Thinking of bringing home a new dog? When considering family additions of the canine type, many of us conjure up images of cute, energetic puppies. But there’s a “subpawpulation” that usually gets overlooked in favor of younger dogs at animal shelters – these are the dogs in their golden years, and they are in need of homes as well.
The next time you’re visiting a shelter to look for your new four-legged BFF, try to get to know the older residents! Let’s get things rolling with a few reasons senior pups make woof-derful additions to the family, according to Cesar’s Way, Dogtime, and iHeartDogs.
6 fur-bulous reasons to adopt an older dog
1. They’re calmer than younger dogs
While they still require attention and exercise, senior dogs are often less demanding than puppies. They know how to amuse themselves, they don’t have to be monitored constantly, and they’re willing to adjust to your schedule, making them paw-fectly suited for older people, busy households, families with young children, and first-time dog parents.
2. They know where the bathroom is
Older dogs usually come house-trained: They know that the patch of grass outside – not the carpet in your living room – is the place to do their business. They also tend to understand some basic commands, such as sit stay, and come, especially if they have once been part of a human family.
3. They are unlikely to destroy your stuff
Since senior doggos are already past the rambunctious, teething puppy stage, you’re rest assured that your possessions are safe from any destructive chewing. You’re more likely to find your elderly dog napping peacefully on the sofa than tearing your toilet paper to shreds.
4. They make furrific companions
Most senior pooches have already been socialized and have learned to get along with humans and other animals. And regardless of their lifestyle before meeting you, they’ll have no problem adjusting to yours. Whether you prefer taking long walks around the neighborhood or relaxing in the garden, you can expect your senior canine pal to be by your side.
5. They pack fewer surprises
What you see is pretty much what you get with older pups. Because their size and temperament are already established, you’ll know right away if they’ll fit into your family and lifestyle. There’s no more wondering how big they’ll grow or what their personality is like.
6. They need love, too
Many older shelter dogs become depressed as they are often passed over in favor of younger dogs. But they also need homes, just like their junior counterparts. When you open your home to a senior pup, you’ll find that they still have lots of love to give and will happily spend the rest of their lives being your loyal companion.
Making your newly adopted senior dog feel at home
So you’re sold on the idea of adopting an older dog. Puptastic! Follow these tips from The Grey Muzzle Organization to help your newest family member adjust to their surroundings with ease.
1. No visitors (for now)
Give your senior pooch some time to settle in so that they can get to know the members of the household. If you have other dogs, introduce them one by one, ideally in neutral territory outside your home.
2. Provide a safe spot that’s just “theirs”
Place a crate or soft bed in a quiet corner where your senior dog can feel secure. They may sleep a lot and stay in their spot during the first few days, but once they feel more comfortable, they’ll start joining you in your activities.
3. Slow and steady wins the race
Wait a few days before doing any potentially stressful activities, such as visiting the vet or giving your dog a bath. If you’re changing their diet, transition them to their new food over a week at least.
4. Be patient
Your elderly dog may not show their true personality until after the first week. While most senior dogs are very adaptable, it’s still impawtant to give them time to adjust to their new environment.
Instagram’s top senior dogs
These Internet-famous senior canines are sharing their golden years on social media – #nofilterneeded!
1. Pirate (@pirate_marie)
Pirate is a thirteen-year-old “puppy” who lives in Oahu, Hawaii. She spent seven years in the shelter, where she kept getting overlooked due to her age.
She was finally adopted in 2017 by Jennifer Hoyt and her husband. Speaking to The Dodo, Jennifer says, “It has been the most rewarding and fulfilling thing knowing that we changed her life… We don’t care if we’re going to have her for three more years or for three more days. We’re going to make it the best life she’s ever had.”
2. Wolfgang (@wolfgang2242)
The Wolfgang is the name of Steve Greig’s Colorado-based pack of senior dog rescues (and other animals). Seven years ago, Steve’s beloved Miniature Pinscher, Wolfgang, passed away. To honor his best friend’s life, Steve went down to his local shelter to pick up the “oldest, least likely to be adopted dog.”
He is currently the devoted dad of eight senior pooches. On one of his Instagram posts, Steve writes, “The best thing about giving senior dogs a home is seeing them happy and confident and loved.”
3. The Misfits (@jemandthemisfits)
The Misfits are Julie Docherty’s band of senior Chihuahuas (and a cat). Since adopting her first elderly dog, Sir MoMo, in 2011, Julie has cared for eight seniors and advocated for senior rescue.
Sir MoMo is now 19 and shares the Instagram spotlight with Colonel Cornelio, 12, and Sergeant Pepper, 18. “With senior pups you never have to nap alone. They sleep. A lot. And have an enormous capacity for love, with an attitude of gratitude,” Julie tells The Dodo.
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s October issue.
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