If you know my dog, Hope, you may not know about my love for senior dogs! Although my current dog mom duties include attempting to keep up with a young dog’s daily antics, there was a time when I enjoyed a much calmer pace of life.
When Ryan and I first moved in together, we adopted a senior dog, who also happened to be blind. Beamer (our blind dog) and Lucy (also a senior) enjoyed two long walks and a whole lot of lounging around our tiny apartment every day. They were very well-behaved and extremely loving. I still miss them.
We started fostering senior dogs when we moved to the Carolinas. Because the hubs was not thrilled about this, our third wheel fur-children needed to be on their best behavior. Without fail, each of our senior dog residents proved to be just as well-behaved yet entertaining as our original seniors. To this day, senior dog guests remain the easiest to welcome into our home.
“Senior” is a bit of a misnomer, because it refers to any dog over the age of 7. We know that a Chihuahua has a longer life expectancy than a Labrador does, but both are expected to live several years into senior-dom. The label of “senior” is therefore, not synonymous with geriatric. Despite misconceptions, seniors are not on their death beds. A senior dog still has a lot of love left to give and many adventures yet to live.
In addition to having their lives ahead of them, senior dogs are very good at being good dogs. They know what companionship is all about and do their best to transition into their new families with ease. In fact, senior dogs make very good companions for first-time dog parents. Their experience and forgiveness make raising canine a smoother ride.
While content with the little things, senior dogs are also still up for learning new tricks. I can’t tell you how many parents of older dogs try to convince me that their dogs are past their prime. My response is always this: “Is your dog alive?” If the answer is yes, then I guarantee you he’s hungry to learn. Just pull out a clicker and some treats and try to prove me wrong.
The best thing about senior dogs is something that, perhaps, is difficult to quantify. There is something about growing old that is inherently humbling, yet senior dogs handle getting older with such grace. I’ll never tire of the many lessons my dogs teach me, especially the ones lucky enough to be called “senior.” Those dogs know more about perseverance and gratitude than all others. And I, for one, don’t mind taking my cues from a wise old dog.