Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Old Dogs Are Cool Too!

Hi everyone! I am having a pretty good day. I volunteered at the pet rescue organization that I usually volunteer with on Saturdays. We bring all the dogs to PetSmart, and as a "handler" my job is to take the dog I am assigned to and spend the day with him, taking care of him and trying to get people to be interested in adopting him.

The dog I had today was Rickles. I've had him before... The only not so great thing about Rickles is that he does not like other dogs, which means I have to work really hard to keep him away from all of the other dogs, which also means Rickles and I are pretty much alone for the day. But he is a really sweet dog. 
Rickles!!! I got this photo off of the rescue organization website. He
looks sort of like a human here, doesn't he? 
Rickles is a rat terrier who is about 11 or 12 years. old. For an old dude, he has a lot of energy, though! While we were there, PetSmart had a bin of leftover Halloween dog toys that they were selling for a dollar each, so I bought Rickles a squeaky stuffed rat... seeing as how he's a rat terrier and all. He really liked it. I entertained him a lot of the time by throwing the rat to him so he could catch it in his mouth. He also liked shaking it, nibbling on it, pawing at it like he was trying to bury it in the cement, sitting on it, and carrying it around! He was like, "This is my rat!" His foster mom (which is what we call the people who take care of them in their own houses, in order to keep them from having to stay in a kennel, until they find a real home) says he loves to play with balls too! He runs, walks, jumps, and does everything a younger dog does. 

But the fact that he is a senior dog, added to the fact that he doesn't get along with other dogs, makes people not look at him for very long. People who would consider adopting him tend to be dog lovers who want to rescue him but already have other dogs of their own, and that wouldn't work so well! What Rickles really needs is a person or couple (with no children, or older children, because he gets a little cranky and wouldn't be able to put up with the rough play and shenanigans of small children) with no other pets, who wants to totally spoil Rickles for the rest of his life! 

There is one thing that really causes people to shy away from adopting an older dog. People think that they are signing up for a dog that is just going to pass away soon, and they don't want that heartbreak. 
But the thing is, all dogs live much shorter lives than we do. We all know that, whenever we get a dog, we are going to say goodbye someday. And we never know when. One of my childhood dogs died of cancer when she was only 6 years old! It is inevitable. 

So why do we bother to get dogs at all? Because, for those of us who love dogs, the feeling of having a dog as a member of your family is priceless. We know about the very special love between a human and a dog. And we cannot live without it. Senior dogs deserve that human-dog bond too, don't they? Just because they cannot give us as many years as a younger dog can, doesn't mean that we can't give them as many years as possible of being a happy, pampered, beloved pet!

In order to help Rickles and other dogs like him find homes, I thought I'd do some research and find out what the benefits of adopting a senior citizen dogs are. Here's what I learned...

Senior dogs have usually already been trained! This means they won't chew up your things or pee and poo in your house like a puppy or untrained younger dog might. Senior dogs have been around long enough to learn. (On the other hand, some senior dogs may have trouble physically controlling their bladders... but this issue can easily be solved with a belly band, which is like a diaper that wraps around the dog's waist.) 

Senior dogs are often calmer than younger dogs. Rickles does have a lot of energy for a 12-year-old dog, but he is definitely calmer than most rat terriers you might meet. Many senior dogs are low maintenance dogs who don't need as many or as long of walks and don't need to be entertained as much. This can be great for people who don't have as much energy themselves, such as older people, people with fibromyalgia, or anyone who envisions enjoying quiet evenings with their dog relaxing by a fire (or the TV) and being mellow. 

Senior dogs are loving and devoted. Most senior dogs have already experienced living in a home and being someone's dog... only to lose their beloved home and family for some reason. Sometimes the owner of the dog got too old or too ill to care for the dog, or sometimes the owners just decided to "get rid of" their dog when they went through life changes such as moving or getting married. Either way, the senior dog knows what he is missing. So when he finds himself in a comfy home with a loving owner once again, he is very grateful, and will be your loyal best friend!

Senior dogs make themselves at home! Puppies and younger dogs may have trouble adjusting to a new home. They might go crazy exploring your house, chew up whatever they can find, escape from the backyard or sneak out the front door a few times, and test the limits however they can... just like human children do! Senior dogs are like, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" They are more experienced at living as household members, and will quickly blend themselves into your home and routine. 

You know what you're getting! When you adopt a puppy or younger dog, their personality and temperament is still developing. But with a senior dog, the organization caring for the dog will already know a lot about the dog, including his personality, whether he barks a lot, whether he is good with other dogs or with children, etc. You can be more sure that the dog you are adopting is a perfect match for you.

They can learn new things! It is definitely possible to teach an old dog new tricks. In fact, sometimes it is easier, because the dog already understands the basic concept that you want him to do something, and that if he does it he will get something good. Puppies and younger dogs can be like, "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? JUST GIVE ME THE TREAT!!!!" You can even get creative with what you teach an old dog. For instance, because they are older and experienced, and often love human attention, they can become great therapy dogs! 

The cost is often lower! Because rescue organizations know that senior dogs have a more difficult time finding homes, they try to sweeten the deal by making the cost of adoption much lower. Rickles's adoption cost is $75, versus the cost of $290 for a younger dog or $390 for a puppy. 

Hey, want to know something neat? I just found out that November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month! I totally didn't know that.

If you live in the Chicago area and you think Rickles sounds like a great dog for you, you could get in touch with Almost Home Foundation or email his foster mom at

If you live somewhere else, but you feel like adopting a senior dog would be a great thing for you to do, here is a way to start finding your perfect match. Go to In the green search bar at the top of the page, fill in the city and state you live in, select the type of pet you want, and then, in the :"Age" box, select "Senior." They will show you all of the senior pets that need homes in your area! You can also specify the breed and gender of your ideal dog. 

Good luck! Rickles and  the other dogs will thank you! 


  1. Rickles is a cutie! We adopted our second dog in July. He's not exactly a senior dog, but the vet estimated him to be roughly 4 years old. He's a much easier dog than our almost 2 year old dog that we raised from puppyhood!

  2. Thanks for helping Rickles find a family. I also volunteer with a rescue group and have attended those same type of adoption events. It is so rewarding when a dog you've spent time with ends up finding their forever home.


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