Personal Insights on Adopting a Senior Dog

Many people overlook senior pets when considering their adoption options. With so much unconditional love to give, theSr dog v2 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.

Another Chapter

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.

November is All About Seniors!

Many older cats and dogs spend more time in shelters than others, simply because of their age. You can help make a difference in the life of an older pet. Learn more about why a senior pet may be the perfect match for you.

Please click here to read more about adopting an older pet!

senior trio

Pet Valu “Your Pet, Your Story” Facebook Contest

DAWS has been selected as an eligible organization for the Pet Valu “Your Pet, Your Story” Facebook contest. From now Posting Graphicuntil November 23rd, you can submit a story about your pet or DAWS on the Pet Valu Facebook page. For each story shared, DAWS will have one chance to win a Pet Valu gift card.

Pet Valu has selected DAWS as one of the eligible rescue organizations to participate in this month’s Facebook contest. The “Your Pet, Your Story” contest is running now through November 23rd on Pet Valu’s Facebook page,

All Facebook users are encouraged to share a story of why they are thankful for their pet or local rescue. On the entry page is a dropdown list where DAWS can be selected as a resuce organization to support. For each story shared where DAWS is selected, we will get an entry into a drawing at the end of the contest period. One entrant will be randomly selected from the stories submitted. That entrant will win a $250 Pet Valu gift card for themselves and a $500 Pet Valu gift card for the local rescue they selected with their submission.

Take advantage of this opportunity to share your personal story about what your pet and DAWS means to you. Your submission could help us win a valuable gift card that will help us buy needed supplies for the animals in our care.

Share your story today, then share this link with your friends and family.

DAWS Holiday Greeting Cards Are Back!

The holidays are right around the corner.  Get your holiday cards from DAWS, and spread some good cheer for the cause.

Holiday cards can be purchased at the shelter by contacting Lenore Maskara at Cards come in packages of 10. The supply is limited; don’t delay and miss this great opportunity to share warm, fuzzy holiday greetings!

Additionally, you can purchase your holiday cards here then pick them up at the shelter during open house hours:

Wednesday – Friday, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM
Saturday-Sunday, 2:00 PM-4:00 PM


Speak Out Against Breed-specific Legislation

Charity on back with toy

The city of Montreal recently passed breed-specific legislation (BSL) banning Pit Bulls and Pit Bull-type dogs. Many organizations agree that BSL is not based on science. Learn more about what these organizations have to say about BSL.

Protecting Pit Bulls: Speak Out Against Breed-specific Legislation

On October 3rd, Pit Bulls in the city of Montreal will be banned. The city recently passed breed-specific legislation (BSL) banning Pit Bulls and Pit Bull-type dogs. As of the end of this year, the legislation will make it illegal to own a pit bull-type dog, which includes American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers, or any mixed breed dogs with those breeds, or a dog with physical characteristics similar to the breeds listed banned. Current owners of these types of dogs may request to register their dogs under a special ownership permit and follow specific regulations in order to keep their dogs.

Legislation of this kind puts dogs and their owners at risk, and can mean that countless innocent animals in shelters or with owners who cannot afford to pay for the permit will be senselessly euthanized. Many organizations, including animal welfare, government, and health agencies agree that BSL is not based on science. Learn more about what these organizations have to say about BSL.

You can become a voice for change. Speak out against BSL and support the facts.  You can start today by signing the petition sponsored by

DAWS Gains Exposure Through Our Partners

Our partnership with Pets for Patriots has given us the chance to gain exposure to thousands of people beyond our reach.Brad-and-Dolly-on-porch_2 DAWS was featured on the Wet Nose Blog, reaching email subscribers of our Pets for Patriots partner.

DAWS Featured in Wet Nose Blog

Our partnership with Pets for Patriots  is helping to make a difference in the lives of animals and U.S. veterans. One of our wonderful adoption stories has been shared on the organization’s Wet Nose Blog, giving DAWS exposure to thousands of people beyond our reach. We are thrilled to partner with this great organization!

