself (it took me 4 hours in pouring rain to get him from the middle of nowhere), I barely even saw him in the dark rain when I got him in my car because they had him outside in a cargo van, so the first time I really saw him was when I stopped at a PetCo to buy him some food and get water. The funny thing is that he is the perfect fit for us in personality, and he is unbelievably cute (something that amuses me daily for a sight unseen dog!), he looks like the kind of dog that is a TV dog, scruffy in the right places, but gorgeous.
Dar's Avatar Dar 02:50 PM 01-19-2010
We adopted our chocolate lab Keith sight unseen, off of petfinder. Her was about 5 hours from us but the shelter has someone able to take him to the large city one hour from us, and we met them there in front of petsmart. He was 12+ and a mess, and the rescuer kept asking if we were sure... and we said yes! yes! yes! He was a great dog... lived another 4 years and was a perfect sweetheart.
Tizzy's Avatar Tizzy 05:40 PM 01-19-2010
I would never do it, we pretty much did it once. It was awful.

We drove 5 hours to get her after going through the whole approval process and determining that she sounded perfect.
On the drive home she just about jumped through the window to attack a toll booth attendant. We should have turned the car around at that point. But we felt too obligated because we had driven that far already.
And thus the next 7 months of hell started, which ended up with her being put down and us being out a LOT of time and money.
The breed rescue was not up front about all of her behaviour issues and we honestly felt that we couldn't return her, and no closer rescues would take her due to these behaviour issues.

There are lots of dogs out there that need new homes, we now know to just look locally - there's no need to go to such extenuating circumstances to get a specific breed or dog.
carfreemama's Avatar carfreemama 09:12 PM 01-19-2010
Sorry this didn't work out for you!

I will say we adopted the BEST dog ever sight unseen. It was an internet match.

We don't have a car and the dog was in Cape Breton. We found him through word of mouth. He's a border collie-Ducktoller-retriever.

The reputation of the rescue worker was stellar, though and had an excellent track record of matching families with their perfect pets. The key, I think, is lots of communication and references on both sides. This woman knew her stuff.

Funnily enough, I'm not sure we would have picked him if we'd found him at a shelter or just gone to meet him. At first, he was very high-strung and his claws left great big bruises on my legs from jumping up. He pulled on my dd's clothing with his teeth. He ran away down the middle of a busy highway. All within the first 24 hours. I called the rescue worker in a panic and she told me to calm down. She was right. He calmed right down almost immediately; it's just that he'd been so badly neglected he was frantic for attention. He's just fantastic now and not like that at all.

We actually DID meet our last dog at a shelter. He turned out to have WAY more serious issues than our current dog. The big difference was how much better the people who had him knew him and the amount of time we spent talking to each other and being clear on what we needed in a dog.
cycle's Avatar cycle 01:38 AM 01-22-2010
I did, with two different dogs including the guy we just adopted last month. It all depends on the rescue group; how well they get to know the dogs and how much time they take getting to know the potential adopters. I was a bit more apprehensive with the guy we just adopted because now I have a child, the first dog I adopted was years ago when it was just me. Ralphie, the dog we just adopted last month came from a great rescue in Arkansas, we live in the Northeast! I had several discussions with the rescue group and together we decided he would be a good fit and he is perfect. My son and I picked him up about 60 miles from home in a Cracker Barrel parking lot at 5:30 in the morning. We could not have picked a better dog for us, he is a perfect fit for our family and I think we are for him. Just make sure you work with a good rescue and I think you can trust that they will match you with a great dog for you family.