Adopting a Senior Dog.

Updated on April 04, 2013
J.D. asks from Edison, NJ
11 answers

To give a little back ground, I applied to a Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue here in NJ. I fell in love with this dog as a child and now that I am able to take on the responsibility of a pet, this is the breed I want. So its been a looooong process with the adoption and I finally was approved. I have a 5 (soon to be 6) year old at home. Its just the 2 of us. I originally wanted a younger dog so that he could grow with us. Right now the rescue only has a few dogs and there is a senior dog, soon to be 10, that is great with kids. When I had originally visited the website I fell in love with his face. He looks so sweet. My only concern was his age. Normally, Ridgebacks live till around 12. I feel like this would break our hearts too near in the future. BUT on the other hand, we could give him all our love and affection and a home and make his last few years good ones. Another concern of mine is my son. I'm a little nervous about bringing a fully grown dog around my son and I think he may even be nervous as well. I dont want to frighten my son, of course. I also realize that since this dog is older, that his temperament has been established. I still get worried bc he is a larger dog. He weighs around 100 lbs. The rescue says that he is still very active. SO...I really would like some advice from people with experience with rescues and adoption. ANY advice really. I am planning on visiting this dog in the near future to see how my son interacts with him. To check out the vibe between us 3 =) Thank you so much in advance. Im a wreck thinking about it.

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answers from New York on

If you all get along, please take him home. No one ever wants older,dogs. To me they are great! He will be so lucky to live out his life with you. I so hope it all works out for you.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I am a RR breeder in Wisconsin. Thank you for considering the adoption of an older dog!!

Yes, the average life span of our breed is 12. However, a dog that is 10 and still described as active could potentially live another 4-5 years. Even if that is not the case, the love you can provide that dog, & he in return, will be worth whatever time God grants you.

Each dog's activity is different. Some dogs jump & other dogs dash. Some just have energy for activities, others are like puppies - always on the go.

Given the size of the dog and your son's young(er) age, I would talk frankly with the rescue coordinator and get more information about the dog. Let them know what your experience is with dogs, as well as your sons. Ask them what the dog has been exposed to and how he reacted.

If possible, ask if you could arrange a meeting to see him in person with your son, and gauge the interaction.

One thing RR rescue does NOT ever want is to place a dog in a home that is not suitable. I am appreciative of your wanting to make sure it is a good fit. Almost all RR rescues are in-home fostered so that a true evaluation of their activity, temperament & health can be made before placement.

Truly, no one on this site can tell you if it will be a good fit or not. But asking the right questions & communicating with the rescue as much as possible is the best guarantee you can make.

Feel free to PM me with any additional questions regarding Rhodesian Ridgebacks, they are an awesome breed, & I am happy to help! Also, my website is in my profile with my contact information.

Oluchi Rhodesians

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answers from Atlanta on

I have no information about that specific breed, but I do have a ton of information about rescues and adopting, since all of my pets are adopted and I have worked in animal rescue for years now, and been an officer of an animal rescue for the last several years. If you have any specific questions, please send me a private message and I would be happy to chat with you in depth.

General advice: absolutely make sure you meet the dog with your son, get a feel for the dog, for the energy level, your son's reactions, everything. Ask a ton of questions about the dog of the rescue. If the dog is in foster, make sure you speak personally with the foster (ideally, meet the dog in its foster home at first). Invite the rescue into your home and talk about potential problems and hazards. It's a really good sign that the rescue thinks this dog is good with children, but ask how they've reached that conclusion.

I also have information about adopting senior dogs. The most recent dog my family adopted was a senior dog - a nine(ish)-year-old Fox Terrier. We lost her this past August, right before celebrating her fourth anniversary with our family. It was very hard to say good-bye. I cried a lot. But I also have a lot of satisfaction, knowing that the last years of her life were the BEST years of her life. Go into this experience knowing that the dog is older and won't be around much longer. You aren't guaranteed a future with any dog - you might adopt a 3-year-old dog that'll get cancer the next year and only last two years in your home, too. It isn't about the quantity of time you have with this animal, it's about the quality.

My little older dog was a total sweetheart. Although we have two younger dogs (both also rescues), neither of those dogs have any interest in our children. They don't want to play or cuddle with the kids - they are my dogs and my husband's dogs, and they want to play and cuddle with us. That's just who they are: great dogs, not ideal family dogs. Our senior dog didn't really know how to play, but she was a great cuddler, and her patience with the kids far surpassed mine. ^_^

This dog may not be right for your family, but I hope you won't let his age dissuade you. Meet the dog, get to know him for who he is, and then make a decision based on that. Best of luck to you, and congratulations for choosing adoption. It's a very rewarding experience.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

Honestly when adopting dogs ( i have adopted two) I really didnt think of age. When I got Bear he was older. He only lived with me for a little over a year. My son at the time was 3 and it was amazing. I did explain from the beginning that he was old and that our job was to make the last of his days perfect. My son totally understood and loved him very very much. When his time came... Yes we mourned him and barried him in the yard.

My son was always around dogs though. We had a rotty (recently put her down, she was really old and could no longer move eat, and she couldn't feel when she had to potty(rescued her off the side of the road) my mother has labs that she breeds, and I have always had larger dogs.

Maybe you can take your son there to meet him to see how they would like eachother. Most people will think the same thing as you and he will not get adopted. It breaks my heart to see people turn down a good dog because of age.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I think it is great that you are willing to adopt an older dog. I always feel so bad for them when we stop by and drop supplies off at the shelter.
They deserve to be loved and spoiled all of their life-not dumped off.

Best wishes!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Checking out the vibe between the 3 of you is the absolute best way to go...and then take it from there.

You would be dealing with the death of a pet sooner rather than later with his age and all, so that is a bit of a concern...although it could be a good teaching/learning opportunity for your son... we all need to learn how to cope and deal with death at some point.

I do agree it would be wonderful to fill this dog's last few years with love and a nice comfy home!

~I also love the way the Rhodesian Ridgeback looks...they are such a handsome breed of dog! I say just follow your will know what the right thing is after you feel the vibe when you are all together!

I imagine the rescue group would not place the dog with a family with young kids if they knew the dog was not compatible, ya know? I am sure he has been fully evaluated!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

If you fit together, go for it! You never know how much time you have with a pet. Crazy things pop up all the time and take them away from us much too soon. I think you should absolutely consider giving him wonderful "golden years." And from the cold, heartless is a good way to have a "trial run" at owning a dog, particularly this breed, without committing to 12-15 years.
My first dog as an adult was an amazing Neapolitan Mastiff that we adopted as an adult. The former owner misrepresented her age to us and told us she was 2.5 years old. She was really 7. We only had her for 2 years before she passed away from cancer, but she was so wonderful, I wouldn't trade those 2 years for anything! And when she did finally pass away, it was in my arms and not in a kennel somewhere.

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answers from Columbus on

I would say meet him and see how it goes before deciding. That is awesome to adopt an older dog. I agree it could be 2-6 years, you never know. It will be hard to say goodbye no matter when. I'm sure he has been vet checked and you ask to see records or talk to the vet about his age. I'm sure if in greet goes well he will be a great addition. Moat rescues are good about take the time fi find a good match. Also you may want to make sure his.coat dies not bother your skin, I know they are breed where the short hair sometimes.bothers me. They are such great dogs, I hope either this one is a great fit or you find one that is.

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answers from Honolulu on

Your son is 6, you can explain to him that the dog is old.... but that you and he will provide it with a loving home so he can age with grace. He might not last long or will, but the main thing is the memories and love he brings to you both, and you to he.

Size of a dog does not matter.
The disposition of the dog, does. And how it bonds with you and you to he.
When I was a kid, we had some HUGE dogs... and it was VERY good & gentle with us as kids. Very protective as well.

My friend had a Rhodesian Ridgeback... it was a great gentle dog. Very nice mellow.

The key thing is that the Rescue shelter said THIS dog is great with kids. So that is good. AND yes, as you said go with your son to see it... see how it responds/reacts to your son and you.
And, hopefully you have the space, for a large dog... inside or have a good yard.

I think its great you are thinking of adopting a senior dog. Many old dogs are not adopted.

All the best.

My son had a baby bird (which we found outside on the ground)... and it died, despite us knowing how to care for it properly. My son is 6. He understood that sometimes things like this happens, and it was probably weak etc. but he knows he did his best and he loved it so much.... so he was peaceful about it. He gave it so much love... and he did cry. But he was happy... he was able to give it some caring while it was still alive. Children have a great capacity... for things like this. My son does. Just explain to your son, the dog is old... etc. but its okay.

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answers from Orlando on

I've gotten all of my dogs from rescue groups, never a senior so I have no advice on that but I just want to say what a WONDERFUL thing to do, adopting a senior dog :-) when my current dogs pass I may just do the same thing. What a privledge to spoil a special dog in their last years of life.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

We adopted our last dog when he was around 6 or 7. We only had about five years with him, but he was an awesome dog and I don't regret a thing. People still talk about what a wonderful dog he was and how great he was around our son (when our son was a VERY active toddler).

If they know this dog is great with kids, that's such a good sign. Rescue groups will be totally honest if a dog isn't ideal with kids.

See how the meeting goes. When we met our senior dog, we fell in love with him immediately. :) A rescue group got him just one day before he was set to be put down at a county shelter ... as someone mentioned, people just don't want senior dogs, no matter how sweet they are. Ours had also been with the rescue group for a while, too.

Give this dog a chance. :)

2 moms found this helpful
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