“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.

  • sonja

    I am so heart broken and angry when people discard there animals when they get old. How can you just dump them off a shelter and walk away after all those years of devotion and treat them like trash, I’ll never understand it. I love my older babies and do whatever I can for them no matter what it takes or costs. I agree with Kathy; shame on the people who do this. I have never even thought about giving them away. They are my family and very much loved.

    Thanks for a wonderful website, much enjoyed.

    • admin

      Hi Sonja:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. It takes a pretty “cold” person to be able to do such a thing. We adopted a little collie mix who was dumped at the age of 10. But, we know that her remaining years with us, were the best years of her life. I made sure of that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for your most appreciated compliment about my website.


  • June Johnston

    My Dr. gave me a key tag….”I see dumb people.” My family has always believed in adopting from shelters and currently we own a total of 8 dogs that needed a second chance.(Not all in the same house thankfully) Some of these are older…age unknown…and while they have their issues as older , often untrained and abused canines, they have repayed us ten fold with the love they return.

    Love the info you share.

    • admin

      Hi June:
      What a wonderful family you have; all doing great things and making such a difference in the lives of abandoned, abused dogs. We live in world where it’s all about appearance; clothes, cars, big houses and now “designer dogs”. But, it’s not the designer dogs fault; many of these poor animals will too find themselves in shelters after the novelty wears off.

      For me, adoption is the only way. In a 35 year span; all of our dogs have come from shelters, rescue and one from a flea market. My dogs are with me for many, many years. We typically adopt them older 5 and up and they live healthy, happy lives well into their teen years. The last two we adopted were only 2 years old.

      “Thank you” to you and your wonderful family June for the tremendous difference you are making. I’m so glad that you like the information I share here on my blog.

      Janie 😮

  • Teresa DeRuyter

    I have my Old English Sheep Dog, CIELO (Heaven), since she was 2 months old. Now she is almost 13 yrs old. She can’t move her back legs at all. I have to help her get up in the middle of the night, clean her poop and pee when she can’t make it outside, give her medications, bring her water to her bed when she is thirsty.

    But I can’t think of given her up because of old age. She has been my companion, my friend and my baby. I’ll be here for her until the end no matter what. I feel sorry for people that abandon their pets because they don’t want to take time out of their busy schedule to deal with their old pets.

    They really will never know what true love is.

    • admin

      Hi Teresa:

      Bless you. I couldn’t have said it better if I tried.


  • maggee

    All 4 of my dogs are someone elses “throw aways” My rescues are better than any dog that was paid for.

    There are too many homeless and unwanted dogs and that is what really makes me mad.

    • admin

      Hi Maggee:
      I know what you mean. We rescue all of our dogs whether from shelters or rescue groups. Rescue dogs are wonderful, wonderful dogs and if I could afford it; I have many more.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Denise

    I can’t bare the thought of losing my girl. I don’t know if I will get through the loss.
    Regards, Denise

    • admin

      Hi Denise:
      I know how you feel. When I lose one my babies, it literally takes me years to be able to talk about them without crying.


      • Denise

        Hi Janie
        My girl is 8 and a half and I’m having very real
        Nightmares of losing her .my family accuses me
        Of being stupid that she is just a dog .
        She is my heart we have bonded so close.
        I would do anything to have her for ever .
        I know it’s not reasonable but it’s the truth .
        When soogie was I’ll I hand fed her & fed her
        Water with a baby spoon .
        I message her when she is uncomfortable ect
        My family frown upon me concerning my girl.
        Regards Denise

  • Linda FILIPIAK

    I’m loving your “old dog” blog!! Thank you sooo much for sharing all of this info. !!

    • admin

      Thank you sooo much Linda; I’m glad that you’re enjoying it!
      Janie 😮

  • kathy

    I get so angry when I hear of people discarding of their dogs because their old. How can you raise a dog and live with them for many years and then just dump them like their trash? The poor dog doesn’t understand why they are being dumped and most of the time they are gassed to death. That’s no way for any animal who gave you a lifetime of devotion to have to end their days. Shame on the people that do this!

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