Regardless of age, all dogs deserving a loving home. Many of us; however, think only of puppies or young dogs when we consider adding a pet to our family. While it is impossible to resist the charms of a fuzzy, wiggly little puppy, older dogs add just as much joy to your life. One look into the eyes of a senior dog that you have saved from the noise and chaos of a shelter will tell you everything you need to know – you are their hero, and have earned their devotion.
A dog is considered to be senior after age seven, but for many breeds they still have many years yet to live and be loved. While it is true that older pets may bring with them age-related health concerns, and they may not be with you as long as a young dog might be, adopting an older dog also has advantages.
- Older dogs have already reached their full adult size, thus eliminating the question of how big they will get. It is also easier to more accurately assess temperament in an older dog.
- Senior dogs have likely already lived within a household and thus are house-trained and know basic manners (note: many shelter dogs of all ages may temporarily slip-up on house-training when first adopted due to the stress of shelter life and the re-homing process, but they will quickly get the hang of it again once they settle into a new routine in your home).
- Senior dogs are less hyper, and require less stimulation and exercise than a puppy. While most still want and require daily exercise, they are more content to cuddle and just spend time with you than their younger counterparts.
- Senior dogs at shelters need a home as much as younger dogs, and, by adopting them, you are most likely saving its life as seniors are among the first to be destroyed.
- A senior dog may be a good choice for busy people or families with young children since they are less likely to require the constant monitoring and time-consuming training required by puppies.
- If you happen to be a senior yourself, or know a senior-aged human who would benefit from having a dog, there are many shelters and rescue organizations that have “seniors for seniors” programs. These programs match senior people with senior dogs, often for greatly discounted adoption fees. Senior dogs who have reduced exercise needs and who would benefit from a calm home environment are often the perfect match for senior-aged people.
When you are weighing the pros and cons of a young dog versus a senior, please keep in mind that there are no guarantees with any new member of your family. While you don’t know what health problems may arise, or how long an older dog will be with you, the same unknowns exist when adopting a puppy.
My little Casper was already a senior when I adopted him. The shelter estimated his age to be about 9 years. I was advised of his health history, and was informed that some issues may require further action by me. Despite any potential challenges, his adoption was a wonderful decision on my part, and nothing short of a blessing. This poor little soul had some very hard times before joining my family. He looks at me with trust and adoration and my heart just melts. He has also been a wonderful companion for my other beautiful little dog, and I can’t imagine a more perfect situation.
Please consider becoming a hero to the sweet old soul with the grey muzzle waiting behind the kennel door. You’ll never regret the choice.