November is adoptive month and also the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. So it is only natural to ponder the many reasons to be grateful for the precious older dogs that share our lives, homes, and hearts.
Older dogs know us well, and that’s as wonderful as it is comforting. In many cases, these dogs have been in our lives a long time, maybe even since puppyhood, and have guided us through both happy and dark times. Sometimes we have lived longer with these venerable dogs than with our spouse or our children.
There are many reasons for being close to older dogs. For one, it’s easier to live with them in the moment. When dogs reach the later stages of their lives we are less concerned about pampering them, sending them the wrong way, or developing habits that we may want to change later. Personally, if an older dog decides to take a nap on the most comfortable piece of furniture in the house, I’m all for it. I don’t think about how I might regret buying a chic couch or a new house a decade later. It is natural to live in the present with an older dog because unfortunately we know that our time together is limited.
On the practical side, older dogs generally don’t need that much exercise – especially not the first thing in the morning. (There are exceptions to every rule, however.) They are more patient and easier to please. All hell doesn’t break loose if we don’t give our older dog a solid hour of training each day before work.
A walk with an older dog is a chance for the proverbial stopping to smell the roses. Such walks are less about exercise and more about actively taking a break from a busy schedule to appreciate the beauty of life. When I’m with an older dog, I especially look forward to our time after the walk, when we just hang out, have a little petting and love. Those beautiful, low-key moments of peaceful togetherness, which are more common in older dogs, are to be appreciated.
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There is also a beauty in older dogs that may not be obvious to people who have never lived with one before. Age has its exquisite aspects. The gray muzzle, drooping face, scars, bumps, and other cosmetic imperfections may seem like imperfections, but I consider them to be signs of love and time for that special, adored individual.
We are especially grateful when older dogs reach those golden years – in many ways they have beaten the odds. While it goes without saying that no dog lives long enough, not all dogs make it into old age. If they do, it’s a blessing. There is beauty in a life well lived, and older dogs embody that beauty in a special way.
Older dogs are special treasures. If you have one in your life, be grateful and celebrate their company and time together. If you are planning on adopting a dog, consider a senior who knows that an older dog will make your life better and bring so much joy to them.