The Plight of the Older Dog
By Corina Jorgensen
Charity associations, local societies like the SPA and others face the thankless task to rescue and take care of unwanted and abused dogs and cats which they then desperately try to re-home. It’s a well known fact that they operate on modest budgets and need donations and volunteers to help out.
Luckily many of these animals do find a new home but not all of them. Cute little puppies and kittens or small dogs are generally much in favour. This becomes worse for dogs not only when they are older, let’s say more than 5 years old, but also if they are a larger size dog, chances for adoption then become slim.
Why is this? What’s wrong with them? Are they not lovable, not healthy or unattractive? I believe it stems from a certain mindset that younger animals are “better”. However, I think that there are important benefits for choosing an older dog. He or she will most probably be house trained and well passed their first (destructive) year when the pup has to learn everything. (For instance not to chew up your new shoes). Very important you see already how the dog behaves because its character is formed: is it quiet and friendly?, obedient?, perhaps used to other dogs or cats? Their medical history is known. These things are important to see if the dog will fit into your life or not.
A case in point is my story about Sammie. On a Saturday, the local SPA held a so-called “open door” inside a shopping mall. The volunteers had set up a low fenced pen for their kittens much to the delight of children wanting to pet them. But they also had brought with them 4 dogs which were separately held on a leash. One of them was Sammie, dropped at the SPA when she was 6 years old. In spite of being a beautiful but larger dog, much loved by the staff, no one had come forward to adopt her for more than 2 years. She belonged to a breed called Gascony Blue, an ancient French hound bred to hunt wolves in the Pyrenees in the old days. These dogs have a fawn tri-coloured short haired coat, a long tail and a square muzzle with impressive long floppy ears. In spite of being known as pack hounds they do turn out to be docile and lovable family dogs.
When I bent down to stroke Sammie, she looked up and hopefully wagged her tail. I took her home and never regretted my on the spot decision. She lived to be 15 and in fact we still miss her. She was a lovely dog, very gentle, smart, obedient, clean and a non-barker! When we were out with her for her much loved “walkies”, invariably people would stop to admire her, even asking all kind of questions. And this was the dog no one wanted?
Therefore, if you are considering to have a dog in your life, do not overlook an older or larger one, they are so much worth it and do deserve a good home for the rest of their lives.
Sammie came from SPA, Marsac sur l'Isle (Dordogne), phone 0553.041654 from 2-6pm
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