Senior Dogs

Senior Dogs

Feb 25, 2018, 11:59 AM |

This blog was originally published in January, 2017. I am releasing it again now in honor of my dog, who my wife and I rescued when he was 8. We just lost him at the age of 14. We couldn't have asked for a better dog!



It’s January! The first month of the New Year, a time to start fresh, make resolutions and think about what to serve at your Super Bowl party. It’s also when many a humane society becomes the home for puppies that were given as cute and fuzzy Christmas gifts. Once the cuddly novelty of a new puppy wears off and the chewing of shoes, furniture and books (not books!) begins; when the cleaning up of indoor accidents and the constant training to “sit” begin to get on their nerves, many people throw up their hands, say “Enough!” and take their Rockwellian Christmas present to the pound.

Easy fix for the human, not so much for the dog.     

But dogs do make great companions. After all, there are plenty of dogs living comfortably in a home near you right now. Some of them might even be too comfortable. If you’ve ever ventured out your front door you probably know how obsessive people can be about their dogs. The number of YouTube videos and facebook memes dedicated to pets performing adorable - or deplorable - acts of anthropomorphic shenanigans are testaments to our love of our best friends, or at least how they entertain us.

Of course studies have been conducted to determine how dogs benefit our lives beyond sheer entertainment value. They make us healthier by getting us to exercise through daily walks and play, they give us meaning by giving us something to look forward to when we get home after work, they make us feel good about ourselves through their loyalty and complete carefree attitude of our social status, wealth or number of likes we receive on our facebook post about that wonderful lunch we ate today. The list of benefits goes on and as a dog owner, I can testify to the truth of these findings and more.

What does all of this have to do with puppies being taken to the pound? Many people get a puppy as an addition to their family and imagine the ball throwing, the loyalty, the reading by the fire with the dog at your feet moments and all of the cute pictures/videos and memories they’ll get. And that’s fine, but they forget puppies are babies; they need training, care, supervision and above all, commitment.

Which brings me to my point. If you want a dog in your family, first of all, please adopt, don’t buy. Secondly, when you do adopt, consider a senior dog. When you adopt a senior dog you’re saving their life. No kidding. Most people, when they decide to adopt a dog, look for a puppy or an animal up to around a year old. This translates to older dogs being passed up and in many cases, being euthanized after being in a shelter for a predetermined amount of time.

Okay, let’s lighten the mood a little. What other considerations are there in adopting a senior dog? All that frustrating stuff about why puppies get taken back to a shelter after Christmas? It’s pretty much non-existent with an older dog (although the commitment is still necessary!). My wife and I adopted our dog when he was 8 years old. He was already housebroken and knew the basics like “sit” and “stay.” After only a day or two he was comfortable in the house, never chewed anything that wasn’t his, respected boundaries, listened to commands, and was overjoyed when we went for walks or threw a ball. Three years later he’s as loving as ever and still wants to (constantly) play ball and go for walks.

My theory? Older dogs know you’re doing something for them, they know you rescued them from that little square cage. They’re pack animals so when you adopt them, you’re accepting them into your family, your pack, and that’s a big deal. Our dog pays us back every day by being happy and excited to see us come home from work, making sure we get some exercise by walking him and throwing the ball and snuggling up to us with open affection – wait, that all does benefit us right? Yes, of course it does.

I make no assertions to being an expert in anything canine; I’m just speaking from personal experience and belief. I am certainly not against puppies, but if you’re thinking about bringing a dog into your family, please consider an older dog. You’ll be glad you did, and so will they!  


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