Lease of life:

Think tak­ing in a dog in its later years is just not worth it? Well think again…

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - WORDS: Re­bekka O’Grady

Why adopt­ing an older dog could be a great thing

At five times the av­er­age age of a dog at Dogs Trust, the coun­try’s oldest res­cue dog Snowy caught the hearts of the na­tion when it was an­nounced ear­lier this year that he had been re­homed. The 20-year-old West High­land Ter­rier may have now found his for­ever home, but un­for­tu­nately there are many more dogs just like him wait­ing to be adopted.

For most po­ten­tial dog owners, the ini­tial choice is to adopt a younger four-legged friend or puppy, put off by older dogs and the po­ten­tial chal­lenges they may face. How­ever, as David McNaught from the Dogs Trust says, older dogs come with many pos­i­tives.

“We’re al­ways pro­mot­ing the adop­tion of older dogs. With an older dog a lot of the work has al­ready been done for you as op­posed to a puppy; they have per­son­al­ity and they’re house trained,” he says.

Older dogs of­ten come into the care of places like the Dogs Trust due to a change in their owner’s per­sonal cir­cum­stances. This could be that an owner has fallen ill and can no longer care for their pet, moved to a re­tire­ment or care home, or can­not af­ford to look after the dog any­more.

How­ever, some dogs could also be strays that have come in from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

“It can be re­ally re­ward­ing to adopt an older dog, as you’re giv­ing it another lease of life,” says David. “Some peo­ple do get wor­ried about be­com­ing emo­tion­ally at­tached as we don’t know quite how many years it has left, but you have to see it as their sec­ond chance to en­joy life. The dogs of course re­ceive great love and care when at the Dogs Trust, but noth­ing beats a real fam­ily home.”

If you’re wor­ried that per­haps you’re too old to adopt a dog, this is a per­cep­tion that the Trust are try­ing to break. David says that a lot of peo­ple think they won’t be able to care for a pet due to their own age, but some dogs don’t need that much ex­er­cise and are just look­ing for a com­pan­ion too.

“The same can’t be said for all though, you wouldn’t be­lieve the amount of en­ergy some dogs still have!” he adds with a laugh.

How­ever whether it’s an older dog or a puppy, the same rules still ap­ply – can you look after it and en­sure it has a for­ever home? We have all seen the ‘A Dog is For Life, Not Just for Christ­mas’ cam­paign, but this is a mes­sage that rings true all year around.

“You can’t be com­pla­cent when it comes to a dog and sadly we do have peaks and troughs in the year when we have dogs com­ing to us. It’s a cul­ture shock for peo­ple; a lot of owners don’t re­alise you are ac­tu­ally adding another mem­ber to your fam­ily. It can be ro­man­ti­cised get­ting a pet, but it’s a se­ri­ous de­ci­sion.” Dogs Trust North End Road Snet­ter­ton NR16 2LD 01953 498377

ABOVE: Shiloh, a Col­lie Cross, aged 13

BE­LOW: Mol­lie the Stafford­shire Bull Ter­rier, aged 10

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