No one wants to get attached to a dog just to have to say “good-bye” after a few short months or years. That’s the primary reason most senior dogs get overlooked at shelters. And yet there are so many benefits of adopting an older dog.
Past the Puppy Stage
First of all, you don’t have to go through the puppy stuff – housebreaking, chewing on everything that isn’t tied down (and even some things that are) socializing, training, etc. Most senior dogs have already gone through all that and are just wanting a family to share the rest of their lives with.
What You See Is What You Get
Secondly, when you adopt an older dog you don’t have to guess at how big it will get, how long its hair will be, how much it will weigh as an adult. A lot of times someone will adopt a puppy like a shih-tzu that is so adorably cute as a puppy.
They don’t realize that when it’s full grown it will need monthly haircuts or at the very least daily brushing and combing. Otherwise, the hair will get so matted it will hurt the dog and he’ll have to be shaved down.
Another benefit of adopting a senior dog is that they don’t usually demand as much time and exercise as a younger dog. They’re happy to just hang out on the sofa (or dog bed) while you read a book or work at your computer.
They aren’t bouncing off the walls in an attempt to get your attention so you can go for a walk or throw the ball a thousand times. They’re just happy to be in your presence.
And when it’s time to go for a walk, they don’t have to go 5 miles to get worn out. A nice stroll around the block is sometimes enough, especially if the dog comes with arthritic joints. Fortunately, there is help for older dogs with arthritis.
Senior citizens benefit greatly by having a pet around the house, especially someone who’s lost a husband or wife. Having that happy furry friend around with all that unconditional love is sometimes what gives seniors a reason to live.
But understandably some seniors don’t want to take on the chore or responsibility of a puppy, knowing the young dog could possibly outlive them, especially a small dog with a life span of up to 20 years. So placing a senior dog with a senior citizen only makes sense.
It’s Just Plain Rewarding
Also, it’s very rewarding to take in a dog you know others have passed over and give him or her a loving home for however much time is left. I understand how difficult it can be knowing the senior dog you adopt might only live another year or two.
I remember the first dog I had that was my soul mate at the time. A German Shepherd named Venus. I truly believe she saved my life twice but that’s another story. Anyway, when she developed bone cancer at the age of 7 and I lost her to cancer a few months later, I cried for 3 days straight. I didn’t think I would ever get through it. But I did. The tears gradually became less and less and the darkness surrounding my heart became a little lighter.
I knew then that no matter how much I love any dog that comes into my life, I can live through the grief of losing them. I don’t have to spend the rest of my life without a dog because I don’t think I can live through the pain. I know I can. Anyone can. It makes me very sad that dogs have such short lives, but it does give us the opportunity to let several dogs into our lives throughout our lifetime.
We can love an old dog that no one else wants because we know we’ll survive the pain of loss. It never gets any easier. Losing a family member is probably one of the hardest things we have to experience in our lives.
Let the Love Overflow
But there is always another senior dog waiting for us – waiting for that love that only we can give because our hearts are so full of love from all the dogs we’ve already loved. That love just builds up in us until we have to give some of it away. There is always another senior dog waiting to show us how grateful they are that we didn’t walk away.
So the next time you’re at the shelter looking for a forever friend, don’t pass up the old dogs just because you don’t want your heart to break after a few months or years. Give one of them a chance at getting the love they deserve.