May 20, 2019 5 min read

Senior dogs have more spunk, loyalty, and love to give to their humans then they are often given credit for. Not only do they make just as lovable companions as their puppy counterparts, but they are often much easier to integrate into your home and family. From potty training to knowing personality types, senior pets are guaranteed to make a much easier transition into the home that is just right for their already established needs. Think adopting a senior dog is right for you? Then there is no better time to consider adoption than this November, during Adopt a Senior Pet Month!

My Story

My story on adopting a senior dog wasn’t as cookie-cutter as you might think. When I knew that I was ready for another dog, I immediately looked into rescue options. My first dog was a rescue and I really wanted to welcome my home to another one. With that being said, my first rescue was only 4 months old when I adopted him. So, the thought of adopting a senior dog had never really crossed my mind before.

Seeing Onyx for the First Time

While falling through the proverbial rabbit hole of rescue organizations that piqued my interest, I came across Onyx. I was immediately hooked when I saw that extremely sweet looking 7-year-old pup’s face on her rescue’s website. However, I still had the same apprehensions as many people do when it comes to adopting a senior dog. I was concerned about her ability to get along with my 3.5-year-old male dog, I was worried about her not accepting us as her family since she had spent most of her life in a rescue, and I was very uneasy about her age. We only get a very short amount of time with our dogs. Why on earth would I want to potentially cut that short time in half by adopting a senior dog?

All of those concerns didn’t just disappear the first time that I saw Onyx’s picture. I was still very nervous and even talked myself completely out of the idea of applying to adopt her. I thought the cards were just too stacked against me, and I decided to plan on getting a puppy instead. My first dog was a puppy when I adopted him and he turned out great. So, I thought that sticking with the more familiar territory was the better way to go. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Seeing Onyx Again, One Year Later

Fast forward to almost a year to the day that I saw Onyx for the first time. It was almost time for the pup that I planned on getting to be born, and I somehow found myself down the same rabbit hole from a year prior. I don’t know how, but I stumbled upon her picture yet again and I knew it was a sign.

There she was, a year later and still not adopted. All I could think was, “how on earth has this sweet angel still not found a home? She is beautiful and clearly has a very sweet disposition.” That’s when it hit me; the reason why she probably hadn’t been adopted yet, is the same reason that I passed up on applying to adopt her a year ago. Too old.

I’m sure that there were a number of people just like me. People who saw her, and quickly passed her up once they noticed her birth year. That realization was enough to make me tear up.

It wasn’t long after seeing her again, that I decided against getting the puppy and applied to adopt Onyx. Altogether, it was about a 3-month-long process. One that included countless interviews, home checks, behavioral assessments on my current dog, and even vet and personal reference checks to ensure that my current dog was being well cared for. There was no stone left unturned, which made a lot of the apprehensions from before almost disappear. They didn’t want to dump this dog on just anyone, they wanted her to find the perfect home and family.

Welcome to the Family

Getting the call that I was approved to adopt Onyx was some of the happiest news of my life. I could hardly contain my excitement, but there was still one very important step before she could stay with us. She still had to make a 20-hour car ride from Texas to Ohio and get along with my first dog, Cas (dun, dun, DUN).

There were so many scenarios going through my head. I was worried that Cas would be too overzealous for her since she was double his age. I thought he would act out and bully her since he was used to being the "only child." By far, my biggest fear was that she would just flat out not like us at all.

Fortunately, all of those fears virtually disappeared once she arrived. Introductions went seamlessly, and she seemed very at ease almost instantaneously. The President and Adoption Coordinator from her rescue were the ones who transported her. They even stayed for days in order to help with the introductions and ensure that she was well-acclimated. That extra time and care put into working with us really made all the difference in how well Onyx adjusted.

To learn more about the wonderful rescue that put so much care into ensuring that Onyx was placed in the perfect home to fit her needs, visit Texas Wolfdog Project.

Looking Back on Our Journey

So why was my story such a success? There were a number of factors that contributed to the success of my senior dog adoption. Some of those factors being out of my control, but most were in both my and her rescue’s hands.

Because Onyx spent most of her life in a rescue, her behavioral traits and quirks were very apparent. They knew every tendency, every fear, what dog personality types she got along with best, and any naughty predispositions that I should consider. Since she was 7-years-old, her personality was already very well-developed, which left little room for surprises (unlike young puppies).

This made it much easier to integrate Onyx into life in our home. That’s not to say that every dog you try to pair together based on personality type will work out (if that were true, then we would see many more successful marriages come out of, but it does make it a lot easier to predict. See here for more on the benefits of adopting a dog.

Being a young professional with not a lot of free time on my hands, I couldn’t imagine a better fit for my current situation than adopting a senior dog. While there was still a bit of a transition period, adopting Onyx was so much less of a headache than raising a puppy was. I shudder at the thought of going through the puppy stage again. Overall, it was much more rewarding to add another furry family member to our pack, all while giving a lovable senior dog another chance to have a real family for the rest of her life.

Celebrate Adopt a Senior Pet Month the Right Way!

If adopting a senior dog sounds right for you and your needs, but don’t know where to go, visit the ASPCA Shelter Locator to find the perfect pup at a shelter in your area! Make your own senior dog adoption success story, and share it with us on Facebook!