By Marcy Eckhardt
Puppies can be the most wonderful little beings. Their cluelessness and vulnerability make them nearly irresistible – not to mention the oversized eyes, ears and feet! But puppies aren’t for everyone.
Puppies demand a lot of time, attention and patience. Their sharp teeth and nails easily pierce and tear delicate skin. Their endless curiosity and enthusiasm can wear down even the most active adults. And their continued growth can turn a cute lil’ tike into an oversized, sled-dog competitor in no time.
Folks often take on this tremendous amount of work because they want to shape the dog for themselves. Typically, it’s when there are kids around to share the burden, and it ends up being a lot of fun. But when seniors take on a puppy, it can be an entirely different experience.
What should be an exciting time for grandma is often anything but. A dog can provide companionship, protection and a reason for getting up every day. But a puppy or young dog with a high level of energy can instead create feelings of guilt, resentment and even additional isolation. This mismatch between a senior’s activity level and a growing puppy gets worse over time – not better.
Our experience at La Plata County Humane Society has shown us that this mismatch impacts both the dog and the adopter. The dog isn’t socialized properly, nor is it trained or exercised to the levels needed. But equally as important are the effects on the people. By the time the animal is returned to the shelter, the adopter feels like a failure, is heartbroken and often gun shy to take another chance.
At LPCHS, we’re dedicated to lifelong adoptions. Our hope is that when any animal leaves our care, they are going to a home they can call their own – for the rest of their lives; for their sake as well as the adopters. We are also acutely aware of the amount of work needed to raise and socialize a puppy properly. Since we have an obligation to both the animals and the adopters, we’re launching a new program: Seniors for Seniors.
Seniors for Seniors Adoption Program is geared to match adopters who are over 60 with dogs who are at least 6 years old. These dogs are looking for someone to walk with, play with, and most importantly, just enjoy life with. Matching them up with seniors is a perfect way to get them into households that fit their needs.
Adoption fees are waived for any senior choosing to participate in the program. The free adoption still includes all the typical benefits of adopting an animal from LPCHS, including: altering, vaccinations, microchip with registration and a training session.
Marcy Eckhardt is La Plata County Humane Societies dog trainer and consultant and owner/trainer of pranaDOGS, a local dog training and behavior company. She can be reached at email@example.com.