Ziva and Tino share a warm bed

Consider an older dog when adopting!

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I've had many conversations over the years with other trainers about why dogs end up in shelters. Most often our conclusions are:

  1. The owner acquired a puppy and did not understand the commitment it would take to raise the puppy. The owner gave up at around 18 months of age because the now larger unruly adolescent dog is destructive, untrained, and more than the owner can handle


  1. The adult dog ends up in a shelter because the owner can no longer care for the dog due to a death in the family, change of income, change of environment, or something else beyond human control.

So, while that adolescent dog in the shelter may be the dog you lean toward because you believe that young dog will live longer, don't overlook that older dog! The young dog probably has some behavior issues that will need to be addressed and will likely require training and maybe even house training.

The older dog may simply be displaced from what was a stable loving home. I have experienced this first hand. I have several friends who make it their mission to adopt “the un-adoptable”. These are almost always old dogs. My friend Sally, gives these elderly 4-legged citizens love, comfort, shelter, appropriate exercise and good nutrition until they pass. Sally says she has always gotten more from these relationships than she gives, and although saying goodbye is hard, she believes her calling is to be open to the next senior who needs a home. My husband, Walt, and I have adopted for sanctuary a very senior dachshund named Tino. Tino came to us through a wonderful rescue group, Dallas - Fort Worth Dachshund Rescue. Rescue groups are usually unable to take in elderly dogs if there numbers are high since they are harder to adopt. Tino, had been owned by someone who either could no longer care for him or had passed leaving Tino homeless. Tino was quite elderly when he arrived into the system. The minute I met Tino, I knew what a wonderful boy he is. There is something about his wise expression that moved me.
We adopted Tino for sanctuary in June of 2019 when he was 12 years old. We believe he had been an only child before coming into the program and into our home. He was a bit stiff and moved much like a little old man. After only a few days joining our other three dachshunds, Tino had a new bounce in his step and was clearly enjoying the increase in activity in our home. Tino has formed an especially close bond to Ziva, our miniature wire haired girl who is about 2 years younger than him. He has also claimed me as his person, although he likes Walt as well.

Tino is now moving toward age 16. He has slowed slightly, but is still moving freely, wagging tail, chasing the other dogs and enjoying life. He is truly and easy keeper. We love him and are so happy that we opened our door and our hearts to this little man. Caring for an older dog requires some accommodations for age. Just like humans, elderly dogs may begin to loose eyesight, hearing, and may not be as good at holding their urine for long periods of time as when they were young. Anything you can do to ease their golden years is a gift to the dog. Consider offering the following:

  • brighter lights for navigation
  • non slip surfaces
  • a ramp or modified stairs for climbing steps
  • softer bedding
  • arthritis medicine, see your veterinarian
  • high quality food, perhaps soft food
  • appropriate activity to keep those old joints moving
  • frequent potty breaks
  • frequent nail trimming
  • keep the ears clean
  • plenty of cuddle and sleep time Consider that older dog! We are blessed that we did!

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