The short answer? It depends. But I’m guessing you might like a more complete explanation so here’s the deal:

Old Dog Haven HELPS homeless (or soon to be homeless) senior dogs in western Washington in two ways:

1) Dogs eight years and older that are adoptable are posted on our website and Facebook page for shelters, other rescue groups and individuals.

2) We provide permanent Final Refuge homes for dogs eight years and older that are NOT ADOPTABLE due to medical, mental or emotional issues. We give preference to the oldest dogs and those that have serious health issues.

Still not quite clear? When we use the term adoptable we’re talking about a senior dog that doesn’t have any serious health issues that would prevent him from enjoying a good quality of life. We post dogs in this category on our website because people who go to our website are interested in senior dogs and so the dog has a much better chance of being adopted if someone sees his posting. Here’s an example of a dog that is currently posted on our website and Facebook page:

Meet Miss Riley, a 10 year old, 45 pound border collie who is full of love and aching for a new forever home after her owner had to move to a retirement facility that didn’t allow dogs. Riley is an incredibly gregarious dog who adores people. She loves playing fetch in the yard and is great on leash and in the car, making her just about the perfect companion. Riley is very special girl looking for a very special active and engaged home with a nice fenced yard where she can have a new family who will love her forever. Riley would be happy to be the center of attention so the rescue is looking for a home for Riley with no other pets or small children please.

 Ok, so you’ve read about Riley and are wondering why she isn’t being adopted from Vashon Island Pet Protectirs. Why does she need to be posted on our website and Facebook page?  Riley and many other senior dogs aren’t adopted from shelters because people generally don’t go to a shelter to adopt a senior dog; they’re looking for younger dogs or puppies.


Moving on to unadoptable dogs – i.e. the dogs we take into our permanent foster program. These dogs would never be adopted from a shelter because of their physical, mental or emotional issues. Here’s an example of one of our permanent residents:

Orion came into the shelter a pretty sad picture: VERY thin, missing hair everywhere with a red bare belly and angry-red bare throat, infected red ears, very bent hind legs signaling old ligament tears in his knees that had become arthritic. Once on a good diet, supplements, antibiotics, medicated baths with topical treatment in between, he has started sprouting new hair and his eyes have started glowing. His x-rays show terrible arthritis in many joints and in his back but with meds on board he delights in prancing around the field and rolling around in the grass. Medication stopped the itching right away and he’s eating everything in sight. This big guy may never look like a show dog but he will be a lot more comfortable!


Orion looks much better now, but he would have died in the shelter if Old Dog Haven hadn’t taken him in because he was clearly in terrible shape and the shelter didn’t have the resources to help him. He wasn’t healthy. He wasn’t adoptable.

Are you beginning to see the difference between adoptable and unadoptable? It’s not so much a matter of age (although the dog must be eight years or older to qualify as a senior) but of physical/mental/emotional health. Typically our dogs are 12 or older when they come to us, although we’ve taken in some eight year-olds that were so damaged they weren’t adoptable under any circumstances. It’s all about health on every level.

What’s the moral of this story? There are three actually:

1) The next time you visit a shelter, don’t pass up the senior dogs. They have so much to offer and being in a shelter is hard on them. (Shelter life is hard on any dog, but the seniors really suffer.)

2) When you think about adoptable dogs, think about dogs that are basically healthy and with some normal veterinary care will continue to have a good quality of life.

3) When you think about unadoptable dogs, think about dogs that have chronic and sometimes acute medical problems and need special medical and emotional care to recover. That’s what we provide. Old Dog Haven pays for all veterinary expenses for the dogs in our care. Our foster families provide love, security, respect and the opportunity for a dog to be a valued member of the family.


Check out our website ( for adoptable dogs in western Washington and also meet some of our permanent Final Refuge dogs.



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