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Senior Love

For Brody, who is 72 years old, her adoption of a puppy was something that she put a lot of thought into. Her first column (a must-read one) about young Max generated more reader comments than anything she had written before—and she has been writing this column since 1976!

Many of the comments came from older people who had adopted dogs, and one, from a retired judge, was especially poignant:

“At age 85, I begged my wife like a 7-year-old to let me have a dog,” he wrote. “We acquired a rescue dog we’ve since learned is a Lhasa Apso. If I leave him for a moment to take out the garbage, he greets me as though I had been at sea for years. None of my children ever demonstrated such love. Without him, I would just be some old guy walking the streets, but everybody stops me to pet him, ask his breed, and just be friendly.

“If I were in my 20s, I think I would be getting marriage proposals just because of him. Dog-owning has its burdens, as you’ve stated, but of all the decisions I have made in this life, next to marrying my wife, this was the very best.”

Brody also points out that having a puppy, especially as a senior, can also be challenging, especially during the housebreaking stage, and while the health and social benefits are easily touted, as she did so well in the first column, there can be the “burdens” as well. Wisely one of her readers chastised her for not suggesting that “older people opt for a dog who is already housebroken.”

I would like to suggest that a senior might a senior dog. I know that there are shelters that provide this kind of service, matching a senior with a senior, and offering discounted adoption fees too. Does your shelter have similar programs?


Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and editor in chief. thebark.com


CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Elizabeth Karan | May 17 2014 |

We lost our 13 year old female German Shepherd about a year ago. I am ready for another dog. My partner isn't. I keep wishing someone would just bring us a dog we would both fall in love with as I know if there was one he would love it, but I can't adopt without his being good with the idea and his consent. Any suggestions?

Submitted by Carolyn | May 19 2014 |

Elizabeth, we euthanized our beloved 12 year old dog to finally end her suffering of CHF. A month later we adopted a 2 yr old rescue dog. Were we ready? No, not really, and it was definitely an adjustment. We wanted to do it before we could find too many reasons not to. It has been so worthwhile. Two other couples we are close friends with lost their elderly dogs about the same time we did and like you, only one of each couple is "ready" and now 2 years have gone by. My argument is, life is short, dogs' lives are shorter. Like the song says: Live, Love, Laugh and Be Happy. That song must have been written with dogs in mind. Don't miss out!

Submitted by robin | May 17 2014 |

In our neck of the woods (Cleveland OH) we have a Sanctuary for Senior Dogs that focuses on adopting those who are older.
As a social worker with older adults over 20 years, I can tell you that those people I have seen who have pets seem to be more engaged than others. The emotional support in face of inevitable losses is priceless, and poop scooping is a small price to pay.
On a personal note, as someone getting older, I have spent over the past 12 hours in bed with a migraine. My little one was beside me the entire time; while I got her out for quick potty breaks several times, and she had access to food and water, she quietly stayed beside me. Who else would do that?

Submitted by Chantelle | May 23 2014 |

At the Austin Animal Center, we have an amazing program that promotes the adoption of senior pets. It's called Classic Canines of Austin (https://www.facebook.com/ClassicCaninesATX), and its team does a stellar job of pairing mature pets with all types of families.

Submitted by Pat Stanton | May 27 2014 |

In Northern California, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue has a program for senior citizens and urges seniors to adopt a senior dog. There's no fee over the age of 62! http://www.muttville.org/seniors_for_seniors

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