“Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Age does funny things to us human beings. We wither up, we forget things and we drive bigger cars at much slower speeds – except when we’re backing out of the driveway.

We’re sometimes neglected, peering through wrinkled eyelids at a world that seems to have passed us by, and we’re sometimes pitied.

Age also does funny things to our canine counterparts. We watch them hobble around and struggle with vision problems. Their eating habits change and they may have trouble making it outside to go to the bathroom.

They have less energy than they did when they were wee pups, so they’re sometimes neglected and sometimes even pitied.

Sad Statistics

Alarmingly, up to one million out of the four million dogs taken to shelters each year are dropped off because their owners claim they’re “too old.”

If you think about it, this has a lot of similarities to how we drop our older members of society off in nursing homes and facilities when they become too “difficult” or hard to manage.

Much like older people feel abandoned and discarded when they’re taken to nursing homes, older dogs feel the same way when they’re taken to shelters.

In the case of dogs, it could be argued that the decision to plunk an aging canine in a shelter is more heartbreaking and neglectful than the same decision regarding an elderly man or woman because the dog has grown dependent on the care of humans. This is perhaps the most shameless way to discard a companion imaginable; a surefire way of demonstrating the audacity of “pets as entertainment.”

Yet our pets should be so much more than just entertainment or conversation pieces, shouldn’t they? If we value our companions, we value their aging process as they grow old alongside us. They grow old much in the same way our children do; they face new challenges and accomplish new things just like we do.

Because of this, our pets need love, affection and attention as they age perhaps more than ever. It may not be as much “fun” to look after an older dog and it may seem more enjoyable to take cute Facebook pictures of a puppy, but there is value to age and, as Tennyson said, “honor” in it.

In further series entries, we’ll explore how to grow old gracefully with our canine companions. We’ll explore the sadness and joy of getting older and moving through the latter stages of life with dogs, focusing less on practical matters and more on the holistic journey of getting old with our pooches.

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Showing 23 comments
  • Aasakthi aman

    I wonder how people can just abandoned their dongs and treat them like thrash after so many years of emotional attachment, love , joy and bonding. All that they have for us is love and loyalty. They need to be taken care of when they are old especially. They don’t deserve to go through the mental agony and pain and all the I’ll treatment ! My husband and I rescue dogs every other day And they are the best . Rescued dogs are much much better than the fact breed ones. And what’s the point . people abandon the so called fancy dogs once they get all old .

    • janie

      Hi Aasakthi:

      Thanks so much for sharing your heartfelt view. I completely agree. It breaks my heart and happens every day, every where.

      Bless you for rescuing and helping make a difference.


    • th6ree wolves

      when i was in fourth n fifth grade i missed a lot of school
      cause i knew when i went to school my dad would
      dispose of my dog. so of a morning i would grab my
      dog n go hide out in the neighbors garage til school
      was out. then i would go home n act as if i had been
      in school all day. some days it really got cold hiding
      in that garage but i saved my dog. did fluke out of
      fifth grade from missing so much school. dogs bring
      so much joy into our lives.

      • janie

        Awe, what a sad but nice story.

        Thank you so much for sharing with us! Dogs indeed do bring so much joy to our lives.


  • Elise Smith

    I adopted my black lab mix when she was approximately 10 yrs old. She was found wandering the streets with no collar. She had a tumor, patches of missing fur, scabs, arthritis and more. Someone had just dumped her. I was volunteering for an animal shelter at the time & she picked me. I said your going to break my heart aren’t you??? Well I took her home and she had the best 2.5 senior yrs she could have had. She passed this past June in my arms. I miss her each and every day, but adopting senior dogs are the best and I will do it again. She gave me more love and job than she will ever know.

    • admin

      Hi Elise:
      Wow, what a story. It brought tears to my eyes just know how frightened she must of been wandering around. “THANK YOU” Elise for sharing this and for doing what you did. You made my day. As soon as I have a little more time; I plan on adopting another old girl.

      I agree, senior dogs ARE THE BEST!
      Janie 😮

  • Lise from Maine


    My dog, Isis, is going to be fifteen (15) on March 9th of this year, and she has been sick for about 1 and 1/2 years. We love her very much and would NEVER place her in a shelter.

    I got her when she was 7 weeks old. She will live out her days with my husband and I, and she is well taken care of.

    Thank you!

    • admin

      Hi Lise:
      Thanks so much for sharing your short story about Isis. She sounds like a very lucky girl. 😮 Well, actually I think that we’re the lucky ones, right?

      Thanks again.

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