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Why I Don’t Believe In Trying to Adopt Out “Bonded Pairs”

Isn't it better to break up these so-called pairs to improve their chances of adoption? Dogs are resilient creatures who can form new bonds.

Lisa Seger  |  Oct 10th 2016


I have been fostering dogs for five years now and have worked with a number of organizations that rescue and place homeless pets. Because of this, I see more pleas for homeless dogs in my Facebook feed than I am guessing the average person does in theirs. I once claimed it was 10 dogs a day — but really, I see more like 30 a day now. Often more.

The pleas vary, but one I see a lot, and that really drives me nuts, is a urgent request for someone to adopt a “bonded pair.” These are dogs who have been together for anywhere from a few months to several years. Sometimes they are siblings, sometimes just “co-dogs.” Usually these pleas arise when an owner dies, goes into assisted living, or otherwise is forced into a situation where they can no longer have dogs. And so the ask goes out on Facebook, “Please — won’t someone adopt these two together? They really need to stay together.”

Let’s start with the obvious. Almost no one is in the market to adopt two adult dogs at once. With the hundreds of thousands of homeless pets out there, my experience is that it is hard enough to place single pets. So many people are “at capacity” as it is or are, for other reasons, not in a place to adopt two dogs. Few hardcore dog people have room for even one more, let alone two. Most already have two or three or more.

Two black Labrador Retrievers by Shutterstock.

Two black Labrador Retrievers by Shutterstock.

Even more “mainstream” dog people are rarely looking to turn their single-dog household into a three-dog one. It’s just not how most people operate. Put short: It is an ask that is unlikely to go fulfilled. Often these so-called “bonded pairs” end up at a shelter, where they literally have no one else.

You might notice I said “so-called,” and maybe you wonder why. Well, here it is: After fostering and placing over 50 dogs, I have seen that one of the most magnificent things about dogs is their ability to form new bonds and find happiness at any age. From puppies to 10-year-olds, the dogs we have fostered have easily fit into our home, bonded at some level with my own dogs and always formed a close bond with me. Then, guess what? When I place them, they form a bond with their new owner. Every time. Because they are dogs. And that’s what dogs do. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t all be fostering/adopting them.

Do dogs make friends? And even best friends? Yeah. They do. Do they mourn when they lose their best friend? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But do they get over it and adapt to a new life and form new bonds? In my experience? Every single time.

We humans have a really bad tendency to project our own fears and insecurities on our dogs. And in the case of assuming they can’t start new, happy lives with new people and/or new pack members, I think we do them a great disservice. Would it be better or worse, do you think, for a pair of BFF dogs to go into separate new homes or into a shelter together? I will opt for a loving home every single time.