The case for adopting a senior dog


November is adopt a Senior Pet Month.

Let’s celebrate our senior pets. They bring so very much to our lives. While the AVMA generally considers a senior pet to be around 7 years old, this varies by breed. Smaller breeds age more slowly than do larger and giant breeds of dog. You can refer to this article to learn more about how pets age.

Often, families take a pass on adopting a senior pet because they are concerned about having a much shorter time with their family than if they adopt a puppy or younger dog. Oh, but what you’ll miss out on! We adopted Benji when he was about 2, still a young dog, but a senior within 5 years. Benji lived to be 22 years old, a ripe old 168 in dog years. He was by no means ‘done’ when he turned 7. He was just hitting his stride and what Benji brought to our family in the 15 years after he turned 7 was beyond treasure!

We don’t know how long any pet will be with us. We do know that a well cared for, well-loved pet can live well beyond expectations and be such a fulfilling experience for their families for a very long time. I wouldn’t want to miss that, would you?

Still not sure? Let’s take a look at the benefits of bringing a senior dog into your family and into your hearts.

This is your chance to be a hero!

You can’t go into an animal shelter anywhere in the country and not find many senior pets available for adoption. It’s easy to imagine that there’s something ‘wrong’ with the animal. If you look into the story of each dog, that will rarely be the case.

People seem to treat their pets as ‘disposable’. When it is no longer convenient for them, they will take the pet to the animal control service in their area thinking that the pet will be easily adopted. That is simply not the case. Senior pets, according the ASCPA are euthanized at a much higher rate. It’s heartbreaking.

Why would a senior pet be in a shelter? Oh so many reasons! People move and choose to not bring the pet with them. They take a new job and no longer have time to care for the pet. The dog may have gotten much bigger than they anticipated. Their family may have had health or financial issues. There are so many reasons that have nothing to do with the pet!

It is amazing how few people really research dog breeds! Certain breeds just have specific behaviors that are part of the breed. An Australian Shepherd will herd. It’s what they do! And whether the herd is sheep or children, they WILL herd. Just a hint – Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, St. Bernards get BIG! Some breeds have strong personalities.

Some families are under the impression that new baby in the family means the dog must go. We ran into this issue in our house. I adopted a Labradoodle named Andy. Oh, how I loved that dog! I adopted Andy from a family who had small children. Apparently the toddlers did not play nicely with Andy and he snapped at them a few times. As a parent, I can certainly understand the concern, so I was happy to bring Andy home with me. And yes, he charged at kids and was not a ‘kid friendly’ dog. We knew going into it. He proved it. But at the time I did not have a small child at home and wasn’t expecting one so it wasn’t a problem.  We knew to not walk him when kids were coming to or from school. However, the second we found out that we would be having Jack, I knew that Andy would need a different home and we gave ourselves the time to find a great guy who needed a running buddy. Andy was perfect for him. I miss Andy every day, but it was the right decision for everybody. Dogs and children must be trained. Most of the time, the dog becomes the baby’s protector and best buddy. Benji was velcro-dog when my kids were sick!

There are so many senior dogs at the shelters hoping to be adopted. Take your time as you go through the rows of dogs. Senior pets are likely to be more quiet and depressed in the kennels. Many have known the love of a family and are confused. They don’t know what they did wrong to be there. They miss their family. The shelter is cold, noisy and they are scared. Take the time for your family to be with the dog and interact. Not all dogs are a fit for all families, but find the right one to join your family, you will save a life and be a hero. The rewards will be infinite! You will have the loyalty and love of a dog who knows just how lucky you all are.

Senior dogs have settled down

It’s just part of the aging process. Labs are known to be rambunctious bundles of energy for a good two years. And how many shoes do you really want to lose to a puppy? Senior dogs have settled down. They are more calm and sedate. Don’t get me wrong, most will still love a good run, to play and they can still be lovable goofballs. They just know more when to play and have fun and when to just hang out with you.  They love to just relax on your lap while you enjoy your morning coffee.

They are instant companions

Most of the senior dogs in shelters have been pets before. They want desperately to have a family to love again. They know the ropes. They know how to be part of a family and are anxious to share snuggles, hugs, licks, tail wags, walks, naps, and years of love with you.

There are fewer surprises

Senior dogs have grown up.  You know how big they will get.  You know, in general, their temperament.  Often, you can find out about their history.  It’s astounding how many dogs are in the shelter because they grew much bigger than the family anticipated.   With a senior dog, you can tell if you’ll have a running buddy or couch potato pooch.  You can tell if they fit the personality of your family.  You can tell if they are child friendly dogs or if an adult-only house would be better.  If you have other dogs, youi can have time to find out if they are a pack dog or if they should be the only pet in the house.  If you have a cat in your house, you will often be able to  know if the dog is good around cats.

Shhhh!  It’s a secret!

You can teach an old(er) dog new tricks.  Senior dogs are anxious to please you.  They are smart.  Many have already been trained in basic obedience commands.  Give it a shot.  You never know what else your dog will pick up.


So why wouldn’t you adopt a Senior Dog?

The shelters are full of adoptable senior dogs just waiting and hoping to find a family to love again.  There are so many reasons why they are a great addition to your family.  Take the time to see who’s waiting to love you.  Be a hero!  Save a precious life and bring a lovable senior dog home to share a lifetime of love in November and throughout the year.

Here’s where you can find a senior dog for your family:

  • Your local Animal Control Service.  This is generally operated by your city.
  • Your local Humane Society.
  • Local rescue agencies such as San Antonio Pets Alive.
  • Most breeds have a dedicated rescue organization.

And when you do, come back and tell us your story!  Share your family pictures.  We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

Wishing you the best from Benji’s Best!

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2 thoughts on “The case for adopting a senior dog”

  1. Tim says:

    That is some enlightening information on older dogs. Most people truly believe thay can not learn anything else. But I agree with you. Wow! Benji looks like a big dog and lived 22 years. Now that’s a well taken care of dog. Thanks for the article. God Bless!

    1. admin says:

      Thank you for taking time to stop by and share your thoughts. Feel free to share this site with others who may be considering adopting a dog for their family. All the best! Christine

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