about everyone who enters a shelter is looking for a puppy or a young dog
(three years or under). There are also many people who go to breeders to
buy puppies. By adopting an older dog, we can make a statement about compassion
and the value of all life at all ages. And, of course, just as a puppy
has his whole life ahead of him, so does an older dog have the rest of
his life in front of him. You can give that older dog the best years of
his life while at the same time bringing a wonderful addition into your
family. By setting the example of adopting a dog that would be otherwise
euthanized just because of his age, you can help create the climate that
will enable the humane treatment of all animals.
Older dogs lose their homes for many different reasons.... most of them having
nothing to do with problems the dog has, but rather with those of the person
surrendering the dog. Many folks think dogs who end up at shelters or in rescue
are all genetically and behaviorally inferior. But, it is not uncommon for
very expensive, well-bred dogs to outlive their usefulness or novelty with
folks who bought them on impulse and no longer want to take responsibility
Other reasons older dogs become homeless: death of a guardian.... not enough
time for the dog... change in work schedule... new baby...need to move to a
place where dogs are not allowed.... kids going off to college.... allergies....
change in "lifestyle".... prospective spouse doesn't like dogs.
Frequently, older dogs adapt quicker to your living environment and rules than
puppies. Older dogs who are offered for adoption by shelters or rescue agencies
generally have had some training, both in obedience and house manners. (Some
dogs, due to the confusion and upset of being uprooted and finding themselves
in a chaotic shelter environment, may temporarily forget their housetraining.
Inevitably, once established in their new home, they remember.) Older dogs
have learned what "no" means and how to leave the furniture, carpets,
shoes, and other "chewables" alone. (If they hadn't learned that,
they wouldn't have gotten to be "older" dogs.) They have been "socialized" and
learned what it takes to be part of a "pack" and to get along with
humans and, in most cases, other dogs, and in some other cases, cats, as well.
Dogs can be trained at any age. The old adage, "You can't teach an old
dog new tricks," just isn't true.
Older dogs, especially those who have once known it, appreciate love and attention
and quickly learn what's expected of them to gain and keep that love and attention.
Older dogs know how to let you finish the newspaper, sitting calmly next to you,
while your workday stress flows away and your blood pressure lowers. They are
also instant companions, ready for hiking, riding in the car, walking on leash,
Also, older dogs are a "known commodity." They are easy to assess for
behavior and temperament, and you also don't have to guess at how big they'll
Often times people are concerned about adopting an older dog for health reasons.
With a health assessment of the dog, you will know whether any age-related conditions
are present and you can take appropriate measures to address them. Otherwise,
older dogs need all the things younger dogs do -- good nutrition, exercise (although
less intensive, usually, than for a younger dog), and regular visits to the vet.
Veterinary attention and medication are needed at all ages and may or may not
be more costly for an older dog. Before you adopt a senior, be sure you get a
health report from a veterinarian. That way, if you discover that the dog has
a health problem, you can decide if you are able to make the needed financial
Senior dogs can make a wonderful companion for many people. Senior people often
find senior dogs to be a great match. A calm, slower paced dog fits their lifestyle.
While puppy energy and cuteness make them appear more adoptable, older dogs make
a better adoption choice in many cases. Puppies require a lot of attention, training,
and exercise. For many people a well-trained, well-adjusted, senior dog is much
more practical. Giving a home to a senior dog can bring you and a deserving dog
This article has been adapted from the Senior Dogs Project web site. For more
information on Senior Dogs visit them at - http://www.srdogs.com.