I was in a similar situation to yours a few years ago. A former coworker put the word out to the office that there was an elderly female golden retriever who needed to be re-homed, urgently. She belonged to a couple that was in the middle of a messy divorce. My husband and I had been talking about adopting a senior dog. We had two senior cats at the time, and liked the idea of opening our home to more senior animals who might get overlooked at shelters.
Long story short, the rescue organization was incredibly dishonest about the dog. I think they were desperate to find her a home and were basically telling me all the things I wanted to hear. I was very clear with them that, since my husband and I both worked full time, we were open to adopting a senior, quiet dog who was verrrry comfortable being home in the peace and quiet for most of the day. We certainly did not feel like we were in a position to adopt a dog that would need constant companionship, or a puppy who would need more hours of attention during the day. The shelter assured me that this dog was just looking for a “quiet landing spot” and actually preferred being left alone during the daytime hours to nap.
Well, the only things they got right were her age and her breed. Beyond that, she was severely overweight (which made her hard to handle on leash), completely untrained, barely housebroken, high-energy, and full of deeply rooted anxiety issues because her former family had essentially emotionally neglected her for years. I felt terrible for her, but my husband and I were not in a position to give her the type of home that she needed, and we were clear with the rescue organization about that before we even met the dog. It was only when we met her at her foster home that the foster told us about all the issues. Her exact words were, “Wow, you’re going to have your hands full.”
At the time, I believed that I owed it to the dog to keep her simply because we had already agreed to it. We had her for 3 weeks before it became too much, and it wasn’t just about the burden on us (although that was a factor) – her anxiety was rapidly worsening because of my husband’s and my full-time jobs. She began to get more and more aggressive in the mornings when she figured out that we were getting ready to leave. I called the organization for advice, and they told me I should crate her during the day (which I HATED doing, but she was starting to destroy home furnishings in our absence). One day, I walked over to her so that I could guide her to her crate, and she snapped at me. That’s when I called the rescue organization to tell them it wasn’t going to work out.
I agreed to help them find another foster so that she wouldn’t go into a shelter, and she ended up going back to the foster home where we picked her up. That foster was home full-time, was an expert when it came to training and remedying behavioral issues, and had another golden who got along well with the dog. It was undoubtedly the right decision, because a few short weeks later, I had a major family tragedy and had to leave town for a month. It would have made things even harder for that dog, had she stayed with us.
Unlike many posters, I believe humans come first, then animals. That might make me wildly unpopular here, but that’s my value system. I’m sharing this story with you because I no longer believe that you are obligated to ride out a potentially dangerous adoption situation, especially since it sounds like you were misinformed by the shelter. Your dog might be much better off in a home where he’s not in the presence of smaller animals, children, the elderly, or cats. Another foster with extensive training experience can help the dog and prepare him for a permanent home later. You need to consider your quality of life as well as his.
I think your idea of fostering until a more suitable arrangement is made is a very wise one. Like you, I’d never want to see a pet go to a shelter if a home can be found, even if it’s a temporary one.
Best of luck – I hope it all works out.