When searching for a new canine companion, it’s easy to fall for the energy and adorableness of a puppy. But remember, youth comes with challenges—chewing, housebreaking and obedience training.
If you’re looking for a well-mannered mutt that still has a lot of love to give, consider taking home an older dog. In honor of Adopt a Senior Pet Month, which encourages the adoption of dogs age 7 or older each November, we’re sharing 10 reasons senior pets make wonderful additions to the family. Tracey Stewart, wife of comedian Jon Stewart and well-known animal lover, shares 10 tips from her new book Do Unto Animals.
She says many senior pets were raised in loving homes and have since lost their guardians due to divorce, illness, or death—none of which changed the love between them and their guardians. Seniors are simply looking to share their loving nature with a new family.
1. They come with few surprises. There’s no need to wonder how big they will grow, how often they will need to be groomed, or what their personality will be like. What you see is what you get!
2. Bye-bye, potty-training manuals! Seniors are likely to have already been house-trained—or if they haven’t been, they are physically and mentally ready to pick it up in no time.
3. It’s nice to say things just once. Seniors have been around humans long enough to understand our language. They often know what we are asking or can quickly learn to do as we ask. You can teach an old dog new tricks, and fast!
4. They fit right in. A senior dog or cat has been around the block a few times and has come into contact with many other dogs, cats, and people. Seniors usually know what it takes to effortlessly fit in with a family and can do it with ease.
5. You can relax! Unlike a puppy or kitten being introduced to a home, a senior animal usually isn’t constantly getting into trouble. You don’t have to puppy-proof or kitten-proof your house for months on end.
6. They enjoy brisk walks and don’t ask for much. Older dogs do not require being taken on three runs daily, and they will tire of playing fetch after a short while! Although they do need exercise, seniors are often fine with a nice walk in the morning, aside from potty breaks.
7. Your favorite new shoes will be safe from doggy damage. With their teething years behind them, destructive chewing is usually a thing of the past.
8. Age is just a number. Age doesn’t always mean health problems and expensive medical bills. Young animals can develop health issues as well, and medical bills are usually par for the course throughout an animal’s life. Each animal is an individual and deserves to be viewed without judgment.
9. They give your heartstrings an extra tug. There is something incredibly powerful about providing sanctuary, love, care,
snuggles, and ultimately peace to a senior pet in his or her final years.
10. Short but sweet time spent together. Kids go off to college, people retire, and situations change. Sometimes we might have a more limited period of time to devote to the care of a special animal. You can still benefit from the companionship of a super senior.