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The autumn years

OLD age comes to us all eventually, barring accidents, fatal illnesses and the chance discovery of the fountain of youth. However, for many people, their senior years are hugely enjoyable. So it is with dogs. Like us, dogs can lead happy and useful lives as they reach their autumn years … so why are so many canine senior citizens unwanted?

There are many reasons why old dogs find themselves unwanted. A common reason is that the dog's owners are elderly people. Sometimes, elderly owners may be unable to cope with a dog any longer, perhaps due to ill health or moving into a retirement home where no pets are allowed.

Older dogs can be just as sprightly as their kennel mates -
particularly if they are exercised as part of a pack

The death of the elderly owner is another common factor. There might be no surviving relatives to look after the dog or, worse, they don't want to look after the dog.

Even worse still are those dogs who are simply abandoned as a nuisance and left to fend for themselves, or 'traded in' for a younger model as soon as the owner tires of them.

Age is relative

The average dog's lifespan varies from breed to breed. Generally speaking, the 'giant' breeds, such as St Bernards, Great Danes and Newfoundlands live to an average of eight years, whilst the Toy breeds, such as Yorkshire Terriers and Toy Poodles can live well into their teens. Medium sized breeds fall somewhere between the two.

Sprightly 'Oldies'

Like humans, elderly dogs suffer from a variety of age-related complaints, including stiff joints, arthritis and heart conditions. But, thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and treatment techniques, these conditions can be controlled.

Many old dogs have special dietary needs, so must get the correct food.

With proper care from their owners and vets, 'oldie' dogs can expect to live a bit longer and with less distress from such typical 'oldie' complaints. Of course, they may not be as sprightly as they were in their youth, perhaps they cannot go for long walks or runs, but they are still capable of enjoying a happy life and giving as much loyalty and affection as ever before.

Even little dogs grow old. Care and attention to coats and skin condition is important - particularly in coated breeds.

Some oldies might take a while to adjust to their new homes, but dogs are nothing if not adaptable and, with a bit of patience and TLC, most will settle down - proof positive that you can teach an old dog new tricks!

The only drawback with rescuing an oldie is that your time together will be limited by the dog's age. But if you can accept this fact, then there's no reason why you cannot open your home - and your heart - to a 'Golden Oldie'.