Is It Time to Adopt a Dog?

Dogs are often called our best friends, and for good reason. They are friends to us through thick and thin. Many seniors find that their golden years are even better for having a canine friend to share that time with.

There are many benefits to owning a dog as we get older, including being a friend and exercise. Dogs mold themselves to routine and in turn, people adapt their own routines to having a dog, which leads to a better life for everyone. Still, as with any relationship, there are many things that go into adopting a dog, whether it is a puppy or an adult dog.

What are some breeds that are good for seniors to adopt?

Some dogs are happy being couch potatoes with you, and others require a fair amount of exercise to stay out of trouble. A lot will depend upon the individual dog and the owner's lifestyle. Golden Retrievers are very popular with active seniors who want their dog to be gentle and have a sense of adventure. Other breeds, such as the Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, and King Charles Spaniel are small dogs requiring short walks, plenty of attention, and a lap to snuggle on.

What is the difference between adopting at a local shelter or with a rescue organization?

Typically, animal shelters are brick and mortar buildings where you spend some time with the dogs until you choose the right one. Some places will have a questionnaire to see which dog will be best. A rescue organization is usually run by volunteers, and the dogs are living in foster homes until they can be adopted. These families will usually know a lot about the dog's needs and temperament already.

If looking for a puppy, it may be harder to find at a rescue organziation than a shelter or from direct sellers. A lot of the dogs which end up at shelters are puppies which are purchased, and then quickly abandoned due to a lack of foresight and commitment as they grow up. There will often be lots of dogs turning up in the 8 to 14 month range, when they really are still puppies, but not the immediate youngest puppy possible. 

How much does it cost?

Adoption fees can vary significantly, from as low as $25 to over $100. Some rescue groups will waive adoption fees temporarily if they need to place more animals in homes. Puppies will often have higher adoption fees than older dogs, because they tend to be adopted much faster. If costs are a factor, then waiting until rescue groups offer rescue puppies for free may be the way to go. However, these times are often rare and it's more likely to find free older dogs than free puppies. 

What are some things I should ask before adopting a dog?

It's important to know about its history, any medical care it has received recently. Also ask if it has been adopted before and about any behavioral issues that may have been noticed. It is best to be informed about those before bringing the dog home because unexpected problems are the main reason people bring dogs back to the shelter.

What are some pros and cons of adopting a puppy?

Puppies are adorable, young, and do not usually have learned behaviors, good or bad. They are usually the first to be adopted in any shelter environment. Many pet stores offer puppies for sale. The downside is that sometimes these are supplied by puppy mills. Puppies from puppy mills can deal with a large amount of health issues as they grow. You can also adopt puppies directly from a breeder if the dog is purebred, so you can meet the dog's parents, ask questions of a breed expert and get a good idea of how large the puppy will grow up to be.

On the downside, puppies have a lot of energy, and they need to be trained, which can be overwhelming for first time owners. Some seniors have a hard time bending down to scrub up a mess during potty training. Also, a young puppy will be your beloved buddy for the next 12-15 years, and you want to consider your own health and future lifestyle before adopting.

What are some pros and cons of an adult dog?

Adult dogs have already learned a lot about people, and while they may know the important things like being house trained, others may have to unlearn behaviors caused by neglect or abuse. A loving, gentle home can give them a good start and a new chance at life. Many senior dogs are wonderful dogs who just need a new place to be loved, but like human seniors, they also may need frequent trips to the vet to manage health problems.

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