By Deb Young
Just as our senior citizens are sometimes disregarded or brushed aside, so too are senior pets.
Older dogs are the least likely to get adopted, but are usually the best to take home.
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 or family 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, well-trained dogs to outlive their usefulness or novelty with folks who bought them on impulse and no longer want to take responsibility for them.
Veterinarians say that dogs start to fall into the category of “senior” around the age of 7. However, it depends on size. The smaller the dog, the later in life the dog becomes a senior. Nonetheless, a dog in a shelter can be as young as 5 and still have trouble finding a new home.
Many people automatically think of a puppy when they think of adopting a dog. Puppies are warm and cuddly, and everyone wants to hold and pet them. But puppies demand patience and energy to help them become wonderful family members. Older dogs, however, can be as cute and lovable as puppies, and they often come with many wonderful qualities that puppies take years to grow into.
Five million dogs are killed yearly in U.S. shelters and it is the older generation that goes first. Here are five reasons why to think about adopting an older dog:
1. Older dogs are wiser and calmer. They will more than likely to bond with you on a mature level.
2. Senior pets tend to appreciate the love and care of their owner and the fact that they have been given a second chance of happiness. Older pets in a shelter may suffer from depression because dogs go through a mourning process just like humans do. When a pet is abandoned they form a deeper bond with their new owner, they are more dedicated to making the home happy because they fear being abandoned again. This is your chance to give them joy, and to get that joy back tenfold.
3. Although older dogs may have health problems they do not generally require as much attention and care from you as they start to wind down in their old age. A shorter walk in the woods becomes more preferred than a two hour jog around the fields.
4. Older dogs are often trained to follow commands and are usually toilet trained.
5. Older dogs are easy to assess for behavior and temperament.
Maybe you are reluctant to adopt a senior dog because you fear that your time with your new best friend will be short, bringing that painful time of loss closer. But the privilege of loving a senior dog makes every single day special, as you and your companion share love, friendship, and a special relationship that grows stronger with the knowledge that you have given this fine old dog a second chance at life. The love that grows from this knowledge is stronger than the pain of eventual separation.
While you weigh the risks and benefits of adopting an animal, take a moment to ponder the power of adopting an older pet. If you have the opportunity and resources to enhance the rest of an older pets’ life, embrace it with both arms.
We all deserve to live out the last years of our lives with dignity, love and respect. Give a senior dog a second chance at life and you’ll find the experience will change your life.