A home for the holidays
Sounds of anxious dogs and some pitiful whining is very apparent as you walk through the Southern Oregon Humane Society. A lot of them are older dogs, who were either surrendered from their owners or have moved here from a different shelter to avoid being euthanized.
“The seniors really tug at your heart the most because most of the time when they come in they've been in a home their entire lives and so as much as we try to make them comfortable here, they're still in a shelter and they're confused, and they're wondering where their people are,” Karen Evans, executive director of SoHumane says.
She says the idea of someone dropping off an older dog to make room for a puppy for the holidays, just doesn’t make sense.
“I think that's really sad I mean, there's absolutely no reason you can't bring a puppy into your family with a senior dog. A lot of times, the senior dog will teach the puppy the ropes and makes it easier for them. It can be stressful and has to be managed, but if you get the right match, there's no reason not to bring a puppy into a home with a senior dog,” Evans says.
It also doesn’t make sense to the Jackson County Animal Shelter, but they still see it happen.
“We have had those situations before. I don't know if there is an influx during Christmastime, it's something that happens throughout the year. I do feel like we get an influx of dogs in general during this time of year. The holidays can be stressful for families and financial hardships happen and they surrender their dogs and currently, we're really full of adoptable dogs because we're seeing an influx of surrenders and strays being brought in,” Randi Coleman with the shelter says.
She’s a kennel technician and says she hears stories daily about why people can no longer keep their dogs.
“Our hope is that people are committed to their pets. If a new puppy isn't working out, generally puppies are highly adoptable and so that would be a logical thing to surrender to a shelter because it's the newest addition, and your commitment is to your older pet and so if you bring a new puppy home and come to the decision where one of them has to find a new home, the puppy is the easier dog to place,” Coleman says.
Evans says it’s heartbreaking to see the dogs surrendered or returned to the shelter. She also suggests instead of replacing a current dog, consider adding one to your family.
“Someone has done all the work for you. Puppies are cute, but they are a huge commitment. Anyone who is ever owned one knows that. These senior pets a lot of times have many good years left and they don't chew any more, they don't go to the bathroom in the house, they're easy,” Evans says.
Bottom line, both shelters agree adopting a pet and bringing them into your home, whether you have others or not, will always take some adjustment, but in the end, it can mean years of companionship and love.
“Dogs talk to dogs better than people talk to dogs and so for your senior pet to help that puppy grow and learn and sometimes that doesn't look how you think it should, but it's just dogs communicating,” Coleman says.
“I think an animal, a pet is a life-long commitment. I don't think it's fair to get an animal if you're not prepared to keep them until the end. They're living, breathing beings that have feelings and so it's a life-long commitment,” Evans says.
Both shelters offer support for those who adopt and will help introduce your current pet with a potential new one on neutral territory.
Veterinarian Glen Winters from Phoenix Animal Hospital says if the animals do well in a neutral territory, a slow introduction at home is a good way to go as well.
He also suggests adopting a new pet on the weekend or your days off so you can be home to monitor their interactions, put the newer dog in a crate when no one is home so they don’t get into trouble and finally, be patient.