We sometimes find that people who want to adopt a dachshund are reluctant to take a dog who is older than four or five. There seems to be a misunderstanding about the life span of dachshunds these days! A five-year-old dachshund is only about a third of the way through its average life span; that is akin to a human who is 25 years old!
Because most of us who volunteer in rescue have had a few older dogs in our care, we know what absolutely wonderful companions they are. On this page, we share our reasons for loving the older dogs, and provide information about adopting and caring for an older dog.
|Top 10 Reasons to Adopt a Senior Dog|
*The Senior Dogs Project, www.srdogs.com; used with permission
|When is a Dog a Senior Dog?|
one can say, exactly. Like people, individual dogs age at different rates.
Life expectancy is increasing for dogs, just as it is for humans. And when it
comes to age, size does matter—a miniature dachshund might not be considered a
senior until it is eight or nine years old, while a Great Dane is a senior
when it’s only five!
|In Loving Memory of a Very Old Man|
was Yolanda McIntyre’s beloved “old man” for two and a half years, until
his death at age 21; that’s about age 100 in human years. He almost
didn’t make it to 18. Whoever owned him decided he was too old to keep,
so they abandoned him, chained to the fence surrounding an animal
shelter with his vet records next to him.
Schwartz went to live as a foster with Yolanda, who promptly fell totally in love with him and decided to give him a home for the rest of his life. They were very happy years for Yolanda. And, needless to say, for Schwartz too.
It's Just Icing on the Cake!
by Sandy Clabaugh
The grey hair of an aging dog, spreading
across the muzzle and over the eyebrows, is known as “frosting.” And to me,
there’s nothing more wonderful than a frosted face with all the wisdom and
experience it communicates and all the love it speaks of that is still there
|Caring For Your Senior Dog|
One big reason people give for their reluctance to adopt an older dog is their concern that the dog will be sickly or debilitated, and they will incur large medical expenses.
Here are some tips on keeping your older
dog healthy and dealing with age-related problems. You will find that
there isn’t much difference between these health hints and those we
follow for ourselves.
Dental Care. When we rescue dachshunds that have been neglected, their teeth are in bad shape and they almost always need a dental procedure. But a little maintenance can help keep your older dog’s teeth and gums healthy, so that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on frequent veterinary cleanings. Feeding high-quality kibble, rather than soft food alone, is a big help. Hard chew toys (NylaBone, Booda Velvets, Greenies, meat bones) improve dental health too. You can also clean your dog’s teeth, either with a cotton ball or dog toothbrush, regularly to help promote dental health.
Arthritis. Most people develop some arthritis as they age, and so do many dogs. Regular exercise helps to delay the development of arthritis, as does keeping your dog at a good weight. And gentle exercise for dogs who already have arthritis helps too; be sure to demand only as much exercise as the dog can reasonably perform—a walk down the block and back might be all that one dog can do comfortably, while another dog may enjoy a longer stroll. But the good news is that a relatively inexpensive supplement is now available to help relieve arthritis pain and restore joint function. Your vet can help you find the right solution to this common problem.
|We Love Our Senior Dogs!|
Lee’s rescue story began when his owner sadly passed away—leaving him under
the care of his extended family. Unfortunately, they didn’t feel like he fit
in to their lifestyle and surrendered him to a shelter. His foster mom met him
there and noticed off the bat that he was quite the grumpy old man. Given his
ornery disposition and advanced age, she knew that the chances of finding a
forever family for Grady were slim, but she chose to not give up on him like
his extended family had and immediately took him out of that horrid pace.
***UPDATED, April, 2013***
Peanut's human sister is happy to report that Peanut is still with her Mom. She writes,
Though most of her vision is gone, she gets lost in the house, has a touch of arthritis and has become a rather grumpy old lady, she still loves food, nap time on a lap, and her soft doggie bed. Though we will never know how old she is, we guesstimate her to be 19. The years she and my mom have shared have been filled with joy and loyalty that has been an amazing gift! Many may want to thank my mom for adopting this senior, but I'd like to thank Peanut for the joy she has given to my mom.
- Becky Dever, Illinois
years ago, I received a frantic phone call from a woman in northern Illinois
who stated that her mother recently moved to an assisted living facility and
couldn’t take her 12 year-old black/tan dachshund, Peanut, with her. The
daughter complained that Peanut had a very snippy attitude and bit everyone
except her owner. –And since Peanut wouldn't do her duty outside, her family
crated her 23 hours per day. Understandably, Peanut couldn’t hold it that long
and soiled her crate.
I want to
encourage anyone who might be considering adopting an older dog. Yes, your
time together might be shorter, but it will be very rewarding, and the seniors
seem to appreciate having a new home so much. It is just hard to explain, but
it seems as if they know they have been given a second chance at a loving
home. Please don't be afraid to try an older dog.
|Winnie, Age 10+|
August of last year, my first dachshund, Sandie, passed away. She was very ill
in the end and she passed away without my being there with her. I was just
distraught. My house was so empty, and my beagle was so morose over being
alone. Then someone asked if we could foster a little girl who desperately
needed a home.
senior dachshund has been such a blessing to my family. We didn't know how old
Simon was when he came to us, but various vets guessed anywhere from 10 to 16.
