November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet month. Of course, adopting a senior pet is a great idea any time of year but I think it’s absolutely wonderful that senior animals get a special month and it helps raise awareness of the perks of welcoming an older dog or cat into your home. Though, thankfully, more people have been adopting older dogs, senior pets are still often the last to find a home, which increases the chances of them being euthanized. When you adopt a senior dog, you’re saving a life and giving them a second chance. I’ve personally found it life-changing and I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve had with my older fur babies for anything. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years from adopting senior dogs:
- Older dogs are in shelters for a variety of reasons. Don’t assume a senior dog is up for adoption because of temperament or behavioral problems. A senior dog can end up in a shelter for any number of reasons. Sometimes, it is because of situations outside of people's control, such as the death of an owner or illness. Other times, people make life choices that put their needs ahead of their senior dog, such as making room for a baby, a move, a new job or because the owner wasn’t prepared for this stage of their dog’s life. Many senior pooches lived in a home for years and had a family but for a variety of reasons, they’re now homeless or have been abandoned. It’s heartbreaking and confusing for a dog to suddenly be without the stability and love they once had and these dogs can make amazing companions. They certainly deserve a loving home.
- You’ll spend less time training your new pooch and more time having fun. As I said, the majority of senior dogs for adoption have lived in a home before, which means they’re house-trained and likely know basic commands. Training a puppy is time consuming. When you adopt a senior dog, there’s a good chance you can skip a lot of the training and jump right into playing, cuddling and enjoying each other’s company.
- There are products for older dogs that can make life easier for both of you! A fear people have about adopting a senior dog is that they’ll have health problems and their remaining years will be depressing and expensive. That’s not true! Of course, there are issues that can come along with aging like incontinence and mobility problems. However, they don’t have to stand in the way of a dog having a happy, healthy life. At Dog Quality, we make specialized assistance products for senior dogs that are designed to help improve their quality of life, including our Washable Wonders dog diapers and belly bands, our Dogger dog stroller and the new Gentle Rise bed ramp. With the right products, you can give your senior pet comfort and ease.
- Senior dogs can be great for senior humans, families with kids, first-time pet owners and, well, everyone. As a pet parent to senior dogs myself, I can attest to the fact that older dogs tend to be incredibly sweet. An older dog also has an established personality and temperament. You can gauge almost right away whether or not they’ll be a great fit for your family and lifestyle. Since they are no longer in the puppy phase, they’re less likely to chew things and destroy furniture, shoes or anything in their path. They’re often calmer and less energetic, making a lot of them really perfect for senior citizens or families with young kids. First-time pet owners may also benefit from adopting a senior dog because they can learn the ins and outs of being a pet parent without getting overwhelmed by a rambunctious pooch that needs extensive training, which, truthfully, takes dedication, patience and time.
- Don’t be surprised if you bond deeply. I’ve always found a dog’s golden years are filled with special moments and opportunities for bonding. When you adopt a senior dog, they’re grateful and they show their appreciation with their love and loyalty. They can also be hilarious and full of personality. At this stage in their life, they need you more and just want to be around you. It’s not uncommon to become inseparable and the relationship just continues to evolve for the better.
- You can teach an old dog new tricks. The misconception that an old dog is unable to learn new things is far from the truth. While their personality might be established, they’re just as smart as younger dogs and often have a better attention span. Many seniors want so badly to please you and teaching them new commands or tricks actually helps keep them sharp, stimulated and engaged. Any dog can respond to training as long as you’re persistent.
- It will change your perspective. People can be hesitant to adopt a senior dog because they think they won’t have a lot of time together and it’s just a recipe for heartache. Yet, it’s not just about the number of years but also about the quality of time you spend with one another, the memories you make and the love you share. There are no guarantees ever, whether you adopt a 12-week-old puppy or a 12-year-old dog. You will find, like I do, that the relationship is well worth it and you’ll feel fulfilled and honored to have been a part of your senior dog’s life no matter how much time you have with them. I guarantee when you build this incredible relationship with a senior and see the excitement and appreciation they have for the smallest things, it will change your perspective and life forever.
Consider opening your heart and home to an older dog and see the positive change it makes in both of your lives. You can find a senior population at most shelters or try some of these awesome organizations:
- Muttville Senior Dog Rescue (California, United States)
- SAINTS Rescue (British Columbia, Canada)
- City of Elderly Love Rescue (Pennsylvania, United States)
- Old Dog Haven (Washington, United States)
- Young at Heart (Illinois, United States)
- Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary (Arizona, United States)
- ARTS Senior Animal Rescue (Alberta, Canada)
- Susie’s Senior Dogs (doesn’t directly handle adoptions but posts senior dogs in need of homes from rescues and shelters)
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