Written by Mary Clark at Labrador Retriever Rescue, Inc.
Permission granted to freely reprint and distribute this document with credit to LRR, Inc at http://www.lrr.org/
- With most family members gone during the work week for 8 hours or more, housetraining a puppy and its small bladder can take a while. Puppies need a consistent schedule with frequent opportunities to eliminate where you want them to. An older dog can “hold it” much more reliably for longer time periods, and usually the Rescue has him housebroken before he is adopted.
- With a chewy puppy, you can count on mismatched pairs of socks and a variety of unmentionables rendered to the “rag bag” before they finish teething. You can expect holes in your carpet (along with the urine stains), pages missing from books, stuffing exposed from couches, and chewed up shoes. No matter how well you watch them, it will happen–this is a puppy’s job! An older dog can usually have the run of the house without destroying it.
- A puppy can be very demanding at 2:00 am and 4:00 am and 6:00 am. They misses their littermates and their mother. If you have children, you’ve been there and done that. How about a little peace and quiet? How about an older rescue dog?
- With a puppy in your house, do you think you will be able to relax when you get home from a long day at work? Will your kids really feed them, clean up the messes and take them for a walk in the pouring rain every hour to get him housetrained? An adult dog will be sitting calmly next to you while your workday stress flows away and your blood pressure lowers as you pet them.
- Puppies need their series of puppy shots and fecal exams, then their rabies shot, then a trip to be altered, maybe an emergency trip or two if they’ve chewed something dangerous. Those puppy visits can add up (on top of what you paid for the dog!). Your donation to the rescue when adopting an older dog should get you a dog with all shots current, already altered, and heartworm negative at the minimum.
- How big will that puppy be? What kind of temperament will they have? Will they be easily trained? Will their personality be what you were hoping for? How active will they be? When adopting an older dog from a rescue, all of those questions are easily answered. You can pick large or small; active or couch potato; goofy or brilliant; sweet or sassy. The rescue can guide you to pick the right match (Rescues are full of puppies who became the wrong match as they got older!)
- When the puppy isn’t teething on your possessions, they will be teething on your children and yourself. Rescues routinely get calls from panicked parents who are sure their dog is biting the children. Parents are often too emotional to understand that a growing puppy is going to put everything from food to clothes to hands in their mouths, and as they get older and bigger it definitely hurts (and will get worse, if they aren’t being corrected properly.)
- Good rescues do extensive evaluating of both their dogs and their applicants to be sure that both dog and family will be happy with each other until death do them part. Good rescuers try to match each applicant with an appropriate dog. They know if a particular dog likes kids, can get along with other pets, needs lots of exercise, plays rough, is easy to train, is afraid of men, jumps fences, etc.
- With an older dog, you automatically have a buddy that can go everywhere and do everything with you NOW. There’s no waiting for a puppy to grow up (and then hope they will like to do what you enjoy.) You will have been able to select the most compatible dog: one that travels well; one that loves to play with your friends’ dogs; one with excellent house manners that you can take to your parents’ new home with the new carpet and the new couch. You can come home after a long day’s work and spend your time on a relaxing walk, ride or swim with your new best friend (rather than cleaning up after a small puppy.)
- Dogs that have been uprooted from their happy homes or have not had the best start in life are more likely to bond very completely and deeply with their new people. Those who have lost their families through death, divorce or lifestyle change go through a mourning process. But, once attached to a new loving family, they seem to want to please as much as possible to make sure they are never homeless again. Those dogs that are just learning about the good life and good people seem to bond even deeper. They know what life on the streets, life on the end of a chain, or worse is all about, and they revel and blossom in a nurturing, loving environment.