In Praise of Adopting Older Dogs.
I want another dog! Not instead of my little Ringo, I mean in addition to him. To be honest, I don’t know when this will happen, I just know that one day it will. And like any happy daydream, I think about it deeply, and often.
I’d thought a lot about the dog I wanted before I found Ringo, not yet a year old, online in a rescue ad. I was immediately drawn to him, even if he was quite different from what I’d had in mind (and isn’t the love of your life always a little different from what you’d imagined?). He wasn’t at all the fluffy, friendly little Norwich Terrier I’d pictured (I was incredibly fixated on those little Ewoks); instead, he’s a sleek, long, black-and-tan thing that sheds like crazy and regards strangers with skepticism, if not downright suspicion. But he is my best little friend, and I wouldn’t trade him for any other dog in the world. It’s the experience of our finding each other that has taught me the beauty of staying open-minded when seeking a pet, as with anything.
A couple of years ago, my sister adopted a neglected, overweight, unhealthy 10-year-old German Shepherd. She was found tied with a rope to the back of an abandoned car. As I’m fairly new to the dog owning world, and I hadn’t yet adopted Ringo at that time, I only viewed the experience in poignant terms. At worst, Bella had a few short years left. At best, Bella had a few short years left. Remember, I wasn’t familiar with the total joy of having a dog at that time. I just saw a hundred pounds of grim mortality.
Two years later, Bella is as content to be in my sister’s care as my sister is to have her. They walk everywhere; Bella comes to work with her. Bella is markedly healthier and trimmer now, and kind and gentle to all she meets. There is a universal beauty to this; of living a new and happy life while experiencing its second half. To participate in giving this joy to a dog is a true example of loving an animal.
So, when the time comes I will truly consider adopting an older dog. There are dogs of every age who need homes, and as dog lovers, we need to embrace the merits of the seniors among the canine homeless just as we recognize the cuteness and energy of their puppy brethren.
A few of the known advantages of adopting an older dog are:
- A likelihood of having some house/behavioral training
- A likelihood of prior socialization
- Temperament is more predictable than in a puppy
- Lesser chance of indiscriminate chewing
- Greater chance of a calmer household (if that’s what you want)
Maybe some of you Packpeople out there have your own thoughts and experiences to share on the subject. We here at the home offices urge you all to spread the word of the positive experiences you’ve had in this area, so that more people are aware of the joys and benefits of adopting a canine who’s already seen a few years. If any of you have experience in adopting a retired service dog, we’d enjoy hearing your comments on that as well.
We all need love, no matter how old we are… and the best way to get it is to give it!