Old Dogs Make Good Friends

Folks often remark to ABR how nice it is that we take in the senior dogs (dogs older than 7 or 8) and give them a chance at a new life with a responsible loving family. The truth is, however, we cringe every time we hear about a senior dog who needs our help. During very busy times these dogs may be let go – not because they don’t deserve our help as much as younger dogs! They DO deserve it. And it’s not because they wouldn’t be as good a companion as a younger dog — often they’d be much better. But we know that most people who come to rescue believe that they have to have a young dog. Senior dogs may stay in foster care for months, if not longer, and sometimes forever. That means that their foster home isn’t able to take in other dogs while they have this one. Foster homes are precious and taking in a senior may mean losing several others while that dog waits for a home.

Some of the most common concerns about not wanting to adopt a senior dog are:

They won’t live as long and I don’t want to go through the emotional turmoil so soon.

Maybe. Many of us have lost young dogs to illness or accident. There is no guarantee that your young dog will be with you for years either. But each dog that comes into our care can make happy memories for several years, and that’s a long time. If it’s a very senior dog, then we can be left with the wonderful memory that the last few years of their life were most likely the best they ever had. If you have ever owned a dog you know that the senior dog can still have lots of spunk, especially Brittanys who often don’t “slow down” until they’re 10 or 12 (if then). And think about it; if you lost your senior dog would you want it to end up with a group like ABR or with an organization that only rescues dogs under 3.

They won’t bond with the family.

This has simply not proved to be true. They do bond with the family, equally as strongly as a younger dog. In fact, most senior dogs seem to realize what a gift they’ve been given and are truly grateful for it.

They may have a dark past we don’t know about.

Actually, we don’t know about the past on the vast majority of dogs in our program which is why we get them into foster care where we can evaluate temperament and get a good feeling for what kind of environment would make the best match for a particular dog. Often a senior dog comes into our program because their owner has died or become unable to care for them. Many times they’ve lost a lifetime companion and are confused by what’s happened to their lives.

They may have age related health issues.

True, but many don’t, and these are issues that you will have to face at some point in time with any dog. Many of the treatments for the health related issues are not expensive and can maintain a good quality of life for a very long time and ABR has funds to help with health related issues for senior Britts.

The benefits to adopting an older Brittany are many:

  • You are not committing to 13-15 years. This can be appealing to the middle-aged baby boomer group, and the older adopter who is thinking about retirement and traveling. Some senior folks want a dog but are afraid that the dog will outlive them and then worries about what would happen to the dog. The senior dog can be the perfect answer.
  • By the same token – Brittanys DO live to be 13-15 years old, so if you take an 8 year old dog, it will probably have several years of love and companionship to give you.
  • They are calmer and not as wild as their younger counterparts.
  • If you are a first time Britt owner this can be a great way of “getting into the breed”.
  • Then, when you get your next, younger Brittany, you will know that indeed eventually, they do calm down.
  • They are appreciative. Say what you will – these dogs are very appreciative when they’re given new homes. The older dogs seem to know what they’ve been given and are grateful for it.
  • Even if they have been kennel dogs, they can transition into being house dogs. It is often much easier to house train an older dog than a young pup. Often an older dog will never have an accident in the house. Since ABR dogs are in foster care before being placed, they are already on their way to being housebroken or are already housebroken.
  • Giving a home to a Britt who has such a slim chance of getting one is a magnificent feeling!! There aren’t a lot of opportunities in life to get quite this good a feeling so here’s an opportunity of a lifetime.


One by one, they file past my cage Too old, too worn, too broken, no way Way past his time, he can’t run and play Then they shake their heads slowly and go on their way

A little old man, arthritic and sore It seems I am not wanted anymore I once had a home, I once had a bed A place that was warm, and where I was fed

Now my muzzle is gray, and my eyes slowly fail Who wants a dog so old and so frail? My family decided I didn’t belong I got in their way; my attitude was wrong

Whatever excuse they made in their head Can’t justify how they left me for dead Now I sit in this cage, where day after day The younger dogs all get adopted away

When I had almost come to the end of my rope You saw my face, and I finally had hope You saw through the gray and the legs bent with age And felt that I still had life beyond this cage

You took me home, gave me food and a bed And shared your own pillow with my poor tired head We snuggle and play and you talk to me low You love me so dearly, you want me to know

I may have lived most of my life with another But you outshine them with a love so much stronger And I promise to return all the love I can give To you, my dear person, as long as I live

I may be with you for a week or for years We will share many smiles, you will no doubt shed tears And when the time comes that God deems I must leave I know you will cry and your heart it will grieve

And when I arrive at the Bridge all brand new My thoughts and my heart will still be with you And I will brag to all that will hear Of the person who made my last days oh, so dear

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