Simon was rescued from a shelter and was my foster dog for a summer while he
went through a complete geriatric workup and dental surgery to extract nine
rotten teeth and clear up the infection. Because Simon stayed with us for so
long, he had many opportunities to enjoy visits with my mother, who, although
only 53 years old, was recovering from two heart surgeries and dealing with
the daily discomforts of both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. My father is a
long- distance truck driver and Mom spends quite a bit of time alone. Mom had
met many, many fosters in the previous years but she really had a thing for
Simon. My parents are serious animal lovers, but throughout their 35-year
marriage, they had had only cats, so having them adopt Simon never crossed my
|Benny, Age 14(?)|
Thanksgiving, someone dumped an older red, smooth dachsie gentleman in a very
rural woods that is full of coyotes. Somehow, he found his way out of the
woods and ended up at the house of a friend of mine. She lives in the middle
of nowhere, and the old, tick-covered dog was barking at her horses.
|Hershey, Age 13|
Hi there, all you dachshund lovers! My name is Hershey, and I don’t have a sad tale to tell about coming from a puppy mill or being abused. My life has been pretty comfy right from the start. Well, almost from the start. My mom bought me at a pet store before she knew about the connection between pet stores and puppy mills, because I had been sitting in a small wire cage in the store for months. My price had been slashed several times, but no one would buy me because I didn’t look like what most people think of when they think of dachshunds. That’s because I’m a wheaten wirehaired dachshund.
|Ben, Age 14|
had lost a dachshund after back surgery and had a really tough time
dealing with her loss, so I decided to join rescue in her memory. Ben
was my first rescue. I was sitting at work when I got a call from the
local humane society. They told me that two young girls had just dropped
off an old dachshund and that if I didn’t want to take him, they were
going to put him to sleep immediately. He was labeled “unadoptable”
because he was “too old.” I told them to give me five minutes.
Off I went in the pouring rain to check out this dog. At the humane society, Ben came waddling down the hall just as proud as he could be. The sight of him brought tears to my eyes, but there was no fear or malice in Ben. He came right to me and crawled into my arms and started to lick me with a wildly flailing tongue. The tech who had brought him out told me that the two girls who had brought Ben in had seen him thrown out of a car window into a ditch.
When I got home, I checked Ben out carefully. His right ear was torn in half and his left ear was jagged and torn from exposure. His tongue hung out the side of his mouth because all of his teeth—ALL of them, except for a few in the back that were rotten—had been ground down completely to the gum. My vet said that either his teeth had been filed down intentionally or he had been chewing on a cage for years, trying to escape. His body was scarred all over from old injuries. And he was positive for heartworms. The vet guessed his age at about 11.
We treated Ben’s heartworms, and he had a rough time of it when his lungs filled with fluid during the treatment, but he is a trouper and he pulled through beautifully. He never complained during this period of misery; he was always the sweetest dog you could ever hope to meet.
Ben has been a part of our family for three wonderful years. Although he obviously suffered terribly in his former life, he has never shown anything but love toward any person. He adores my daughter, who called him “my Jinjamin” (she was two when we got him), and I adore him and am fiercely protective of my old man. He is so clearly grateful for every day of his good life. There is nothing better than a senior!
|Farfel, Age 11, & Beena, Age 18|
Like many people, I used to get puppies. I didn’t give it much thought, really; if I was going to have a dog, a puppy seemed the obvious choice. And all the trials of having a puppy—the accidents, the chewing, the crying through the night—were just part of the package. I adopted Farfel when he was two and Beena when she was 16, and if you think an older dog can’t bond with a new person, you haven’t met me and my dogs!
Farfel was very bonded with his former owner, and she worried that he would not accept a new mom and might pine away. On the long ride to his new home, he sat in my lap, pressed against me as hard as he could be. He has never looked back. Everyone comments on what a “mama’s boy” he is, but the truth is, Farfel bonds to whoever loves him and cares for him. When I’m out of town, he is in his sitter’s lap most of the time. He’s just a very loving dog who craves physical contact. And aside from the frosting that is spreading across his face, he looks pretty much as he did when I brought him home nine years ago. He no longer runs flat out across the big field in the park, but he runs halfway across it and can still do a long hike through the forest preserve. He is a healthy, active dog who loves to play and is wonderfully well behaved.
I adopted Beena, a tiny dachshund/Chihuahua mix, when her 91-year-old owner had to go into a nursing home. No one would take Beena, so the poor woman was going to have to have her only companion of 16 years put to sleep. Her vet told me that Beena had an enlarged heart and would probably live only a few weeks or a month, or a couple of months at the outside, but the only medication she required was one-quarter of a generic tablet for her heart every day. I took her for her owner’s sake and thought I was giving Beena a comfortable place to die when it was her time to go.
Well, Beena fooled everyone! Finding herself in a new home, with a couple of dachshund buddies and someone new to dote on her, she perked right up. She loved her daily walks, but mostly she loved her meals, and on our morning walks, as we were turning the corner toward home, she would start to run, in anticipation of her breakfast waiting inside. After a year, her heart murmur had disappeared and the vet declared her to be in amazingly good health.
Beena lived for a year and 11 months after coming into our home. She died, peacefully, painlessly, and with no fuss, wrapped in her blanket in my arms one morning. No prolonged illness, no increasing debility. She just took a deep breath and passed from this world. I would not have missed my time with this dear old girl for anything.
Adopting an older dog is a true joy. I’m
through with puppies! Maybe it’s because I am getting older, but it’s
strictly senior dogs for me from now on.
Here are some links to wonderful web sites that can provide lots of information about adopting and caring for senior dogs.
The Senior Dog Project
Senior Canine Rescue Society
The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs