How Old is Too Old?


As I type this, my husband and I are making big plans for the week ahead. Our dog, Bear, is turning 14. That’s 98 in human years.

Bear is chubby and hard of hearing. He has allergies and bad back legs and will wander out of the yard and all the way down the street if you turn your back for half a minute. I wouldn’t have him any other way.

The great canine truth is, there is no dog like an old dog.

Old dogs have lived a little. They don’t need the thrill of tearing your shoes apart; they’ve been there, done that. An old dog is happy to rest by your side and act interested in your boring stories and life problems.

If it sounds like I am trying to sell you on an old dog, that’s because I am.

November is “Adopt a Senior Dog Month.” Dogs are typically considered senior when they reach seven years. In the shelter world, potential adopters often consider dogs as young as four or five too old.

Too old for what?

Imagine if the shoe was on the other paw. What if dogs could reject us based on age? I was 40 when we first brought Bear home; I guess I would have never even gotten him into the car.

The great canine truth is, there is no dog like an old dog.

The fact is that would-be adopters worry they won’t have as many years with a senior dog.  They don’t want to get attached only to lose their beloved companion in just a few short years, or even less time. But do we really ever know how long we have with anyone?

When he was less than three months old, our Bear suffered the first of what have been many seizures. That first one was the most terrifying. I looked at that chubby little chocolate Labrador and wondered if this health issue meant we would not have him in our lives much longer. Here we are, 14 years later.

We have had some scares over the last year but somehow, this old guy always manages to rally and come back stronger. Sometimes I still look at him and wonder if we won’t have him in our lives much longer. The thought still breaks my heart as much as it did when he had those first seizures all those years ago.

You see, 14 years is not long enough with a dog. Forever would never be long enough with a faithful, true, loving companion. We never get that choice … with anyone we love.

Whether you adopt a dog that is eight weeks or eight years old, you can bet they will leave your life one day, and it will always be one day too soon. But, imagine what you might miss, no matter how short your time together.

If you truly want to rescue a dog, do it selflessly. Don’t let their age affect your decision. No matter how old any of us is, we all have that one basic need: to be loved.


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