Forget about animal welfare; adopting an old dog is one of the most selfish decisions you can make. It’s so simple. One day you have no pets, and you’re happy. The next day, you have an old dog, and you’re still happy. The rest of your life is exactly the same, now with all of the benefits of unconditional love.
Let’s contrast that last scenario to that of getting a puppy. When you bring a young dog into your home, you effectively say goodbye to uninterrupted sleep, clean carpet, anything wooden, anything soft, anything leather that you might have owned. Those are the givens. The training is the variable. Will you spend your hard-earned money on professional dog trainers? Will you read all the books and attempt it yourself? Will you do nothing and let this wild beast take over your house and home? How will you find the time to go home from work to let the puppy out midday for the next 6 months?
I’m tired just re-reading that. Friends, there is another way. You might have heard about someone adopting an older dog and thought: “Wow, what a good person.” They aren’t good people. They’re selfish. They want to be loved unconditionally and do as little work as possible in return.
Imagine coming home from work to a dog who didn’t mind that you were gone for the whole work day. Not only did they not mind, they didn’t even notice. They’re still taking the nap they were taking when you left in the morning. Imagine a dog who doesn’t maul your guests when they walk in the door. They’ve already been around the block a time or two and don’t care to waste energy jumping on every new person they meet. Instead, your old dog calmly approaches and politely leans against your guest’s leg requesting a simple ear scratch. Like a civilized being. Secure in who they are.
Imagine your vintage rugs and Portuguese linen bedding retaining their urine-free scent over the life of your pet. Imagine your expensive antique wooden armchairs being respected for the fine pieces of history that they are. Your old dog slept in a concrete alley behind a greasy restaurant for months, years. He slept with one eye open. He knows what it’s like on those streets. Old dogs appreciate the memory foam bed you bought for them and don’t get any ideas about rubbing their fur all over the rest of your things. They know how good they have it. Puppies, on the other hand, just want more, more, more. They’re insatiable heathens with nothing with which to compare their current luxury.
Your old dog learned in the school of hard knocks how to get by. He traveled down The Road without that old grocery cart. Just the fur on his back. He’s a minimalist. He doesn’t ask for much. The basics. You thought it might be nice to have a dog around. Someone to keep you company when you’re up late working. Inspiration to get outside and see the sunrise. Not a 10 mile run, just the sunrise and a quick leg stretch around the block. You thought it might be fun to take a dog to the beer garden where everyone else has a dog. This is a transactional relationship.
Let’s go back to the commonly held belief that people who adopt older dogs are good people. I would counter that selfish people not only know how to be lazy, but also how to be patted on the back for doing so. The amount of positive feedback you will receive for adopting an older dog will astound you. You need to do almost no other good deed in life. Your friends and family will have cemented in their minds their eternal goodwill towards you. Evidenced by the graying face of your hound, your reputation will precede you. All you need to do, Mother Teresa, is to casually slip into the conversation the age of your dog and then the date you adopted him.
Sometimes everybody wins.