Dog, Photo Session, Rescued

7 Reasons why senior dogs are the best

I have a confession to make and it might surprise you. While I adore puppies I think that they’re cute for a reason, otherwise people would never put up with the puppy stage. I’m also a bit selfish – I like my sleep and given all my activities and obligations I just don’t have the time to invest in raising a puppy properly. This is an ongoing friction point in my marriage as my husband dreams of getting a Bernese Mountain dog or Newfoundland puppy in the future and I am happy to rescue a mature dog that needs a good home. In fact I like to tell the story of the time my husband mentioned getting a new puppy while we still had our newf Sadie, so that she could train the new puppy. My response was that it isn’t Sadie’s job to train a puppy, it would be his job. And at that time Sadie was slowing down, I felt that she had earned the right to enjoy her senior years without a puppy driving her crazy. Not five minutes later my husband also joked that he was getting older, almost 50 and was practically dead (yes, we both have a quirky sense of humor). I quickly shot back that “maybe I should get a hot young boyfriend now, so you can train him for me”. We both laughed and so far we don’t have a puppy (or boyfriend just to be clear!).


A senior golden retriever lays on a rug in the doorway of the Silver Muzzle Cottage in Michigan

The reason why I bring this up is November is officially adopt a senior pet month, woo hoo! And I also had the absolute pleasure of visiting Silver Muzzle Cottage a few weeks ago to photograph some of their adoptable dogs. Whenever I travel I love to set up dog photoshoots.  Not only do I like exploring new areas from a pet photographer’s perspective, but I also like meeting new dog people.  On our recent trip “Up North” in Michigan I decided to do something a little different. Instead of booking a traditional pet portrait session I reached out to Silver Muzzle Cottage to see if I could offer my dog photography services.


I could have stayed all day hanging out with the dogs there, it took an effort to stop petting them all and actually take photos (you can see the Facebook photo album here).  It was also hard not to take them all home with me.


A senior basset hound walks through the grass at a Michigan senior dog hospice
Silver Muzzle Cottage is an amazing rescue organization based in a Rapid City, Michigan.  About 40 minutes east of Traverse City, this organization specializes in senior dogs that need a new home.  


SMC is run by Kim Skarritt. You know how people always write in rescue posts that “I wish I could help these animals”, or “somebody needs to do something to help”?  Well, Kim is the person who is doing something.  She has been written about in People magazine, the Detroit Free Press, and many other local Michigan news outlets. She not only takes in and cares for the senior dogs, but she gives back to the community by offering a program called Seniors for Seniors.  Silver Muzzle Cottage volunteers can take a resident dog to nursing care facilities where everyone benefits from hanging out with the dogs for a while.


A senior beagle wearing a red harness plays in a plastic playground at a dog rescue

There are a lot of reasons why senior dogs end up needing homes.  Sometimes owners are also seniors and can no longer take care of their pets, or have sadly passed away and don’t have family members that can take their pets.  Some get lost and wander away. Others are discarded when the cute new puppy comes along (don’t get me started!). Whatever the reason, there are a lot of senior pets that need homes.  So here are some reasons why you should consider rescuing one.

A close up of a senior dogs' face as he gets ear rubs from a man at the Silver Muzzle Cottage in MI

7 reasons why senior dogs are the best:



1.  No crazy puppy chewing phase -puppies learn about the world by putting it in their mouths.  And it can take some time for them to figure out what is chewable and what is not. Your shoes, furniture, and fingers will thank you.  

2.  Housetraining will probably be done for you.  While every new pet needs some time to adapt to the new routines, the learning curve should be shorter for older dogs who are just making minor tweaks vs. puppies learning first hand…on your carpeting.


3.  Sleep!  All those jokes about having “mommy brain”?  Sleep deprivation is a thing. Older dogs are usually pretty good snoozers.  This includes through the night, most of the day, and bingeing on Netflix with you.  If I haven’t started walking towards the bedroom by 9 pm my dogs will go without me
.

A smiling black and white collie mix enjoys the sunny day in the grass


4.  Socialization and training – puppies need to be exposed to other dogs and new situations to learn how to deal with them in positive ways.  Do you have the time to invest in this? Remember that you’ll also be spending time cleaning up and will already be tired from lack of sleep.


5.  What you see is what you get.  You know how big the dog is going to get, it’s already full grown!  And personality will be on display, making it easier for you to match your own family needs to those of the dog.  This is especially important with energy levels.

A senior mixed breed dog scratches it's back on the grass


6.  Companionship – older dogs just get it.  Instead of chasing around a puppy and trying to stay one step ahead of what might possibly get chewed up, you can relax and enjoy the company of your new pet.  Especially if that involves napping on the couch.



7.  Adopting a senior dog is saving it’s life, literally!  I know, adopting any dog is technically saving it’s life but puppies tend to get adopted more quickly than older dogs.  Shelters are always over crowded so they’ll make the difficult decision of euthanizing “less adoptable” dogs first. And don’t think a senior dog doesn’t know that, I completely believe that they understand and are incredibly grateful for it…just look into those eyes.



A man kneels down to get kisses from two senior dogs

So there you have it, some things to keep in mind when you considering adding a dog (or any pet) to your household.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all dogs. I just know myself and senior dogs definitely suit my lifestyle. Yes, they leave us all too soon.  But I’ll still take whatever time I have with them and enjoy it to the fullest.

 A senior shepherd dog mix suns himself on the deck at Silver Muzzle Cottage in MI

If you think that a senior dog would be the right fit for your household you can check out these resources:

 

Silver Muzzle Cottage   follow them on Facebook 

Butch Cassidy’s Hang Out on Facebook – featuring senior dogs from various animal shelters and rescues, focusing on southeastern Michigan.

 

Petfindersearch rescues and shelters for pets that are up for adoption.  Just select “Senior” from the Age drop down menu option and find senior dogs needing homes near you.

 

An old black lab mix dog looks happy next to a fence at the Silver Muzzle Cottage rescue in Michigan
Want to help senior dogs but can’t adopt or foster one yourself?  Here are a few ideas:

 

Volunteer – If you’re near the Rapid City, MI, area you can volunteer with Silver Muzzle Cottage.  Help feed, walk, and love on the dogs. Or join the Senior for Seniors program and share the joy of the dogs with seniors.

 

Spread the word – comment, like and forward messages on Facebook and Instagram that will help senior dogs.  Those social media algorithms are based on engagement. Engage with the posts and more people will see them, maybe you’ll help spark a connection that helps save a dog.

 

Donate – most animal shelters have a wishlist, many are on Amazon to make it easy to order and ship (don’t forget to use Smile.Amazon to also donate a percentage of all your purchases to the charity of your choice).

A happy senior golden retriever gets a butt scratch outdoors