The Joy of Adopting an Older Pet

By Judy Layne

Welcoming an older pet into your home is a heartwarming and rewarding experience.  Just ask Jenn Purdy.  In April, her family adopted a senior dog from the Nova Scotia SPCA named Beau.  Roguishly handsome and charming, Beau was aptly named.

Purdy wasn’t looking to adopt a pet when she visited the SPCA shelter; she was there as a volunteer dog walker.  She saw Beau’s picture on the wall and was drawn to his big smile.  “I was impressed with his wonderful calm demeanor and how well he behaved on his walk,” says Purdy.  “When I learned he was compatible with younger children, I knew I had to take this fellow home.”  

Beau’s age was estimated between 5 and 7 years and Purdy considered this a plus. They previously adopted two older dogs and knew that senior pets offer many advantages. Unlike puppies who will go through developmental changes, “they’re fully matured with established temperaments, so you’ll know if they’re a good fit for your family” relates Purdy. Also, “there’s no complaints about skipping the chewing, up-all-night phase and housebreaking associated with young dogs.”

Like other senior pets who have learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of a pack,  Beau promptly settled into his new home.  “He found his bed, new toys and favorite spots very quickly,” says Purdy.  “The kids loved him right away and he took to them immediately too.  His first family photo looks like he’s been here forever.” 

While senior pets still need regular exercise and playtime, they’re not as high-energy as younger pets and are often content taking it easy.  Beau, for instance, loves swimming and walking the Sackville Lake Trails.  He also enjoys cuddling and “is a 50 pound lap dog”, states Purdy.  

Who says you can’t teach an older dog new tricks?  Senior dogs are just as smart as younger ones. In fact, they’re easier to train because they’re calmer and have a greater attention span.  Beau is a prime example of a clever canine.  “He quickly mastered shake a paw, lie down, sit and stay,” reports Purdy.  “We enrolled Beau in beginner training classes to deepen the bond between us.”  When the instructor recognized how smart Beau was, she suggested moving to the advanced class where Beau readily grasped complicated commands. “Beau loves practicing with everyone in the house and is eager to please.”

Beau so impressed his trainers they suggested he could make a great therapy dog.  Through Therapeutic Paws of Canada, Purdy and Beau volunteer at a facility serving residents with disabilities.  Beau adores ‘going to work’ with his mom.  “When I take his official kerchief out of the closet, he gets super excited and can’t wait to go.” How fitting that a dog whose own story has a happy ending goes on to make others happy.

When you look into the wise worldly eyes of a rescued senior pet, you’ll see an animal who understands and appreciates that they’ve been given a second chance at happiness. Purdy sums it up succinctly.  “Older animals deserve a life filled with love.”  Please consider opening your heart and home to a senior pet.  You’ll be rewarded with a love as unconditional as it is enduring.  

Judy Layne

Judy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-mama to Gracie. She is committed to speaking for animals who cannot speak for themselves.