Adopting Senior Dogs

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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White Muzzles:

When I walk through any animal shelter I will usually see several older senior dogs. Frequently senior dogs are passed over while puppies and younger dogs are chosen for adoption instead of the older dogs. The white muzzle seniors then wait and hope someone will one day claim them before their time runs out. Seniors dogs don’t last long in some shelters that are kill shelters. 

Disposable Society: 

Sadly we humans have evolved into a disposable society but that should not apply to senior dogs. Just because a dog is old does not mean it has outlived its usefulness. It has been our experience that adopting an older dog has rewards that those who have given them up will never realize. They can offer a new family devotion and love beyond measure. Sure, they are at the end of their days but they still have much to contribute to a family.  

Some Escape Bad Circumstances: 

At least three of our rescues were previously kept outside with one being picked up as a stray, another kept in a kennel outside and the other surrendered to us due to an encounter with a bear. The reasons are different why dogs suddenly find themselves homeless or given away. Having our dogs inside with us enables us to fully appreciate their personalities, their conduct and helps us help them adjust to better behaviors. Kept outside they are not given the opportunity to be fully appreciated because of limited interaction.  

Shelters Shouldn’t Be The Final Destination For Old Dogs: 

Older dogs languish in shelters sometimes for years while young dogs are adopted more rapidly. We have in the past few years adopted two senior dogs ourselves. One was 8 years old (see photos) and one is 11 years old. There is nothing more satisfying to me than adopting an older dog. They have often given up hope of ever finding a home and you can see them dejectedly in their confinement at a shelter. They often come trained which makes acclimation into a new family easier for the adopter. 

Not Wanting The Pain Of loss: 

Probably the most common reason people don’t adopt an older dog is that they know they will just get attached and the dog will die since they have a shorter time to live and they don’t want to suffer the pain/grief over the loss. That is a valid consideration but compassion for the dog is also a consideration. Many senior dogs have come from unfavorable circumstances and to give the dog a loving home in its final days is compassionate. Yes, there will be pain when that dog dies but there will also be satisfaction of making a difference in that dog’s final time on earth. 

Adopted Older Dogs Are Extremely Grateful: 

In my opinion there is no price that can be put on adopting a senior dog because it would be priceless. Any love you can give them will come right back to you multiplied several times over. Senior dogs sometimes do have health issues but with proper treatment and care and plenty of love it will generally extend their lives. A senior dog which has languished in a shelter and lost hope will love his new family with a depth of love and devotion that is indescribable. When I look into a senior dog’s eyes what I see is a devotion and love beyond measure. I have never met a person who couldn’t use a little more love. 

Personal Experience: 

We just adopted another senior dog that is estimated to be around 11 years old. She came with some health issues that we will work on having resolved. Our most recent adopted – Ruby – is apparently deaf which makes her adjustment more difficult. We are helping her adapt through the use of hand signals since voice commands are of little use. She is now adjusting admirably.  To have her healthy and around for a few more years is well worth the veterinarian cost. Her final time will be much happier in a healthy state than if she were left in the shelter.  

Organizations That Helps Old Dogs Find New Homes: 

We found Ruby through an organization that originated in Maine and has expanded to New Mexico and Colorado. They promote senior dogs and try to find them a forever home by working with shelters. This organization is Old Dogs New Digs and their website can be found at the end of this blog. 

There are other advocate groups for senior dogs that facilitate getting senior dogs into new homes but this group reaches across state lines using media. If your area shelter is interested in having them help with senior dogs I suggest going on their web page and reading about what they do and then contact them. 

Putting Others Ahead Of Self: 

I personally believe that having a senior dog before you adopt a younger dog can be time saving when it comes to training. Older dogs tend to mentor young dogs and teach them lessons they will need. I have watched our senior dogs somehow communicate with younger dogs and while I have no clue how they do it, the younger dog seems to always get the message. Any expectations that I have had when adopting a senior dog are always consistently exceeded.

Giving An Older Dog Another Chance At Life: 

An older dog can enrich your life in special ways plus their love/devotion for being rescued seems never ending. The attached photos of Bozley and Ruby reveal just how much they love. The reader can discern for themselves what that look represents but what I see is love and devotion. It is my opinion that we live in a time where we are categorized by our ethnicity, religion, sex or politics and I would prefer to be categorized as the man who gives senior dogs a loving home and spoils them rotten. That is a category I believe has virtue, not separation and division. 

Old Dogs New Digs:

For more on Bruce and Carol and their two senior dogs, Bozwell and Ruby, go to their personal blog site at:

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