The Joy of Living With a Senior Dog

 

the joy of living with a senior dog

I have been making a list of all the topics I was planning on writing about on this site, and was suddenly struck by this incredible sadness. Every single topic was about a health problem – arthritis, cancer,  kidney failure, dementia, vision loss and the list went on and on. I started to ask myself if this was what a senior dog’s life boiled down to.

Of course it isn’t!

Yes I will be writing about health topics, they are issues many senior dogs face, mine included. I won’t be addressing them in this post though!  I have always, and will continue to focus on the keeping an older dog comfortablejoy of being able to give a dog a comfortable place to lay his head, in the last years, months or weeks of life.

You know what the joys are for me? I can’t think of many greater feelings than caring for dogs who were cruelly dumped at the end of their lives. It is impossible for me to convey the depth of emotion I experience when I save an older dog’s life, when I go to the shelter and pick up a dog who would have died alone, in a scary and unfamiliar environment. 

I love when my dogs sit next to me on the couch as I read a book, or snuggle up with each other – giving and getting comfort when needed.

Just like dogs of every age, my oldies are so happy to see me (those who can!) if I’ve been out for a while, and although they’re left in very comfortable surroundings, you can see how much safer they feel when I’m around. 

In addition to all that, I also like lower energy dogs. Of course they all need time outside to sniff and explore, and to walk at whatever pace is comfortable for them, and that’s perfect for me. I solving pain and mobility issues in old dogsdon’t want to have to hike miles every day in order to satisfy their needs. If I want to take that hike periodically, and would like the company of one of my dogs as I do it, I get out the pet stroller and off we go together. 

So yes, while there may or may not be health challenges in your dog’s life, showing kindness and compassion to these wonderful creatures who brought so much joy into our lives, over the years, is what it’s all about.

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Hindy Pearson
Helping people care for their senior dogs
I am a certified dog trainer and pet care consultant, specialising in working with rescue dogs and first time pet parents. I foster and adopt senior and special needs dogs, and advocate for shelter adoption of all animals, particularly older dogs and cats. I am currently working on a spay/neuter program in Spain.

13 Comments

  1. Samantha

    What an uplifting thing to read, thank you! When I was in the process of adopting my own dog, I was saddened at how many senior dogs were left to languish with their foster parents while the younger dogs were adopted like hotcakes. But then I spoke with one of those foster parents, and she didn’t mind at all! She loved being able to be part of these dogs’ lives and make them comfortable.

    It’s great to have a reminder that life with a dog is about much, much more than the cute puppy stage.

    Reply
  2. dannyboy

    Really really good! and makes me want to cry, unfortunately I cant help all those poor little souls but its great to come across with people like you that also want to give and help out this world full of unfairness, really good post, I will stay in touch and keep up the good work

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks, makes me want to cry sometimes too, knowing I can’t do more. Nothing I love more than caring for senior dogs. I guess you can say it’s something I was meant to do. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Reply
  3. Lynne

    What a great post. I loved my dogs in their old age, they were such quiet and calm animals in their later years. They were both Labradors so incredibly excitable and energetic in their puppy and younger years. Yes I loved the young stage too, but what a lot of work keeping up with them. In their older years they were so much calmer and it was nice to spend such quiet time with them.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Lynne, I know what you mean. Nothing cuter than a puppy, or a kitten, but I would much rather adopt the seniors because most people don’t want them. It makes me feel good to give these unwanted animals a home, and I agree with you, I like the quieter pace.

      Reply
  4. Theresa

    Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I commend you for volunteering and for taking in senior dogs from the shelter and loving them as part of your family. It’s sad that too many people do not care for these animals and “throw them away”. Certainly not how I want to be treated when I become a senior.

    A very personal and great website!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Theresa, Thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts, and I appreciate your kind words. It always broke my heart when people would glance into the room where they lived at the shelter, then go off and find the puppies. The worst was when staff would say “oh those are the old dogs” – never talking about the benefits of adopting one of them. The reason I’m so driven to succeed here at WA is so I can open my home to more seniors. Never ceases to amaze me when people comment that I have a senior dog. I want to ask them what they do with their dogs when they get old.

      Reply
  5. Dogs Review

    Gorgeous! Reading this has really made my day!

    At the minute our family situation and home life is more suited to higher energy dogs. But we’ve had older rescues in the past (no doubt we will again) and found it to be so rewarding!

    It’s heartbreaking only having a short time with them, but such I nice feeling knowing that regardless of where they started out, and whatever happened to them before, they have a safe, comfortable home to live out the rest of their days.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hello and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s so nice for me to hear you’ve had older dogs, and even nicer to hear they were rescues. It definitely is heartbreaking to have them for less time than you would like but I agree with you – it is a wonderful feeling, knowing you gave them a home in the end. I appreciate hearing your story.

      Reply
  6. PLH

    Hi Hindy,
    I wish dogs could live longer. It seem like you just get them trained and they are perfect and you have to say goodbye. My older dogs were calm and quite and seemed to read my mind and I theirs. They are sourly missed.
    Maybe people don’t want older dogs because they don’t want to loose them so soon.

    Pat

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Pat, Couldn’t agree with you more. They leave us way too soon, especially when you adopt them when they’re older. You just know you loved and cared for them, and gave them a great life. I wish that was the reason people don’t want older dogs, but I don’t believe it. I suppose it could be true in some cases, but I’m not as optimistic as you.

      Reply
  7. Chastity

    Hi Hindy,

    I love your concept for caring for senior dogs. It is definitely not the norm! It’s a terrible thing people take elderly dogs to the shelters because of the expense to take care of them. I have 2 dogs and both are seniors. One is about 14-15 and the other is right behind her by a year or two. Unfortunately my mom had the first dogs sister and had to put her t sleep recently. She had a heart condition and was put on oxygen, but wasn’t improving.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Chastity, I think you’re right, it’s not the norm! It seems that too often once a dog gets old they’re either dumped, or not paid much attention to. Instead of thinking there’s a problem, many people assume it’s a normal sign of aging. How wonderful your dogs are enjoying their years with you, in a loving home. They’re very lucky. I’m sorry to hear about your mom’s dog, I know how hard it is to say goodbye. There’s nothing anyone can say that will make her feel better, but if you’ve done a good job of caring for them, and gave them a happy life, it’s all good.

      Reply

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