“Stump,” a 10-year-old Sussex Spaniel, won Best in Show this week at the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club championship. Stump is the oldest dog ever to amble away with top honors at the nation’s most prestigious dog show. The prior record-holder was an 8-year-old Papillon. Despite his age and a bacterial infection that nearly killed him in 2004, Stump is feeling fine and will spend the next year touring the country and making appearances as the nation’s top dog, after a trip home for some rest. In Stump’s honor, today’s blog celebrates all the great things about senior dogs.
1. Senior Dogs Have Been There, Done That.
A friend of mine likes to say, “Old dogs are your reward for putting up with a young dog for so many years.” It’s true: Senior dogs, if they were well socialized and properly exercised throughout life, have seen a little bit of everything. They’re not as likely to suffer separation anxiety or to fuss over strange objects seen on walks. They’re more likely to walk calmly through crowds and ignore distractions, and less likely to chase cats or squirrels. A well-trained senior dog is a joy to take anywhere, from family gatherings to the pet store to hotels.
2. Senior Dogs Make Great Companions for Senior Humans
If an elderly person in your life is considering adopting a new pet, a senior dog might be a perfect fit. Senior dogs are as loving and loyal as young dogs, but aren’t as likely to jump on a senior citizen and risk injuring them, nor do they need as much exercise as younger dogs. Senior dogs can generally live happily in apartments, sparing an elderly owner from the heartbreak of having to give their dog up if they must enter an assisted living facility. Many such facilities now permit dogs, so long as the dog is housebroken, well-behaved, and of a fairly small size. In addition, senior dogs are less likely to outlive their owners, which spares older owners from worrying about providing for a young dog in their last will and testament.
3. Years of Love and Fun
There was a time when dogs started out as puppies, grew into adults, and by the time they had some grey on their muzzles, it was probably about time to say goodbye. That day is long gone for owners who are willing to take a little extra time and spend a little money on preventive and reactive health care for dogs. With a good diet, proper dental hygiene, and vet care as necessary, many dogs live well into their golden years. If you adopt a senior dog today, you could have a wonderful companion for years to come, without all the stress that comes with a puppy.