The Benefits of Adopting Senior Dogs (and Cats)

When a family is thinking about bringing a new dog into their home, there are lots of things to consider. If the family has children, chances are they will ask for a puppy. Conversely, families without children may give some thought to finding an older dog.

The folks at the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society (MHHS) in Menands, NY would like to see more families in the Capital District adopt senior dogs. There are a lot of perks to owning a senior dog! It’s an idea that is gaining popularity for all the right reasons, according to Marguerite Pearson, MHHS Director of Marketing & Communications.

“In 2018 we re-homed 107 senior dogs, age seven and older,” she said. “Senior dogs are usually well socialized. They’re full grown and they are who they are. No surprises. You’ll learn their likes and dislikes right away.”

Some more advantages of adopting older dogs include:

1. No potty training needed

2. Usually obedience trained

3. Often kid-friendly

4. Very owner-friendly to someone unfamiliar with dogs

5. Not play-intensive or hyperactive

6. No need for puppy-proofing the home

7. They’re familiar with living in a home

8. They probably know how to walk on a leash

9. They require less of a commitment

10. You will be saving a life

Senior dogs still have a lot to offer!

I know firsthand how wonderful it is to adopt a senior dog. About 12 years ago when my daughter, Lily, was just 10 years old I made the short trip from Schodack to the Menands shelter to find a dog as a surprise for her. I knew I couldn’t handle a puppy or young dog because my work schedule was too demanding and too unpredictable. Walking past kennel after kennel, and reading each dog’s history was harder for me than I’d imagined. Many of the dogs looked sad, lonely and confused. My heart especially went out to the Pit Bulls who stood in their kennels trembling.

At the end of the aisle was “Sadie,” a nine-year-old black mixed breed who looked like a cross between a Border Collie and a Greyhound. Her muzzle was white as were the lines around her beautiful brown eyes. She didn’t immediately get off her hammock to greet me. It took some soothing words and coaxing before she came up to my extended hand.

Sadie had been surrendered by her original owner who no longer had space for her. I couldn’t understand why someone would just get rid of a pet who had relied on them for close to a decade for reasons of space constraints. It made no sense.

I asked to take her for a walk outdoors and was accompanied by a member of the shelter staff. She assured me that Sadie was well-behaved and good with cats. Then she told me the shelter offered reduced adoption fees on older pets to help them find homes more quickly.

The decision was a no-brainer for me. I wanted to bring this seemingly gentle lady home with me. So I filled out the paperwork, paid the small adoption fee and walked her out to my car. When we got to a grassy spot near my car she immediately started to gleefully roll around on the ground, as if to say “I’m so glad I’m going home!”

And when I opened the back door of the car she quickly jumped in and made herself comfortable on the rear bench seat, making sure to leave enough room next to her for me to sit down. I laughed in amazement at her good manners and told her I had to sit in the front to drive.

Even when she got home with me and  came in the house for the first time she was equally polite in everything she did. Her good manners never wavered the entire time she lived with us. For instance, she would wait patiently at dinnertime for the cats to have their dishes filled first. And she was a great playmate to my daughter, although she did break free of her leash one time to chase a rabbit, but who could blame her.

Sadie was a wonderful pet and went on to live to be 16 years old before we lost her to old age. I never regretted my decision to adopt an older dog.

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