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All Grown Up: The Unique Joys of Mature Dogs

Orville had only been with his foster parents' for a few days before they decided to make him a permanent member of the family. Gail and her husband George were captivated by his affectionate and playful personality. "We knew that we couldn't let anyone adopt him," says Gail. Orville was already home."

At eight years old, this basset is just one of an increasing number of mature pets finding their way into American's hearts and homes. As people become more aware of the joys of older pets, adult animals are getting more attention from potential adopters — and for good reason.

The Big Easy
Sure, puppies, kittens and other young animals are adorable. But just like their human counterparts, these babies require an extensive commitment of time and energy from their guardians. For many Americans, busy schedules and work commitments prevent them from being able to provide the kind of round-the-clock care that younger animals require. For many adopters mature animals fit their lifestyle. I speak for myself when I say an older dog is a much better option as I work long hours and [older dogs] just don't need as much exercise and stimulation as the younger guys do. Typically, the older dogs are already housebroken and have passed the destructive chewing phase."

Not only that, but mature dogs will have likely gone through some basic obedience training. But don't misunderstand: Although older pets may be less demanding, that's not to say adult dogs don't require pet parents to be responsible and devoted—all animals require a lifelong commitment.

Animal Attachment
It's something that rescue workers hear over and over again from people who want to adopt a puppy : "I want a pet who will bond with my family" or "I want a pet who can grow up with my kids." The truth is that forming a strong connection with a pet has little to with the animal's age at the time of adoption.

Some people—especially those with young children—pass over adult dogs in favor of puppies .In my opinion, if an adult dog is given a 'second chance' with a loving, adoptive family, it's very likely that he will be a trusting, loyal companion for many years."

In addition, adult dogs are often a more practical pet for families with children. Bringing together young puppies and kids can be problematic, as puppies sometimes exhibit playful nipping and clawing, which can injure or frighten children. And kids can inadvertently be too rough with young puppies. Adopting a mature dog who interacts well with children can be the best option.

The Awwwww Factor
While pint-sized pooches have the power to seduce just about any animal-lover, it's important to remember that puppies quickly become adults. Before giving in to the pull of a young pup, adopters need to remember that every dog up for adoption used to be a baby—and that adult dogs can be every bit as sweet, cute and playful as their younger counterparts.


What You See...
Anyone who's ever observed an infant and wondered what he would look like as an adult knows that, without meeting his parents, it would be hard to guess. In the same way, it's hard to determine what kind of characteristics a puppy will have until the animal is an adult. In contrast, it's much easier for potential adopters to get a sense of a mature animal's qualities—including size, temperament, and personality—and to make a more informed decision based on their expectations.

Good Vibes
Helping a homeless dog will always be a natural high for adopters. But those who choose to adopt an adult pet can take extra comfort in knowing that they're giving a home to an animal who may otherwise be overlooked. As they age, dogs tend to have an increasingly hard time finding an adoptive family. For many adopters, giving an older dog a home is an act of compassion.

But for some, the good feelings associated with adopting a mature pet has little to do with sympathy. "I have benefited more from knowing and loving my old hounds than I ever could have imagined. When I adopted my first older hound, I felt badly for her being in the adoption center at her age, and thought I was doing a good thing by bringing her home. Who was I kidding? Now I am filled with gratitude to her for sharing her appreciation for the little joys in life with me. I have learned many life lessons from knowing, loving, and being loved by these old souls" quotes one HOMEWOODS adaptor.

More and more animal-lovers are finding out that their perfect pet isn't a puppy but an adult dog. In the process, they're learning just how easy it is to teach an older dog new tricks—like showing their best friend how to love again.

"Though ORVILLE doesn't hear as well as he used to, he 'hears' our love when we scratch his ears and massage his back." says George "As a society, we respect and honor those who have lived long lives. And so it should be for our special animal friends."