Older Labs Offer Youthful Outlook

Best Traits

Most of the time, seniors are “turn-key dogs”—they are already house trained, crate trained and leash trained.  They might even already know some tricks!  Seniors want nothing more than someone to love them and give them regular meals, a soft bed and maybe a toy or bone to chew on.  They don’t require a lot of exercise, although a leisurely walk suits them just fine.  Seniors love to keep you company, and you can usually find them curled up wherever you might be—working at your desk, watching TV or—best of all—working in the kitchen where a tasty tidbit might fall on the floor.

Best Match

Seniors do best in low activity homes where they can just “hang out”, although seniors that have spent their lives with young children can do quite well with children that can respect their space—grandchildren, perhaps.  They can stay at home alone for long periods of time, and don’t usually need to be crated, so they can adapt well to work schedules.  Some seniors may need a one-floor home because arthritis prevents them from running up and down stairs.  Most of all, senior dogs need to be in a home where they can snuggle with their humans and get lots of love, because that’s what they crave! They are ready-made couch potatoes!

A Personal Story

By Barbara Osgood, Lab Rescue Volunteer and Adopter

My name is Barbara, and I am an old lab addict.  I have a very large soft spot in my heart for the old guys—the ones that have been dumped at the shelter by owners who can’t be bothered with an old dog; the ones who are found wandering down a rural road, where they have been abandoned; and, sadly, the ones whose devoted owners can’t keep them any longer because of financial or health problems.

Whoever coined the phrase "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" never owned one.  I know, because I’ve had many of them. During the past fifteen years I have had numerous old labs of my own, plus an untold number of fosters. Older labs can be delightful companions, just as full of personality as younger ones, but somewhat less "hyper".  Older labs like to play, but they are easily satisfied with brief periods of ball throwing and rope tugging.  Older labs like to walk, but they usually don't pull on the leash, and they are happy with a brief foray at a leisurely pace around the neighborhood or park. Older labs like to sleep, and they'll be happy to be couch potatoes for most of the day unless you offer them something better to do.

My "senior citizens" have all been Lab Rescue dogs. Each one has had a unique personality, and has had a special story to be told.  For example, there was Buck, who was dropped off at the shelter by his owners because they were moving and "couldn’t take him with them”; Ginger, whose owners took her to the vet and never returned to pick her up; Abby Belle, who was found by a Good Samaritan, near starvation, on a rural road; and Nykey who was picked up as a stray, but his owners refused to claim him. Labs want nothing more than to please us and work for us, yet many of them come to the end of their lives in a shelter instead of with their beloved humans.

If you are thinking about adopting a lab, consider opening your heart to an older one.  You may think that you are being generous to give a home to one of these "senior citizens".  You will soon find that your "senior citizen" returns far more to you in love, affection, amusement and contentment.  When you adopt an older lab, you will truly experience the meaning of rescue, and—who knows?—you might become an addict, too!