… yes, I’m a little late with this post, but I still feel it’s important to mark the one year (belated) anniversary since we brought our little one-eyed wonder home. And I think it’s safe to say, we’ve learned a lot this past year about rescuing an older dog – one who also has a disability on top of her age.
We love her (I still think she’s the cutest thing alive), and especially love that she has a home to call her own, but if I’m being completely honest, it’s been more challenging than I thought it would be. When anyone asks our thoughts on adopting older dogs, I try to be as truthful as possible. I’m also fully aware our experience is solely ours, and ours alone – many people who adopt older dogs might have completely different opinions. If you have, I’d love to hear yours.
Also, this is not meant to discourage anyone from adopting an older dog. I can tell you that if I have my say, we’ll continue to adopt older dogs in the future … much farther in the future. 🙂 I can’t tell you how important I think it is.
But here’s a few things we’ve learned this past year…
First off, my naiveness didn’t help. We rescued Piper as a puppy, which let me tell you, is not the same. Pearl certainly did, and still does present a new set of challenges – ones I was less prepared for.
To this day we don’t know her age – our vet’s last guess was 10 years or older – and with that we really don’t know much about her history. We can only assume, given her general unwillingness to warm up to – or become attached to any human – that she might’ve had a rough life prior to being rescued. I think that was quite possibly the part I was least prepared for. Who knows, maybe we’ll get there eventually. Every now and then we see a few little moments where she’s excited to be around us, and trust me, we relish in them.
As for her health, aside from cataracts in her one remaining eye (the vet has assured us there’s nothing to be done about it), her lack of hearing, and her not-so-great joints, she honestly is very healthy. Impossible, right? Jeff and I have decided that even if an apocalypse were to hit, Pearl would still magically be left roaming the streets. She’s a medical mystery!
Joking aside, we’ve found – especially in our small, multi-level home – that as time goes on her vision is starting to be much more of an impairment than when we first got her. So for us, that means a lot more carrying her (something she generally hates, but learns to tolerate) and steering her in the right direction. It also requires us approaching her in just the right way, so as not to scare her, which is very easy to do! Especially for Piper, who isn’t the most accommodating to others’ needs. It’s also something we have inform our guests about, otherwise she doesn’t react well to being startled. Again, some of that could also be a product of her former life, we’re just not sure. We honestly try to manage it as best we can, especially as we’ve gotten adjusted to having her in our home.
Lastly, I would say I was also unsure how she would do with Cosmo and Piper, which is why I’m glad we did our rescue’s “foster to adopt” program with her first. And while I wouldn’t say she considers them her friends, for the most part she either doesn’t mind or tolerates their presence. However, since she’s on the grumpier side of life (as we like to say), we’ve really had to do our best to train Piper (definitely more so than Cosmo) to be mindful of her presence, but overall we’re really lucky that they all get along. We do steer clear of the dog park with Pearl, because as we’ve learned – while she gets along with our dogs – she’s not great with other, mostly smaller female dogs.
So yes, even if it seems like I’ve had a lot to share about (did I overshare?) adopting Pearl, I can genuinely tell you we’ve learned a lot … in the best possible way. We’ve also gained a dog who needs, and wants a loving home, which is the most we can ask for. And while there are challenges to be had, we wouldn’t change a thing. If you’re looking to adopt an older dog – disability or not – I would certainly tell you it’s worth it! [END ALL MY OPINIONS]
P.S. If you’ve made it to the end of this LONG post, I’m still thinking of some sort of prize to give you. 😉