Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why Adopt an Older Dog?

Our Otto is 10 and so is considered a "senior". He ignores all comments on his graying muzzle and his rests after an all out race with squirrels. Pffewww! He still acts like a pup in many ways...just in shorter spurts, with longer rests!

If he were tragically to find himself without us, his human family, would he have a chance to live out his life?

Why would anyone want to adopt an older dog?

I asked this question recently online and found that lots of folks think older dogs are just dandy!

Sarah tells me that she wouldn't change a thing about adopting her two older dogs. "I would never adopt a puppy and have to go through the whole training thing again. Being an older dog, they seem to bond quicker with you and are more timid."

Christine fosters seniors. She says, "I usually rescue the older labs on their "last day". I do not sleep at night after people, most of whom I do not even know, email me pics of senior dogs that need my help. It's the most rewarding experience!" She adopted one out to a woman who had a deposit on a lab puppy and then changed her mind and took a senior from Christine. She was 40 lbs overweight at the time and Christine helped her take off the extra weight, no doubt buying her extra time to love her new family to death!

Melissa found Punkie on Craigslist 5 years ago...when she was 10 when her "old family" developed allergies and had to move. take her or not? "We met her, she had already been trained was used to other dogs and had tons of spunk."

Ease in training seems to be a real plus, and I was surprised to learn that vet bills with the seniors was not an issue. It seems that when they get up in years, they are a healthy bunch by nature. Our late Gussie was a case in point! Until the week before her death at 16 and a half, she was the picture of health!

And they are grateful and just seem to seamlessly fit into their new homes, often with other dogs. Don't seem to need to prove anything about their pack status, etc.

Older dogs go with the flow more, aren't so insistent on a walk when you feel like lounging, are through with teething and other destructive behavior, know at least some commands.

But if they are so great, why are they available? A LOT of them came from loving homes and simply outlived their humans. Or the "new husband" doesn't like dogs, or a new job with travel came up or the new baby is allergic.

And unlike puppies, their personality, how big they'll get, what breed they really are, are known.

And those that weren't loved, can really blossom! An old dog CAN and WILL learn new tricks! Here's a particularly heartwarming story about an older pooch!

So if you have a little more room in your home...consider a senior!

I'm Robin Zebley, animal lover and American Animal Artist. My website is If you'd like to read my whole blog, just click on the banner at the top. If you'd like updates, click on "following this blog" to your right. If you're a vet, groomer or any other dog lover who'd like to print this page for your waiting room or copy for your website, please do! I'd ask that you just leave my contact info on and enjoy! Robin


Jennifer Rose said...

we when can afford to adopt a dog we don't care if its an older dog or a puppy. it would be what ever dog we clicked with at the centre. the only requirement we have is that the dog is not dog aggressive. with so many other dogs in the area and many of them not leashed :/ it would be almost impossible to help the dog get over the aggression. any other problems just take time.

people have asked me how i could adopt a dog that might only live a few years. I say while we had the dog we would make it the best few years we could. puppies are not everything.

Robin said...

So true, Jen! And there's no guarantee of years anyway. So many puppy mill pups have a dismal survival rate... You'll also KNOW if it is dog aggressive prone, gets along with cats, kids, etc.

twincedar said...

We adopted our dog from the humane society. She wasn't older really, just 2 years old but had some problems due to abuse. She had been adopted before but the family could not deal with the problems and sent her back. She has been a wonderful pet, came to us housebroken which was a huge plus and we have had her almost 7 years now.

Robin said...

Great story Lori. I know there's a special place in heaven for folks who have the patience to love a "bad" dog and teach her how to fit in!

Anonymous said...

Great story!! I'm a permanent foster a 14 year old gal and while she sleeps quite a bit, she's got some good bursts of energy and a lot of love! What you say about them not being as insistent on things is so true. She's pretty laid back in schedule and already house trained to boot. All she's looking for is a soft bed or lap and some love. Not sure how long she'll be with me, but I'm definitely enjoying the time we have together!

Robin said...

Anonymous, thanks so much for telling us about her! How lucky she is to have you!