English Cocker Spaniels

An Online Owners Guide




Adopting an Older Dog

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!