Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Seniors for Seniors - The Mature Dog-Person Connection

Dogs are adaptable creatures, but that doesn't mean that any dog can be matched to just anyone for the perfect fit. Just like person-to-person relationships, dog-to-person relationships require a meshing of personalities and learning styles.

I think back to when my grandparents brought home a new puppy years ago and the challenges they had trying to get it to adapt to their routine. To be fair, they went in with the best intentions, but that puppy wanted to do things its way (ie, running around all the time, always being under foot, needing to go outside frequently to relieve itself when it wasn't making on the floor, etc.)

A couple of weeks in and my mother ended up taking the puppy and while it wasn't the smoothest of transitions it all worked out in the end. Through training and socializing her with our older dog, the puppy made it and was just one of a couple dogs that reached their senior years under our roof.

Had everyone realized it at the time, the perfect dog for my grandparents would have been a senior. We all know puppies are cute, but unlike grand-kids who run around  all day at their grandparent's house, an adopted puppy is home and requires a lot more attention than an older dog.  

I know with my seniors of the canine variety, sometimes I'm more likely to encourage them to go for that last walk of the night than they are to ask for it. Even then it's usually just a quick tinkle and back we go. 

Playing? Many senior dogs just want to snuggle and be pet gently instead of the rough housing that they were more accustomed to in their youth. I have a number of folks in my neighborhood who take their older dogs to the park with them and they will play the occasional game of fetch, but more often it's all about finding a nice shady spot under a grove of trees and enjoying a warm breeze on a summer's day. 

If you're an older person or couple, or know of some that are looking for some canine companionship, I'd encourage you to check out your local shelters or rescues to see if they have Senior for Seniors programs. These usually entails matching older animals (over 7 years old) with more mature people (over 60) at a reduced adoption cost.