By Laura T. Coffey
Older dogs are wonderful. They’re calm, mellow, sweet, lovable, and they’re usually already house-trained. Yet, as fabulous as animals over the age of 7 are, they often represent the highest-risk population at shelters across the United States, where nearly 3 million dogs and cats are put down each year.
How can this be? Why is it that the most snuggly, tranquil, ideal companions are in this situation? For starters, this happens to most senior dogs by no fault of their own. Confronted with financial pressures, illness, or another life upheaval, animal owners suddenly may be unable to care for their pets. Then, once older animals land in shelters, they can get overlooked because people think it will be too sad to bring them home.
But wait! Not so fast! Our book, “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts,” provides overwhelming evidence that adopting a senior can be even more rewarding than choosing a younger dog. In fact, it’s likely to go down in history as one of the best things you’ve ever done.
Just ask Lori Fusaro, the photographer for “My Old Dog.” She used to think it would be too sad to adopt a senior — until the day she welcomed a sweet-natured 16-year-old dog named Sunny into her family. Sunny transformed almost immediately from a sad shelter dog to a happy, beaming family member, and she thrived for more than two and a half years in Lori’s care.
“Sunny showed her love for me every single time I came into the room,” Lori said. “It’s like she knew I rescued her.”
We’re so grateful to American Humane Association for launching a special initiative during the month of October — “Adopt-a-Dog Month®” — to spotlight the need to provide safe, loving homes for the thousands of older shelter pets. There are so many reasons why dogs over the age of 6 or 7 make ideal furry family members and friends:
- They tend to be less rambunctious than younger dogs.
- They’re a great fit for people with busy lifestyles.
- They’re so grateful for a second chance.
- They love you unconditionally.
- Did we mention that they’re often already house-trained? (Hooray!)
Please consider opening your home and your heart to an older dog. You’ll never, ever regret it.
Laura T. Coffey is the author of the bestselling book “My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts” and is a writer, editor, and producer for TODAY.com, the website of NBC’s TODAY show. You can learn more about her book at MyOldDogBook.com.