Read the story of how DAWS and Dolly made a difference in the life of Marine Corps veteran, Brad.

October is All about Dogs

Someone once said, “the world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” WeOctober Newsletter Content_GAC1 believe that to be true. October is a month to honor the unconditional love that dogs give by celebrating both Adopt-a-Dog month and National Pit Bull Awareness month.

October is truly all about dogs!  Two great initiatives are featured in the month of October to help raise awareness about the plight of homeless dogs.

Adopt-a-Dog Month

In 1981 the American Humane Association established an annual event to encourage people to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue organization.  Each year, millions of dogs end up homeless and waiting in shelters for a hero to come and rescue them.  For far, far too many of them, a hero never comes, and they are tragically euthanized.

Even if you are not able to adopt a dog, you still have a chance to be a hero for animals in need during Adopt-a-Dog month.  You can help celebrate in many ways:

Adopt from a shelter or rescue group

Open your heart to a new best friend from your local shelter!  There is no reason to buy a dog from a pet store when millions of adoptable dogs are waiting for forever homes in a shelter nearby.

Spay or neuter your dog

Altering your dog prevents the possibility of unexpected and unwanted puppies that contribute to the burden of animal overpopulation.  Spayed and neutered animals also may lead longer, healthier lives, with fewer of certain behavioral problems exhibited by animals who have not been spayed or neutered.

ID your pet

Only 15-20 percent of lost dogs that enter a shelter find their way home. Make sure your dog is one of the fortunate few by outfitting him with proper identification in the form of I.D. tags or a microchip.

Support your local shelter like DAWS

Donating time, money or supplies to your local shelter can demonstrate how much you care.   DAWS even gives you a chance to show your support by sponsoring a dog (or cat) to make your monetary donation even more personal.

October Newsletter Content_GAC2Pit Bull Awareness Month & National Pit Bull Awareness Day

In 2007, Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys pit bull rescue and education group in Tennessee established National Pit Bull Awareness Day (NPBAD) to provide awareness and education aimed at changing the negative and inaccurate perceptions and stereotypes about pit bulls and their responsible owners.  NPBAD is dedicated to restoring the image of the American Pit Bull Terrier by helping to educate and foster positive communications and experiences in the communities where pit bulls and their owners live. The last Saturday of every October is designated as NPBAD.  This year, it will be celebrated on October 22nd.

In 2011, NPBAD was expanded to create National Pit Bull Awareness Month.  Extending the celebration to the entire month of October means there is a greater opportunity for shelters, breed clubs, and rescue organizations to spotlight the breed through a variety of means, including adoptions, educational programs, and responsible ownership events.  Learn more about this national campaign.

DAWS also tries to correct the misconceptions held by many about pit bulls.  You can read heartfelt stories of love from pit bull owners and find facts that refute some of the common myths about pit bulls on our website.

A Heartfelt Farewell to a Friend

In April of 2015, Angel floated into our hearts. She warmed us with her smile and taught us the meaning of hope. On Angel V DaySeptember 27, more than a year after arriving at DAWS, Angel spread her wings and flew away to her forever home. She left with a smile, giving us confidence that we will give hope to many more animals in need. Read a touching letter to Angel as she starts her new life in her new home.

 After more than a year in our care, Angel finally went to her forever home. While she was with us, she touched many hearts, making it both a happy and sad day when she left for her forever home. Kristen’s letter to Angel sums it up for all of us.

Dear Angel,

About a year and a half ago, you and your pal Steve, the wonderful Bethel Animal Control Officer, walked into the shelter. You had been “living” with him for a while, and you adored him. I fell instantly in love with you and the happy snorts you made at him. When Steve left, you looked out the window at him and cried and cried. I reassured you that I’d do the best I could to take care of you, and soon you’d have a home of your own. I know it took a while, but you were so patient, as you always are. Today, I finally got to watch you from that very window walk to the car with your new dad, Bob. My heart is bursting with joy for you, sweet girl.

This day is a long time coming. You deserve every single happy snort and butt wiggle you’ll be sharing with Bob from now on. I know you’ll take such good care of him, and you’ll probably make his heart a bit bigger.

