by Taylor DuVall
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but maybe old dogs have a few tricks they can teach us. With their greying noses and calm demeanors, senior dogs show us that loyal love is one of the most beautiful things on this planet – no matter the number of years you have left to feel it.
Time and time again, people choose puppies. Those adorable bundles of joy with tiny, clumsy bodies look up at us with baby eyes, and we are sold. Then there is the exhausting puppy phase: a solid year (or two or three!) of potty training, behavioral training, and creative methods to wear out their boundless energy.
Then, miraculously, those puppies finally turn into adult dogs: well-behaved, polite, calm, fully-grown pets and best friends. Yet for some reason, few people opt to adopt animals that have already reached this level of doggy perfection.
Petfinder created the “Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week” to bring awareness that all pets deserve a forever home. There are many categories that can hurt a dog’s chance of adoption; Petfinder concentrates on black pets, pit bulls, pets with special needs, and, you guessed it, older dogs.
In fact, Petfinder surveyed hundreds of rescue organizations across the country and asked them which pets have the hardest time finding homes. Topping the list at 28% were senior dogs.
According to the Senior Dog Project, “a dog in a shelter can be as young as five and still have trouble finding a new home… Technically speaking, many of these dogs aren’t ‘seniors’ in the veterinary sense of the term, but to many prospective adopters they are already ‘over the hill.’” Of course, that isn’t true. Dogs, when well cared for and given appropriate exercise, can remain happy, active, playful, and puppy-like well into their senior years.
People often adopt puppies first because they are worried about potential “baggage” an older dog may bring into the home. Did she have a violent past? Was he properly potty trained? But adopting an older dog, or even a senior dog, can be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
Adopting An Older Dog Will Bring You Happiness
Older Dogs Often Come Pre-Trained
With old age comes wisdom and knowledge – for humans and dogs alike. You are more likely to find a dog who already knows how to “stay” and where to go potty. Also keep in mind that older dogs can definitely still learn new tricks. Even an old pooch can learn new commands and habits.
Older Dogs Have Already Taken A Chill Pill
Sure, there is something exciting about the frenzy of puppy life, but there is also something constant and reassuring about an older dog who understands that life is all about balance.
Older Dogs Respect Your Home
A puppy’s incessant need to chew is often one of the most frustrating aspects of raising a puppy. One of the benefits of adopting an older dog is peace of mind, knowing your shoes and couches will remain puppy-teeth-free.
Older Dogs Become Your BFF
An older dog will become your loyal companion quickly. They have mellowed out enough to realize, receive, and offer back love in a special way. As Sydney Jeanne Seward said, “Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.”
Older Dogs Allow You To Get Your ZZZs.
Puppies are just like kids – they need love, snacks, and potty breaks in the middle of the night. Older dogs are like adults – they value a good night’s sleep. Both you and your older pet will sleep through the night peacefully.
Adopting An Older Dog Will Bring The Dog Happiness
Older Dogs Need To Be Saved
Older dogs have often been abandoned by their families and sent to shelters. While some find homes, too many are euthanized in kill shelters. By bringing an older dog into your home, you have the chance to save a life.
Older Dogs Want Forever Homes… Even If Forever Comes Sooner
No matter what has happened in the years prior – good or bad, older dogs want to spend the rest of their forever in a loving, caring home. They want to be a member of a family. Whether their life has 10 more bounding years or 10 precious months, older dogs believe in “home sweet home”, too.
Meet Maggie, The Golden Retriever
Sometimes stories are more convincing than theories. In the case of adopting an older dog, facts and figures may not speak as loudly as a real life example. Let us introduce you to Maggie.
Maggie is an adorable golden retriever, and she’s not a puppy anymore! Maggie grew up in a loving household with two little kids. She also happens to have a seizure disorder induced by stress. When Maggie was six, her human parents went through a complicated divorce. The stresses of the divorce mixed with the rowdiness of two growing kids worsened Maggie’s seizures.
To help Maggie cope with the daily stress, her owners started letting her visit a young couple on the weekends. Eventually, they realized that Maggie was thriving in the peace and quiet. She was being spoiled with all the walks and attention a childfree couple could more easily bestow. So her owners allowed the young couple to adopt Maggie.
Maggie’s new mom said of the experience, “I’ve had a new puppy, and while that’s exciting and fun to watch them grow, the training part is a lot of work. Maggie was a wonderful dog, who came into our lives fully trained.”
Maggie’s new quiet home matched her temperament beautifully, and her seizures almost disappeared. Maggie is a big fan of Milk Bone biscuits and having her head rubbed. And she’s proof to the world that adopting an older dog can truly save lives.
Every dog deserves a forever home at every stage of his or her life.