Adopting a Senior Dog: Aged to Perfection

An Animal Planet program called Too Cute is all about puppies, and it’s fun to watch litters of puppies wrestle and chew their way through the hour-long show. No doubt, puppies are delightful. But puppies turn into adult dogs, and adult dogs can turn into old dogs that nobody wants anymore. Take Schooner, a 12-year-old Labrador, whose owner left him at an Austin, Texas shelter with a startling comment: “I get a new dog every 12 years.” Fortunately, Schooner was adopted by a caring owner: “We owed it to him to see that what time he has left is the best time of his life.”

If you’re thinking of adopting a dog, here are some advantages of an older dog that you may not have considered:

  • It’s the right thing to do. When you take home an older dog, you show your compassion and your attitude toward the value of life. Adopting a senior dog is a wonderful statement to your children, who will witness your care for an older creature.
  • Mature dogs know how to fit into a household. They often come from homes where their owner has died or has to leave the family home; others aren’t wanted because the novelty of owning a dog has worn off, through no fault of the dog.
  • Senior dogs are quick learners. Seniors are accustomed to being a pet, and they pick up their new owner’s preferences fast. Two older female dogs arrived at one home never having been to a veterinary hospital or walked on a leash. They tolerated their first visit to a veterinary hospital very well, and it took only one walk around the park for both dogs to learn how to walk on a leash.
  • Older dogs are calm and like to relax. They are playful and love to take walks, but calm older dogs also enjoy lying near your chair or finding a corner in the kitchen to watch you make dinner.

One concern of people adopting an older dog is the cost of care as the dog ages. Health problems can surface at any age, and all dogs, young or old, need regular veterinary hospital care. Before adopting a senior pet, ask for a health report; if a health problem exists, you can decide if you want to proceed with the adoption or not. You can find a veterinary hospital in Austin that offers services specifically geared to geriatric pet care and preventive measures for keeping older pets healthy.

The Senior Dogs Project ( declares, “Dogs, when well cared for and given appropriate exercise, remain happy, active, playful and puppy-like well into their senior years.”


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