By Robert Pregulman
This month we welcome back guest blogger, Robert Pregulman, who runs Seattle DogSpot, a comprehensive resource for all things dog in the Seattle area, including dog friendly businesses, dog event calendar, and a blog about dog-related issues. In this blog Robert shares his thoughts about adopting a senior dog. Thank you, Robert.
When I lived in Seattle I volunteered as a dog walker at the Seattle Animal Shelter for several years. Although I was in my early 50’s, I’d never volunteered at an animal shelter before because I thought that I couldn’t handle seeing all those homeless dogs in the kennels.
But I quickly got over that fear after seeing how ecstatic the dogs were to get outside. The fact that the shelter did not euthanize adoptable dogs also helped because I knew those dogs would eventually find loving homes.
Senior dogs love outings! This man from my neighborhood shared a latte with his dog every day.
One thing I could not get over, however, was seeing senior dogs in kennels. They ended up in the shelter for various reasons: their owners died, their owners developed medical problems and could no longer care for them, their owners couldn’t afford medical treatment the dogs needed, their family moved and couldn’t take them, or they were strays the shelter picked up.
Many of these senior dogs looked bewildered as if they couldn’t understand how they ended up in a strange place with a bunch of other dogs. Others just shut down and stared mournfully into space.
Seeing these confused, sad dogs just crushed my heart.
Fortunately, over the last 20 years or so, people started rescues like Old Dog Haven with the specific mission of getting dogs, that are at least eight years old out of shelters and finding permanent homes for them.
These rescues have taken literally thousands of senior dogs out of shelters, and they work diligently to find them permanent, loving homes. As a result, you can now easily find senior dogs available for adoption.
If you’re looking to adopt a senior dog, this month is the perfect time to do it because November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month.
- Most of them are already housebroken and have had basic training. Your carpets, upholstery, wooden furniture legs, and shoes will thank you.
- They’ve gotten their ya-ya’s out. Senior dogs much are calmer and less likely to exhibit significant behavior changes than younger dogs.
- They need less supervision. Because of the two previous points, senior dogs don’t require constant supervision.
- They need less exercise. While exercise is still important for dogs regardless of their age, senior dogs need less of it than younger dogs.
- What you see is what you get. Unlike younger dogs, senior dogs’ size, personality, and temperament are fully developed.
- You get help with expenses. Rescues like Old Dog Haven will pay vet bills, medical supplies, and prescriptions for dogs that are in permanent Old Dog Haven foster homes.
The most common reason I’ve heard from people who are hesitant about adopting a senior dog is that they don’t want to go through the pain of euthanizing a dog so soon after adopting it. I get that. But a senior dog can live several years after you adopt it.
My senior dog Dylan still loved to fetch even when he was 12 years old.
More importantly, the joy senior dogs give far outweighs the pain of losing them. This experience is best explained by Old Dog Haven volunteer Chelsea Saunders in a previous post on this blog:
“Every single senior we have taken in has given us so, so, so, SO much more love than the pain their loss causes. And the love lingers; the pain fades. Getting to watch these creatures learn love, learn comfort, learn to feel worthy and proud. Getting to see health improvements—which almost always happens, even if temporarily—getting to know them, and see the special, unique love that each one has to share…it is everything. Even though I am only 38 I have had the privilege of knowing and loving fifteen animal family members over the years. How lucky am I to be able to say that? Each of them has brought joy, love, lessons, and wisdom. The pain is nothing compared to that.”
So if you plan to adopt a dog soon, please consider adopting a senior dog to celebrate Adopt a Senior Pet Month.
I promise you won’t regret it.