Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The rewards of adopting older pets

Hmmm, blogger is sucking up and not showing pictures. Sorry for the missing pics in the previous post and the inability to post the picture I'd like to have here. (Note: I was finally able to post a Yuki picture but it may disappear - sorry if that happens.)

The picture is of a little black dog I adopted when she was a senior. Yuki is just one of the older pets I've adopted. I know people worry about adopting other people's "problems" and hesitate to get an older pet. But so often this is NOT the case.

With people moving and not taking pets, with economics changing the ability to keep housing, with not all people feeling pets are part of the family -- these are just some of the many reasons good animals end up needing new homes.

Older pets are often already housebroken or litter box trained. They often have become more mellow with age and they are always so grateful and loyal when they are given another chance to have a home. One of my favorite senior adoptions was a Scottish Terrier named Duncan. At approximately 12, he had a life of ups and downs. His first home had taken care of him but didn't take him with when they moved. His next home kept him tied out on a chain and did not keep him groomed. He was, however, given all he could eat and was overweight and not exercised.

When he came to live with me Duncan was obese, going deaf, had chronic ear infections, and was developing a heart condition. He was also one of the most fantastic little guys I've ever known.

Duncan loved to just hang out with me. After just a week of exercise Duncan was able to get up on the couch. Once on the couch he would sit back like a chubby little old man, his back leaning against the back of the couch, his paw resting on the couch arm. I would look over from my seat and I swear, Duncan would wink! He would then doze off while I worked on my computer - very companionable and never demanding.

Duncan lived less than a year after he moved in with me. We had to do daily ear cleaning because of the chronic ear problems. Fortunately, Duncan did not hold a grudge, even though he hated the ear cleaning. I do not regret one minute of the time we spent together and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. He was such a pleasure to know.

I'd love to hear from other people who have adopted adult pets. Please, share your stories and tell us about your special older pet.

And if it stays, this is a picture of my adopted as an adult, senior collie, Jenny. She has appointed herself the neighborhood greater so when we're out in the yard she will walk out wagging her tail when anyone walks by. She's very popular!


  1. You have lovely dogs and it is encouraging to learn of another dog lover willing to take in and rehab/adopt seniors.

    I'm on my third senior dog rescue. The first was Breezy the bluetick coonhound who was supposed to be 7 but turned out to be 9 (I had her papers). Breezy had hip dysplasia and arthritis and had been hit by a car and untreated for a week shortly after a rescue took her in (she subsequently got surgery). She was lame when I got her. She'd be given up originally because she could no longer hunt (given her sensitivity to noise, I have to imagine she was also gun shy).

    My vet and I worked with her - giving her 8 weekly Adequan shots, daily Metacam, Cosequin and lots of exercise (built up slowly). Ultimately, she was able to hike a couple hours. She was a very physical dog and loved to play hard with my shepherd pup - they were hilarious and she acted like a puppy herself. I lost Breezy about a year ago to cancer.

    She was my first dog as an adult. I liked the idea of taking on a senior dog - they have a harder time being adopted and they are easier. She was really sweet and affectionate and we had a lot of fun. She was a bit shy and anxious but blossomed over the time I had her and became a social butterfly. I couldn't ever let her off leash, though - she'd be in the next county.

    A year ago I adopted Ruby - a 12 year old retriever mix. Ruby is just an all around great dog. She loves kids, adults, seniors (she visits my neighborhood nursing home), dogs, hiking/camping. She has a great recall and is just easy (other than her habit of rushing at people, bikes, dogs and barking - but she's just announcing they are there, not attacking).

    She also has arthritis and hadn't had exercise in a long time (her pads were like cats' pads, soft and sensitive). Again, my vet and I treated her for her arthritis and she got slowly increasing exercise and can now hike for a couple hours. She's funny - bossy, and lays down the rules for other dogs, but gets along with them all well. She's still with me - she's a fiend for sticks, balls, frisbees, hiking/camping, a great companion.

    Then there's my latest addition - Gilbert, the 14 year old beagle, whom I adopted a couple months ago. He's deaf, half blind and, you guessed it, arthritic. He was given up because he wouldn't hunt anymore (Kathy's home for retired hounds). We have treated him and gotten him exercise, he's more muscled and can hike 30-45 minutes, although the stronger he gets the more he wants to go and look for rabbits and not in the direction I want to go (I can't let him off leash for very long).

    Like my other dogs, he gets along with and loves everybody. The small kids in my neighborhood love him because he is small and gentle - more their size than my two big dogs. He's a funny boy - so friendly and people-oriented.

    Since this blog is about how dogs affect us, I should say something about that - adopting and helping my senior dogs get stronger, with less pain, and more physicality has been so satisfying. I'm glad to be able to put the time and $ into helping them - I'm big on quality of life and I know I've been able to improve their lives vastly. That feels good. And I love them a lot and enjoy getting to know them, discovering the things that are fun for them, seeing the ways in which they are still "young at heart." They give me great joy.

  2. Kathy makes an excellent point.

    I have always gotten so much enjoyment from watching the change in adult pets when they realize that they are safe, are going to have food on schedule, will always have someone come home to them, etc.

    Puppies that grow up with you get to take for granted that life has always been the way it is. Adopted adult animals seem truly grateful for a second chance. I feel good watching them learn to be happy, and watching them return to health is a pleasure.