Many people overlook senior pets when considering their adoption options. With so much unconditional love to give, the rewards when adopting a senior pet can be endless. Check out these personal adoption insights from an animal lover who has adopted both puppies and senior dogs throughout the years.
Adopting a Senior Dog – Personal Insights
By Sloan McKinney
As a lifelong animal lover, I’ve had more than my fair share of pets, both cats and dogs, each with their own personality, unique characteristics and special place in my heart. After having a dog for nineteen years-that’s right 19 years-LBD (my little black dog) in many ways was like my own child.
I got her as a puppy, and the first few years of her life, she was extremely rambunctious. Since she was a rat terrier-mixed-breed-mutt, she went after everything that scurried, flew, smelled funny or looked at her sideways.
Fast forward many years, after LBD had crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I was very hesitant to adopt another dog. After about a year had passed, the same person that found my LBD wandering the streets asked me to consider rescuing another, much older dog.
The thought of another little black dog was intriguing, but I needed to weigh the options of adopting one that was older, and this time a purebred Cairn Terrier (aka Toto from The Wizard of Oz). She was in a home with senior parents who could no longer care for her. Without help, she could end up in a shelter, where it is often hard for older pets to get adopted. There was something that just “clicked” about this whole experience. An animal was in need. Another little black dog, who was a bit overweight, and a purebred Cairn Terrier, like Toto from my favorite movie. I had to have her, and I didn’t care how old she was. Since I already had experience dealing with an aging dog, I knew that eight years is actually pretty young for a smaller dog. I knew that she had plenty of healthy years ahead of her, and I wanted to ensure she didn’t become another displaced dog. I said yes, and never looked back.
Similarities and Differences
When you’ve had puppies and senior dogs under your care, you quickly learn that there are similarities and differences to both. Understanding them makes it much easier to make the best decision about the type of dog you want to adopt. Here are a few things that I learned from my personal experience of having both younger and older dogs:
PUPPIES must be trained, get into a lot of mischief, chew things, have plenty of energy, and are prone to many “accidents” during their potty training days.
SENIORS almost always come with some basic training. They often have calmer demeanors requiring less energy from you. As they continue to age, they may or may not have “accidents.”
PUPPIES need more visits to a qualified veterinarian beyond once a year, since they need more vaccinations and need to be spayed or neutered. The doctor will also make sure they’re developing at their desired pace, much like a human child.
SENIORS also may or may not need to go more than once a year to get their annual check-up, as you vet needs to look out for signs of aging and the development of any conditions or diseases that often arise during elder years.
PUPPIESneed special toys, more attention, exercise, and need to be put on a schedule to ensure they’re exercised and fed regularly.
SENIORS still require exercise, attention, and proper nutrition, but often the exercise regime is less intense, and your pet may have less interest in extensive play as he ages.
As with any decision to bring a new pet into the family, you should educate yourself on what care the animal will need. My personal advice is to not be hesitant to adopt an older pet. They have much love to give and will surely appreciate the opportunity to live out their golden years with a family who will love and care for them until their days end. Honor National Adopt A Senior Pet Month, and please consider an older canine or feline in your choice.
Sloan McKinney is a friend of DAWS and an active contributor of content for our monthly newsletter.