Last week we pointed out many advantages to adopting an older dog. This week, we’ll dispell some of the myths that can lead adopters to overlook suitable candidates simply because of their age.
Lifestyle is a better gauge than a dog’s age
While age is a factor, it shouldn’t be a barrier to adoption. Some dogs remain spry and energetic long after they’re technically “seniors.” As a prospective adopter, your lifestyle and desired activity level are better gauges for finding a good match. Are you a power hiker? Or are you looking for a more casual walking companion? Is your ideal dog a homebody who’ll spend much of the day snoozing? At Rescue Ranch nothing beats a successful placement, so finding the right match is our top priority.
An older dog can adapt as readily as a younger one
Adopters sometimes express concerns that an older dog might be slow to adapt to a new family. While it’s true that seniors are not blank slates, they do respond to love and training. Some take a little longer, but in many cases they adjust rapidly because they’ve already had some degree of socialization.
Rosie, an older dog who came into our lives last fall, arrived with no formal training, yet she settled in and learned to “sit” more quickly than many juveniles. She blossoms more each day and her sassy personality is endlessly entertaining!
Like all dogs, seniors need to understand what is expected of them in their new homes. They’ll learn with patience and clear communication. On the other hand, sometimes it’s the adopter who chooses to adapt. For instance, Rosie insists on sleeping under the bed covers. We could have trained her to sleep in a crate, but we’ve chosen to embrace that particular quirk!
Quality beats quantity
We all want our pets to live forever, but, in truth, there is no sure way of calculating how long a dog will live. Accidents and unexpected illness sometimes shorten their expected lifespan. Meanwhile, an older dog might live well into its teens.
Take Noodle, for example. Noodle the pug was rescued at the age of seven and went on to live another seven years. Noodle’s “no bones days” went viral on social media, inspiring a line of merchandise and two children’s books. When he passed away last December, thousands mourned. The next time someone says a dog over six doesn’t have much time left, remember Noodle.
And time isn’t eveything. Although hospice care is challenging, even when you know your time together is limited, adoption can be incredibly rewarding. My two months with our beloved hospice pup, Spirit were precious beyond words.
The best match is a win-win
A successful adoption is a two-way street: it’s not just about what they give us, it’s also about what we give them. In the end, whatever their age, all dogs are individuals and adoption is an adventure. So next time you’re looking, please consider an older dog. You’ll be glad you did.