It's a new phrase that is being used all over the internet and social media: rehoming. It's becoming a sore spot with me, and I will explain why in this post. The more spiritual work I do, and the more sessions I have with animals, the more touchy I am on the subject. "Rehoming" in many cases really means "giving away", "changing my mind", and"not willing to put in the work". It can also mean " a tragedy has struck and this animal deserves better", or " we are rescuing this animal and need to find a good home". Unfortunately, what you see on social media, unless posted by a rescue group, is the former.
I am guilty of rehoming when I was in my late 20's. I was naive, in a bad marriage, a new mother, exhausted, and therefore easily manipulated into giving my two dogs away. One turned out really well, while the other had a miserable and tragic life (I found out years later). I have not fully forgiven myself for either. I failed them both. It is because of my own failing, that I can speak on this now without judgment, but in hopes to educate and help people understand that in most situations, "rehoming" is cruel.
As human beings, we have created rules and situations for animals that are not their natural, instinctual existence. They adjust and accept their situation because they have little choice. They form bonds with their human family since they have been taken away from their real family. These bonds are strong and the animals love their humans, unconditionally. When humans decide to rehome, it is devastating to the animal. They are confused, scared, lose trust, and their fate is unsure. Think of all the feelings you would experience if you were thrown out of your home, and that is what the animals feel.
The animals that are rescued from bad situations react differently. They still have a lot of fear and uncertainty, trust issues, and health issues to deal with, but they adjust to a safer and more loving environment. In time, with the right person ( family), they can heal and live a great life. In this post, I am not speaking of those situations. I am speaking of the situations where people break up and no longer want the animal, or they have a baby and no longer want to deal with an animal, or have to move or come upon hard times. While all these reasons appear legitimate, they are not. An animal companion is a family member. Would you "rehome" a child because you had to move? If you fell upon hard times, would you get rid of your child?
Before you say "but humans are animals are different", let me interrupt. We are different. We are different species. But, both feel, think, form attachments, love, protect, and rely on caretakers and a family unit for survival. Humans have created this life of animals being reliant on us, and because of that, we have an obligation to them to fulfill that promise of a good life, no matter what.
There are more and more places that accept pets, so moving is not a reason to give one up. You just have to look harder. Your job changed and you don't have as much time? Hire a dog walker or sitter, or enroll your pet in a daycare. Your new partner doesn't like your companion? That says a lot about that person. You are afraid because you just had a baby? That is just superstitious. With time your companion and child will be best friends. Your spouse died and you don't want to keep the animal? They are already dealing with a loss and now you are making it worse by discarding them. How would your spouse feel knowing you gave away their beloved companion?
There are a million different scenarios where rehoming may enter the equation. Some are selfish, some done out of fear, some done out of desperation. The thing is this: animals are a life. When you get one you need to think of every possible scenario and really decide if you are in it for thier entire life. Do not get an animal on a whim. They are not a toy to be gifted. If you do gift an animal, be prepared to take them into your home if something goes wrong or changes. The point is to think carefully about taking in an animal, more carefully even than buying a house, because a house is a possession, but an animal is a part of your family. If are not certain if you can be a "pet owner", get involved with a shelter and volunteer. Spend time with friends who have animals. Research. Think carefully.
If you are still finding yourself in that difficult position of rehoming, please do not post on social media and give your companion away. Contact a local rescue organization or no-kill shelter. Many animals end up used as bait dogs, for science research, or bred mercilessly. A rescue group or shelter is experienced in properly vetting people and matching them to the right animal. You owe them that.