| When you’ve decided to add a pet to
your family, don’t automatically set your mind on a cute cuddly puppy.
Although a youngster may offer more of a clean slate than the sometimes
sadder-but-wiser older dog, a grown animal actually offers many advantages,
especially for those of us with lives too busy to devote to housetraining and
raising a youngster properly. An English cocker is one of the many breeds that
are adaptable enough to easily switch their affections. In fact, if you believe
that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, you can be
certain it’s doubly true for the EC. A few tasty treats and regular meals for
a few days, and anyone who didn’t know better would be certain that your new
pet was an old family member.
Sometimes older dogs will fare better around children than a young puppy
who might be more rambunctious and harm a child without meaning to, as well as
being large enough to romp and play with kids without being hurt itself. An
older pet is an excellent choice for senior citizens, who may not have the
energy, ability or desire to keep up with a younger puppy. Older pets have the
added advantage of possibly being housetrained already, and even if they aren’t,
their potty needs will be far less frequent than a puppy who has to ‘go’
every half hour…and rarely makes it to where they’re supposed to be when
they do it. Another plus is the animal is old enough to be spayed or neutered,
which can usually be done before it comes home with you.
As for the fear that the new pet won’t bond with you? Forget it! If
anything I believe (from dozens of first hand experiences) that a pet adopted
as an oldster appreciates your care and becomes even more devoted…after all,
he likely knows what not having people to love him is like.
As with choosing a baby puppy, take your time and do your homework. Find
out as much about the prospective adoptee as possible. If it’s a younger dog,
make sure it’s already it’s adult size, and if not, make sure you can
handle it when it’s full-grown. Don’t let your heart make a decision that
your mind won’t be able to live with. A pet is a long-term commitment. Give
it the consideration it deserves.
Adult dogs can come from many sources—shelters, private parties,
classifieds, or breed-rescue groups. Many breeders will offer their retired
champions to pet homes, as well as older puppies they’ve kept as show
prospects that didn’t work out for one reason or another. In both cases,
their loss is your gain.
Dogs of all ages become available for adoption for other reasons ranging
from the sad (death), to the uneducated ("he sheds", "he needs
too much attention", "he is too expensive"), to the ridiculous
("he no longer matches our home décor", "he isn’t cute and
cuddly any more, we want a new kitten/puppy"). We live in a disposable
society where everything from diapers to razor blades are made for a one-time
use. Sadly, this thinking goes beyond the department store and into the mind of
many uneducated or irresponsible prospective pet owners. Because all puppies
are cute, people easily forget to think about what they’re going to have when
that sweet little cuddly ball of fur becomes an adult. When little Fluffy
becomes too big, too active, or too dominant or too hyper because of a lack of
training, or simply when the novelty of owning a pet wears off, these owners
take the easy way out and dump it at the local shelter (or even worse, in the
countryside), driving away complacently believing that their castoff will find
a new home. Although sadly that is rarely the case, and very few abandoned pets
actually do find homes, you’ll find it more rewarding than you could ever
imagine to give one of these deserted pets a new chance at life.
Why take a chance on an older pet? Because it’s the right thing to do.
And because he may be perfect for you and your family, giving you many years of
devotion and love. And because counting a pet out because he may have a couple
less years to spend with you isn’t fair to you…or to him.
Nick Knack Paddywack, give an older dog a home!