by Soojin Um
When most people plan to get a dog, they invariably think puppies. Even if one is adopting a dog from a shelter, people still go for the puppies. No one can blame them really. If you’re going to invest your heart and soul into raising a dog, you want your life together to be as long as possible. There’s also something about puppies that make people melt. Sadly, that also means there are many adoptable older dogs that go unnoticed and unwanted. However, it doesn’t always have to be that way.
There are many reasons why having an older dog may be advantageous. For example, a lot of people seeking to adopt don’t necessarily want surprises, and older dogs can be the perfect solution. An adult dog has gone through the growing pains of puppyhood. Generally, what you see is what you get. That can be a tremendous help to a new dog owner, particularly if they’ve never owned pets before or if it’s been a long time since they last had a dog. With older dogs, you can gauge fairly accurately what a particular dog is like from spending just a few minutes with them. With puppies, it’s difficult to form a real bond right away, but with an older dog, an instant connection can be just a serendipitous eye contact away.
One common misconception about older dogs up for adoption is: they must have behavioral problems, and that must be why the previous owners gave them up. While that may be occasionally true, in a great majority of the cases, these dogs are victims of circumstance. The reasons can vary greatly, from owners who never realized that it takes effort to raise a dog, to dogs whose owners have passed away and were left homeless. Some people will have a dog when single, but then later get married or have children who have allergies. Further still, some people may become physically or financially unable to take care of a dog anymore, such as a senior citizen who has to go into nursing care. People in those cases will give up their dogs so that they have a chance to find a new owner that can provide the love and care they deserve. Those cases are especially heartbreaking. In adopting and loving those dogs, you could be the answer to their prayers and a saving angel to those dogs.
Also, the flip side of that is: older dogs could be perfect for older people. Many seniors used to have dogs. As they got older, they may have decided that raising another dog is out of the question for them. Who has the energy to deal with puppies and young adulthood? Training puppies require a lot of time and effort, and on top of that, they also require plenty of exercise. Seniors may not have that kind of energy and mobility. However, they still love dogs and miss being around them, so what to do? Older dogs could be the solution. Older dogs are calmer and less energetic, they also require less exercise, and they just want to relax with those they love. It seems older people and older dogs share the same goals. Perhaps they could share their lives together as well.
Even if these reasons don’t apply, it doesn’t mean adopting older dogs should be ruled out. These dogs deserve love too. It’s not their fault that they’re in the situation that they are in. They’re housebroken, they know basic commands, and they usually have a calm, friendly demeanor. Those are qualities that all dog owners love. There’s also one last thing to consider: puppies are great, we all love puppies, but puppyhood only lasts a year. After a year, they’re full grown. Puppyhood is a fantastic, wonderful thing, but it should not preclude you from considering adoption of an adult dog. But there is hope. Attitudes are slowly starting to change, and more and more people are starting to give these wonderful older dogs a chance to start anew in a loving home.
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