We have all heard the phrase “adopt-don’t-shop,” and while we at Really Good Pets are not going to tell you how or where to get your next pooch, we just thought we’d take a moment to put a spotlight on a group of dogs that often get overlooked: seniors.
Senior dogs wind up in rescues or in shelters for a whole host of reasons: their owners are ill or have passed on, the family may have been required to relocate to an area where dogs are not allowed, or the family simply does not have the resources to care for the dog. Occasionally older dogs are taken into shelters and traded in for a much younger dog, but fortunately the ASPCA reports that this does not happen as often as we may think.
Quite often a surrendered senior dog is in perfectly fine health with no deal-breaking behavioral issues. Yet they only account for a small percentage of adoptions from shelters. There are often some unfair myths or simply incorrect stereotypes about older dogs that make people bypass them in favor of a pup or younger dog. While every dog will have his or her own issues, let’s consider some of the positive reasons to adopt a senior dog.
- They have their act together. They’re grown ups. They’ve been trained. They know to pee outdoors. They will often know basic commands like “sit” or “stay,” which, trust me, will come in very handy when you least expect it. They may even know a few tricks, making them great party guests or even hosts. They may have a few grey hairs but they will be much more charming for your guests than a puppy who looks at every person as a living, breathing jungle gym-chew toy combo.
- No puppy bites or adolescent phase to deal with. We all want to play with a puppy, until the biting gets to be painful. Puppy teeth are no joke. Those little razors will leave imprints on your hand, and they are much more than love bites – these things can hurt. But it’s all fine – those teeth will fall out during months five or six, sometimes on carpets where your bare feet will step on them. That’s not even to mention the blood that might be left on an item chewed – an item that may not have been meant as a chew toy. Puppies chew stuff – lots and lots of stuff. Your shoes, your socks, your hats, your books, your money…the list can go on for a long time. And when you think that you have safely stored an item out of reach, the puppy gets bigger and can now stretch to the back of the counter! When he stops being a puppy, he will enter the rebellious adolescent phase. He’ll just stare at you when you tell him to come over. He’ll defy you and pee on your exercise bike right in front of you. You pull your hair out wondering, What happened to my puppy? How long is this obnoxious behavior going to last? A senior has been through this stage. What you see is what you get. No defiance, no growth spurts, no random chewing. You may still end up with a counter-surfer, but hopefully you’ll know to put everything tasty well out of the way.
- Senior dogs can still be fun. Fun is not limited to puppies or adolescents. Older dogs can still be complete goofballs. They’ll still want to run after squirrels or fetch a tennis ball. They’ll still jump and wiggle when you come home from work. They may present you with a stuffed animal for a game of tug-of-war which they will play with gusto. And of course you can still go for long walks. Their Iditerod days may be behind them, and you may have to offer a joint supplement to keep them limber, but you will have plenty of good times ahead.
- Senior dogs appreciate your love. These dogs have seen some stuff, good and bad. They know what’s real. And your love and care is definitely real. They’ll reciprocate with a head resting on your lap or a cozy snuggle during nap-time. Feeling them against you breathing easy without tension or worry can bring you contentment, if not full-on heart-bursting joy.
Senior dogs may require a little extra care eventually and a few products to help them age gracefully. However, you will still experience the devotion that every dog owner knows. Getting a new best friend who is seasoned and loyal may be the best decision you ever make.