Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blog the Change: Adopting an Adult Dog

I was planning to write about Dogs in Need of Space (DINOS) or the Yellow Dog Project and their work spreading knowledge about reactive dogs and other dogs who need space, but let's be honest--almost every post I have is about reactive dogs in some way, so I thought I'd switch things up a little bit and talk about another aspect of my relationship with Barley.

Everyone loves puppies. What's not to love? They're warm. They're snuggly and squirmy. They have those little round, baby fat tummies. They smell like happiness. It's hard to resist them. But shelters and rescue organizations are full of adult dogs who need homes.

Growing up, my family had adopted puppies. I had never really considered adopting an adult dog before. I'm not even sure that I realized that was an option for a long time, but eventually after I was out on my own, I started realizing that I had no idea how to take care of a puppy. The last puppy my family had came to our house when I was 12. I was not involved at all in the potty training process or teaching her not to chew furniture or even basic obedience. Without having someone else to help with training, I was pretty certain I couldn't handle a puppy, so I focused my entire search for a dog around adult dogs.

She's pretty sure she can be as silly as any puppy.

When I adopted Barley, she was already a year old. She was housebroken, she didn't chew inappropriate things, she walked nicely on a leash. Of course, we've had plenty of other issues to figure out: her energy, her reactivity, her fear of fireworks and children, so it would be untrue to say adopting an older dog was easy, but it was a much better choice for me than a puppy would have been.

So, if you're considering adding a new member to your family, here are a few reasons to consider adding an adult dog to your family:

  • They often already have basic obedience skills. Adult dogs find themselves at the shelter for a lot of different reasons. Some times, they are surrendered because their owners have lost their jobs or their homes and can no longer keep their dog. Some times, they belonged to someone who passed away and didn't have family members who could take them. Other times, they get lost and haven't been microchipped or don't have any way to find their original owners. Adult dogs have often spent a lot of time living as part of a family and are housebroken, know a few tricks, and have good manners when it comes to things like chewing and barking.
  • They are more independent. Certain breeds have a lot of energy regardless of age and need more stimulation than others, but adult dogs are more independent than puppies. They don't have to go outside quite as often, so if you do have to leave them for a longer period of time, you don't have to worry as much about coming home to accidents. If they've gotten a decent walk in, they can often entertain themselves for longer periods of time (or be content curling up at your feet while you're working at home). 
  • They have just as much love to give as a puppy does. Just because you haven't been there their whole lives doesn't mean that older dogs will love you any less. You often hear people talk about how their rescue dogs seem to know how lucky they are, so you might feel like your adopted adult dog even loves you more. Barley smothered me in kisses before we even left the shelter, but our bond has strengthened even more from that first day as we've worked together on our training.
Barley loves selfies with Aunt Linds!
There are plenty of other reasons to adopt an older dog, but ultimately, the right dog depends on your life and your family. 

If you're in the DC/NOVA area (or are up for a little road trip to get your new family member), you might want to consider a dog from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue (my nephew's mothership!)--like Cream!

My sister fostered Cream, a 1-year-old hound mix, for a few days before an adoption event and I fell in love with her. She's not right for my family because Barley wouldn't appreciate her enthusiasm, but she's perfect for somebody with a lot of energy and love (and toys) to give. 

Cream loved hiding in my sister's blinds. You can read more about her from my sister here and here.
Regardless of whether you adopt a puppy or an adult, from a shelter or a breeder, be sure that you do your research and have thought about how much time and energy you can devote to a dog. There are a lot of dogs out there with a lot of love to give, so there's no need to rush into bringing one into your home. Take your time to find the right dog for your family and we can reduce the number of adult dogs being surrendered to shelters.




10 comments:

  1. Wonderful advice on adult dog adoption! The number one excuse I hear from people about not adopting an adult dog is that they don't want a dog with issues. But your advice to take the time to find the right dog (ie one without "issues") is spot on!

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    1. Thanks! I definitely didn't follow my advice and fell in love with Barley at first sight and brought her home no questions asked--luckily, I have a very forgiving cat and found a great trainer to help me deal with the issues I wasn't expecting :)

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  2. Oh my gosh, I almost cried when I saw the shout out for my Cream pup! Thank you!! You know I have major love for adult dogs! :-)

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    1. You know I love that little Creamsicle! She's like a dog-friendly Barley, Jr.

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  3. This is an awesome post! Thank you! Both of my dogs were adopted as adults. Zoe was an easier one than Phoenix but I love them both so much!! :)

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    1. Thanks! Adult dogs are definitely just as lovable as puppies! My whole family has actually adopted adult dogs within the last 4 years and they are all very loved!

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  4. I never had dog and mot likely will never have one but I agree that old dog is sa cute as the puppies.
    Many people also say that Older turtles not as cute as the babies....I agree with that but old one has developed unique personality.

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    1. I think your turtles are beautiful! Even if the little ones are tiny and cute, they are gorgeous when they get bigger!

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  5. Excellent post. Our first dog was an adult, by choice. He wasn't adopted but we wanted an adult dog for all of the reasons you listed. Our kitty was an adult when we adopted her. Kittens are cute, but I lean toward adult cats when ever we have adopted. nothing wrong with an older pet. :)

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    1. My kitty was an adult when I adopted him, too! I've never spent much time around kittens, but I kitten sat for a co-worker a few weeks ago and I must say, it did give me kitten fever! I will probably end up with a kitten at some point in life, but I am not in any hurry!

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