You left your mark in the hearts of so many people. The staff and volunteers adore you. The people you met in the community always ask about you. I think it has to do with your doggie optimism. You definitely had a rough go of it before making your way to Steve, but you’ve never held a grudge. Once you got used to the shelter, your butt never stopped wiggling, and you treated everyone as your best friend. You are inherently good.

It has been an honor to bring you into the community and watch you work your magic on the people you meet. I couldn’t imagine learning how to do this Community Outreach thing without you. You taught a little girl how not to be afraid of dogs. You kept strangers company for however long they needed.  When they wanted to sit with you, you were perfectly happy as you leaned in to each other. You made countless others laugh and smile. You changed the perceptions of those who thought Pit Bulls are scary. You have been the perfect sidekick, and I’ll treasure all our adventures.

Let’s take a minute together to thank all the wonderful friends who helped you reach this happy day. Thank you to Steve for helping during those dark days. Thank you to everyone at DAWS who showered you with love every single day. Thank you Sophie Gamand, BarkBox, Danbury Titans, Color On Wheels, The Exceptional Pet LLC., Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, Shelter Pet Project, Pittie2020, Rebecca Corry, Stand Up For Pits Foundation, Sarah Matula Photography, Christie Keith, and BarkPost Jonathanfor helping you on her journey and seeing her beauty.

Enjoy every minute of having your very own dad. Rest your head on his knee and sigh with contentment every night when you both sit on “your” love seat, as he calls it. Hop in his car with enthusiasm, and know the ride you take is never one that’s taking you back to the shelter at the end of the day.

You’re home, Angel, where you should be.

Love always,


Reduce Returns: Pick the Right Dog for Your Personality

Many animals adopted are returned to shelters by their adopted parents. Often potential pet parents aren’t prepared for the commitment that comes with adopting an animal. It’s important to consider a number of factors before adopting, including picking a pet personality that matches yours. With careful consideration, you can make a match that will last a lifetime.

Reduce Returns: Pick the Right Dog for Your Personality

by Sloan McKinney

Many people may not know that up to 20% of animals adopted are returned to shelters by their adopted parents, many within the first few weeks or months of ownership. There are a variety of reasons for relinquishing a pet that have nothing to do with the animals themselves.  Often potential pet parents aren’t prepared for the commitment that comes with adopting an animal, and surveys have shown that often the reason give for a was “unwanted/incompatible” (12%). To reduce the number of returns, it is important for potential pet parents to carefully consider the type of pet personality and activity level that will best match theirs.

Activity Levels

Dogs, like children, require attention and engagement. It is important to consider the type of activity level you are looking for in your new companion before adopting. When looking for a specific breed, know that some are more active than others.

Big dogSize Matters

While it would seem that smaller dogs wouldn’t need as much exercise as a larger ones, that isn’t necessarily true. Dogs sleep many hours during the day, but studies have shown that some larger canines are actually among the laziest. Sometimes referred to as “mat dogs” for their seemingly endless naptimes, breeds like the Mastiff, Newfoundland, Pyrenees and Saint Bernard, can sleep more than the average 12 to 14 hours per day.

On the other end of the size spectrum, smaller dogs, like the many types of terriers, have often been called “little terrors,” when not exercised enough. Other smaller breeds that are considered high-energy dogs are the Australian Shepherd, Beagle, and Poodle.

Age Considerations

When looking at younger dogs versus older dogs, it’s important for potential adopters to consider their age, as well, when making their selection. Puppies require a lot more attention and training than senior dogs. They are very active, require work with potty training, and need a lot of play and training. Many senior dogs have already been housebroken and have outgrown their need for constant attention and activity. Many senior dogs are healthy and will make great companions for years to come, but sometimes matching a senior human with a senior dog may require more consideration. Some senior dogs could develop health issues that an older person may not be able to handle.

