Why should you consider opening your heart and home to an older dog?
There are many benefits to adopting a senior – here is one member’s story.
Ah, puppies. Soft, warm, roly-poly. Who doesn’t love a good whiff of “puppy breath”? Get a little too close to that mouth and you’ll experience the razor-sharp teeth as the puppy explores your nose! Then, the playful swat with those pointy toenails across your cheek, the potty break on your clean floor, the endless training to “come!”, well, you get the picture. So cute, but oh, soooo much work!
As a person who has been owned by Weimaraners for the better part of 18 years, I have experienced these beautiful animals at every stage. I’ve gotten a puppy at eight weeks, adopted two five-year-olds and later, adopted eight- and ten-year-olds. The puppy won our hearts immediately and was a joy to us until her untimely death at seven. The older dogs each took their own time adapting to life in our household, some fit right in, others took awhile to feel comfortable. Once they were settled though, well, the relief just poured out of them. They were loved, fed, had warm, soft spots to sleep and the contentment showed on their faces.
All of the Weimie personality quirks were there, but the sometimes intense Weimie energy had waned. Perhaps it is because I have somehow gotten older and slower, but I really don’t miss the challenges presented by young, physically-strong, energetic, job- needing dogs anymore. Give me a sweet, grey-muzzled Weim who still likes to kick up game but is only interested in chasing it about 50 feet. Our girls (Jewell, 10 and Sheena, 12 – adopted at eight and 10) are both eager to go for walks and are playful, but they also appreciate a good nap in the middle of the day (in the middle of the bed, but that’s another story…).
I learned from our experience with our puppy that nobody is guaranteed a long life. We were all cheated out of at least five to seven years together. In choosing to adopt mature dogs (the ones nobody wants because they are “too old”), the time I do have with them is especially precious. Of course, I always plan on my dogs making it in to the record books for longest life, but the reality is I may only have them four or five years. They do not realize this and make the most of each day, so I follow their lead.
We take walks and they don’t drag me down the street. They chase bunnies and birds, but give up way before they get to the neighbor’s property line. They follow me around and are happy just laying at my feet when I’m working. They do quirky things like carry their food bowls around and grab my shirt/socks/shoe to sleep with in their beds (without chewing them up!!!). Jewell pushes herself up against the back of the couch seat and looks just like a person sitting there. Sheena lays on the floor, crosses her feet and cocks her head to listen to my every word. At least once a day they crack me up with some Weim-type antic.
In return for all of this entertainment, they eat extra-good food and see the vet proactively to keep them at top health for as long as possible. They have shiny coats and excellent immune systems. They see a vet who does chiropractic work to keep them moving well. Record books, here we come!
And yes, it is hard to say goodbye whether you’ve had a dog a day or 15 years. Grief is never easy or over soon enough. However, an unwanted dog will, perhaps for the first time, know love, safety and contentment in its final years because you had the courage to face that grief on its behalf.
Truthfully, there is nothing like the kind of appreciation you can only get from a “too old” dog saved from death in a shelter. The good years older dogs have with the right owner may be fewer than the ones they’ve already lived, but they are the ones that count the most.