Does Age Matter?
"We'd like to adopt a two-year old female". If we've heard that once, we've heard it a thousand times. And that's ok, two-year old females are very nice. But so are our boys and our older dogs; and by older, we mean middle-aged (around six-years old) and up. By our standards most Setters are considered young if they're four-years of age or less. If you've had a Setter in the past, try to think back and remember their exuberance until they were much older. And let's face it, for some of us, we're not as young as we used to be! Constantly supervising a puppy or a young dog takes a whole lot more energy now than it did when we were fifteen or twenty, or more, years younger.
Older dogs, especially those who have once known it, appreciate love and attention and quickly learn what's expected of them in their new home. Dogs can be trained at any age. The saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks", just isn't true.
Most of our older dogs are "easy keepers" and can move right in and be comfortable within a short period of time. They've learned what "no" means and how to leave the furniture, carpets, shoes, and other chewables alone. They've been socialized and learned what it takes to be part of a "pack" and to get along with humans and, in most cases, other dogs, and maybe even cats. Even in cases where some of our older dogs have not had the opportunity to learn life's lessons, maybe they had been outside dogs with little socialization, our foster moms and dads do a great job of jump-starting these kids into good behavior before placement into an adoptive home. In cases where our dogs have suffered from "shelter shock", from a chaotic shelter environment before coming into our Rescue, our fosters are able to bring them around with tender loving care, patience, and understanding before they move on to their new homes.
Every dog is an individual who comes with their own unique set of experiences and from varying circumstances. You should always expect an adjustment period with any new dog. It may be a day or two, a few weeks, or a few months depending on the personality of the dog.
There are many people who are only interested in buying a puppy. By adopting an older dog, you can make a statement about compassion and the value of life at all ages, as well as register a protest against the indiscriminate and inhumane breeding of dogs, whether it is for profit or to "teach the children about birth". Just as a puppy has his whole life still ahead of him, an older dog has the rest of his life in front of him too. You can give that older dog the best years of his life while at the same time bring a wonderful addition into your family. Remember, there are no guarantees in life, or the length of life with any dog. Quality of time together can matter a great deal more than quantity.