How to ask someone if they will give their dog to me, as they don't seem to care for it
February 15, 2005 4:08 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to approach someone, who doesn't seem to care in the least for their pet, and ask them if they would like to give the dog a better home by letting me take him? (MI)

I walk my dog by the house everyday, at different times of the day and I have never seen anyone from the house play with the dog at all. He spends all day, everyday out on the deck next to the living room looking in. Its raining this week so I didn't expect to see him but yep, he's out there, in the rain looking forlorn, lonely and bored.

He's a great little dog with an awesome personality who would love to have a playmate and someone to give him some attention.

My best idea thus far is to see if they'd like me to take him out to play with my dog and figure out from there if they really care about him or if he's an animated stuffed toy for them.

I don't know if he sleeps outside as well but it hurts me to see him alone all the time.
posted by fenriq to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
Maybe sort of back into it. "Your dog is really cool. I'd like one just like him someday. Oh well, probably never happen. Hey, if you ever think you might need to find a new home for him for any reason, let me know!" No pressure, plants the seed.

I once got a neat cat that way. She came right back with, "You serious? She's yours."
posted by cairnish at 4:29 PM on February 15, 2005

I think you're definitely on the right track. Asking about a playdate is a great idea. Suss them out and in a week or two, politely tell them you would love to have the dog and would they possibly consider selling him.

Aww, a similar situation resulted in my family getting my childhood dog. These asshats across the street kept this adorable mutt puppy tied up on a four foot long leash at all times, and finally my mom couldn't stand it anymore. She said her kids loved the dog and offered them $20. We took her to the vet, got her all fixed up, and she lived a long and happy life.
posted by Specklet at 4:30 PM on February 15, 2005

I agree with the playdate idea, and with cairnish. Whatever you do, you do not want to imply that you'll "be a better home for the dog". Sure, it may be true, but that will only make your neighbor feel insulted and defensive. Don't mention anything at all about the way they've been keeping him. Make sure that your offer is carefully phrased so that it's all about the dog, not about the owners. They might not be willing to give him to you outright, but if they're truly neglectful, they'll probably be happy to swap him for some cash, and then everyone wins!
posted by vorfeed at 4:39 PM on February 15, 2005

My brother stole a clearly neglected cat. My dad made him take him back. They guy who answered the door said 'he's yours' - apparently he was a leftover from a messy divorce. We called him Rumpole (as in, of the Bailey).

I think your 'hey, I'm walking my dog anyway - does yours want to come along for the ride?' idea is a good one.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:16 PM on February 15, 2005

I say just approach the pet owner. My aunt did this very recently; she talked to the owner of a neglected dog in her neighborhood, very politely but honestly explaining why she wanted it and why it deserved to be with her, and at the end of her speech, the owner told her she could keep it.

Good luck!
posted by saladin at 6:49 PM on February 15, 2005

You might also add that your dog really seems to like their dog (whether it's true or not)and your dog is lonely, etc.

If worse comes to worse, you could file a neglect complaint if the dog's living condition doesn't meet the requirements in your area. There usually are requirements about providing shelter that meets certain regulations. This doesn't mean animal control take the dog though. However, the people might voluntarily surrender the dog and you could adopt him. Of course the owners might see you with the dog, and that could lead to problems.
posted by lobakgo at 6:58 PM on February 15, 2005

As specklet and lobakoo said, and cairnish nailed the closer. Emphasize your dog really needs a playmate and you'll look after their pooch while it's with you. Spend more time with the neglected dog if you can. Praise the neglected one (and yours as well) for playing well together and maybe the bad owners will take your example. The best thing that happens is that they give up their doggie to you.
'Course, look out for psycho reactions from them. Neglect of a dog is a bad personality trait and you should have no compunctions about reporting neglect. A good dog is faithful even to those who neglect it, up to a point.
posted by nj_subgenius at 7:34 PM on February 15, 2005

My aunt did this very recently; she talked to the owner of a neglected dog in her neighborhood, very politely but honestly explaining why she wanted it and why it deserved to be with her

I'm sorry, but I think saladin's advice is bad (and Miss Manners would back me up wholeheartedly on this). There is no way on earth to "politely" tell someone that you think they are neglecting their pet and should give it to you instead. The only polite way to handle this (and I think you're fabulous for caring enough to want to take the dog) is to trust your initial instinct and do as everyone aside from saladin has recommended.
posted by mediareport at 9:20 PM on February 15, 2005

In a slightly-similar incident where my brother lived with the people who owned a neglected dog, he was the only one who took care of the dog. When he moved out the apartment, he threatened to call the pound police on them if they didn't let him have the dog and they let him have it. Then again, my brother is someone I wouldn't push to test to back up his words so mileage my vary.
posted by jmd82 at 10:17 PM on February 15, 2005

There may also be a flip side to this. Maybe the dog is a destructive wreck in the home. Maybe he chews the furniture and steals food off the table. Maybe he pees on the carpet. Maybe he terrorizes a young child. None of this is grounds to let the poor thing sit outside all day, of course, but tread lightly: there is a chance the dog is still loved.

That said, if you slowly and gently integrate it into your routine, you can move toward adoption in stages. The walk/playtime thing is a great first step; after that, suggest you take the dog for a Saturday, so your pets can hang; then offer to take it when the neighbors go on vacation; then say that he's having so much fun, and you know they're busy/traveling/etc., you'd be happy to take him in full-time if they preferred. But be nice about it, because an unknown circumstance could get you an earful.

We have been through similar routines making dog-and-owner friends for (and through) our pooch. Slow and steady. Not to mention you need to build up the dog's trust in you, too.
posted by werty at 6:04 AM on February 16, 2005

I've got much the same question about a couple of kids in a nearby home. Sweet kids, horrible parents. But what can you do?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 AM on February 16, 2005

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