An Older Pet Might Be a Better Option
Updated: Apr 21
After my eldest dog, Bear passed, many people asked if I would get a new dog. I still have two dogs at home, and having a third dog does add quite a bit to the mix, but I am a lover of dogs, so I will keep my eyes open for my next pooch. Several of my HHS work associates would come to my office and say, “We have a litter of puppies that just came in; are you interested?” My response has always been the same. “No, I don’t feel my wife and I can handle a puppy at our age.” Not that we are that old, but we are in our sixties, and chasing after a puppy full of energy and in need of housebreaking doesn’t sound like something we are prepared to embrace at this stage in our lives. As well, I’m not sure how my dogs Max and Bentley would react to a puppy. They are older and love to sleep more than they like to play.
People who are considering getting a new pet should think about how a puppy or kitten may impede their lifestyle. The better choice might be an older, housebroken, less energetic pet that loves to snuggle and not play their every waking moment.
I have talked with many older folks who really wanted to adopt a puppy. We do not discriminate, so if a 92 and 94-year-old couple wishes to adopt a Great Dane puppy, we will not stop them; however, we will discuss the possible outcomes if they do adopt the large breed dog. Things like, who will walk the dog once it’s fully grown and weighs 120 lbs? What if the dog falls ill and needs to be placed into a vehicle? Who will lift it? Who will clean up after the dog? A large dog makes lots of large poops every day.
There are solutions for almost every question. Professional pet sitters can be hired to walk any size dog, pick up after the dog, give meds to a pet, etc. This solution comes at a cost. Many older retired people have disposable income for services like this, but many do not. Many are on fixed incomes and rely on the kindness of neighbors and family for help when needed. They need to consider how their decision to get a new pet may impact others, especially if they are a puppy or a kitten.
Some older people don’t want a more senior pet because they don’t want to outlive the animal. They are afraid the animal will die, and they do not wish to go through that sorrow. Unfortunately, young pets die too. A friend of mine just lost their two-year-old Golden Retriever to cancer. Avoiding sadness should be a desire, not a requirement. Setting the right expectation is vital to making the right decisions. All animals can get ill and require medical attention. Just because it’s a puppy or a kitten doesn’t mean it is invincible. Realizing any pet will have medical needs and thus the cost of veterinary care, is essential when deciding to get a pet.
Many cats live to be twenty years or more, so a ten-year-old cat could very well be in your life for another ten years or longer. Most dogs live to be twelve to fifteen years, so plan on a commitment of about fourteen years minus the dogs’ or cats’ current age.
I adopted both my dogs when they were older. Max when he was about a year old, and Bentley, we think, was five years old when we adopted him. My wife and I both appreciated not having to deal with housebreaking, chewed-up shoes and furniture, obedience training, and more. If we adopt a new dog, it will be a dog of at least 4-years or older. Maybe an older dog or cat would be a better solution for you too? Perhaps let the young families with small children adopt the puppies and kittens. They deserve to learn the hard way, just like we did. Many older animals have been abandoned and need a new forever home. Make one of these animals your new best friend. Adopt, don’t shop, and put a sparkle in the eye of a homeless animal today.