Reasons to adopt a senior dog
Some of you may remember my foster dog Dora, a 12+ year-old black Lab.
Busting that old girl from the pound was one of the most rewarding days of my life.
While I only had Dora for six weeks (she got adopted), she impacted my life in a positive way, and I still think about her.
Because I experienced such love and gratitude from Dora, I hope to eventually adopt a senior dog from a local shelter.
To help inspire myself and others, I reached out to three dog owners who have done just that – adopted senior dogs. I hope you enjoy their stories.
Tasha the German shepherd
Sarah Guffey adopted a senior shepherd named Tasha who was estimated to be about 9 at the time.
“I was in love! It didn’t matter that she was wobbly and a bit older,” Guffey said. “I wanted to offer an older dog someone to spend their golden years with full of belly scratches, car rides and a lot of love.”
“I was in love! It didn’t matter that she was wobbly and a bit older.”
Tasha had been considered a special-needs dog due to severe problems with her hips and knees, according to Guffey.
“We got her on two different twice-a-day medications, enrolled her in swim therapy and learned how to massage her knees and hips. She was like a new dog after about a month.”
Unfortunately, Tasha did pass away in August at the estimated age of 10.
“We had Tasha for just over a year at the time she passed and I wouldn’t change a second of it,” Guffey said.
“I wish more people would realize how lovely it is to give an older dog someone to love and somewhere to call home, even if it is for only a couple of years.”
Gentle Ben the collie
Gentle Ben was sick with pneumonia when a rescue group took him in, according to Marcia Bishoff, who later adopted him. She was somewhat surprised the rescue treated Ben due to his age (13) and likelihood of not surviving.
“I really like the old dogs and try to give them a good life at the end of their life.”
But Ben did survive, and Bishoff felt she could give him a good home for his last few months.
“I really like the old dogs and try to give them a good life at the end of their life,” she said.
She also knew she would be able to handle Ben’s lack of mobility and difficult getting up.
Gentle Ben’s health did decline, though. He started having mini “strokes” and about five weeks later Bishoff decided to have him “put to sleep.”
“At least he died adopted, not just fostered,” she said.
Jeb the black Labrador
Christy Nielson adopted 10-year-old Jeb from a family member who was going through a significant life change.
“We thought long and hard about whether we wanted another dog in our family,” Nielson said.
She considered how her first dog Kodi would react and whether adopting from a family member was a good idea.
“We don’t have forever with Jeb, so we don’t let a day go by without making the most of it.”
“In the end, we couldn’t help but help this sweet guy,” she said. “We like to say that Jeb has won the lottery for his retirement!”
Jeb, who is now 13, gets to enjoy a pool in the backyard. Nielson said this is “heaven for a water hound like Jeb!”
She also works from home so Jeb gets lots of company.
The two dogs have also bonded. Nielson said Jeb brings Kodi some maturity while Kodi keeps Jeb “young at heart.”
“We love that we can help make Jeb’s last years in this phase of life so comfortable and joyful,” she said. “We realize we don’t have forever with Jeb, so we don’t let a day go by without making the most of it – for us and for him.”
Encouraging others to adopt senior dogs
Here are some reasons these women recommend adopting a senior dog.
1. Seniors dogs have gone through the “problem” stages.
In addition to Gentle Ben, Bishoff also adopted a 9-year-old collie named Mercy and fostered a 10-year-old Sheltie.
The Sheltie already knew several tricks and walked well on a leash, she said. “It was fun discovering what it already knew.”
2. Senior dogs can make great pets for senior humans.
Some shelters have “seniors for seniors” adoption programs where “seniors” can adopt an older dog or cat at a reduced rate. The San Diego Humane Society offers free adoptions on senior animals to anyone ages 55 and up. Plus, its senior animals are just $25 for all other adopters.
Keoka (pictured) is an 11-year-old Pomeranian mix currently for adoption with the humane society.
Bishoff said to keep in mind that older dogs often need help getting up, so in some cases a small or medium dog may be more appropriate for older adopters.
I would add that this may be the case for younger people too. For example, I had a hard time lifting Dora up and down the stairs. She was 80 pounds and also needed help getting in the car.
3. You’re making a difference for a dog.
Guffey said she would like to encourage others to adopt older dogs because senior dogs are often overlooked.
Before she and her husband brought Tasha home, so many people would say things like, “Why not get a cute puppy who will do tricks and things?”
Instead, they adopted Tasha who was “the most amazing dog.”
“She was loyal, housebroken, and just so happy to have a little family that loved her,” Guffey said. “We miss her every single day.”
Would you ever adopt a senior dog?
Let me know in the comments!
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