Some dogs are more comfortable as lap dogs and would pair nicely with a senior citizen. Canines that are content to relax on a lap include:

●      Bichon Frise

●      Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

●      Chihuahua

●      Maltese

●      Pomeranian

●      Shih Tzu

●      Yorkshire Terrier

Grooming RequirementsPoodle

While some people enjoy the pomp and circumstance involved with having a poodle that needs a great deal of grooming, others don’t want a dog that needs that much attention. All dogs need some regular grooming, but a long-haired dog, like a Lhasa Apso, will require far more grooming than one with a short coat, like a Dachshund.

Life Span

The vast majority of the time, large breed dogs age much faster than small breeds. Compare the average life expectancy of an Irish Wolfhound at around six years to that of a Chihuahua that could live eighteen years or more. While some may not want the grief associated with losing a dog before it’s tenth birthday, others may not want to commit to caring for a pet for two decades or more.

Making the decision to adopt an animal means making a commitment to care for a living creature throughout its lifetime.  That is a commitment that should not be taken lightly. To reduce the potential need to return an adopted dog because of incompatibility, carefully consider your own lifestyle, age, and exactly what you want from your new animal. There is a perfect match for everyone, and the rewards of saving a life are endless.

Healthier Choices for Treating & Feeding Pets

Like the parents of two-legged children, pet parents are often concerned about feeding their furry friends a healthy diet.Puppy carrot v2 If you’ve ever struggled to find nutritious snacks to feed your pet, rest assured there are many healthy, pet-friendly foods from which to choose. Some of them just might surprise you.

Healthier Choices for Treating & Feeding Pets
by Sloan McKinney

For parents with two-legged children, sometimes it can be difficult to ensure they consume enough healthy foods in their diets, especially fruits and vegetables. The same is true for parents of our four-legged friends. Many families struggle to find healthy treat and food options for their pets.  With weight gain and obesity a growing problem for today’s pet population, feeding and rewarding them with healthier, less fattening food and treat options is a good choice. What might be surprising is just how many healthy choices your pets may enjoy.

Treat Them with Veggies

When it comes to treat time, change things up with a few veggies. For example, some dogs think carrots are actually a flavorful chew toy and will gnaw on them until there’s nothing left. Giving your cat some steamed broccoli florets to chew is an option to distract them from chewing on your leafy houseplants.

Experiment With Different Choices

While your dog or cat might not like carrots, perhaps they’ll love cantaloupe. Both options have healthy rewards to offer them, but you’ll never know what they might enjoy until you try. Other “superfoods” and healthier feeding options for our pets include berries, apples (without the seeds), bananas, spinach, watermelon (again-seedless), sweet potatoes, and popcorn (with no added butter or salt). If your dog or cat doesn’t enjoy eating a certain type of fruit or vegetable when first handed to them, you can still introduce these healthier choices into their diet in other creative ways. You can add a bit of mashed, steamed vegetables or finely chopped fruits into their regular food supply and they’re likely to not to even notice the difference.

Foods To Avoid

Similar to chocolate and other toxins when it comes to our pets, some options that may appear to be healthy may be dangerous for our animals:

  • Grapes and raisins contain toxics that are dangerous for dogs
  • Onions and garlic should both be avoided for dogs and cats
  • Avocado
  • Acidic tomatoes don’t agree with canines or kitties
  • Mushrooms, particularly wild ones, aren’t good for animals to ingest
  • Nuts, especially macadamia nuts, are also toxic for pets

Avoid giving animals fruits with that contain pits, such as peaches, cherries, and plums. Not only are this bad for them in general, they also pose an obvious choking hazard.

Cat in GrassBegin With Moderation

Don’t give your precious pet too much of any one good thing right out of the gate. Start out with small doses at first, such as just one berry or a small leaf of spinach or lettuce. If your animal accepts it, wait a few days and look for possible reactions, including itchy skin or gastric distresses like diarrhea, constipation or flatulence.

You should always consult your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, but most will agree that healthier options are better. Just like their human companions, our pets will enjoy longer and happier lives with better, healthier trets and meals.

*Cats generally do not like fruit, as they lack the receptors for sweetness.