Have you got an older dog that needs a home?

This is a question that I get asked a lot. People like the idea of taking home an older dog for a variety of reasons, but some people have a really unrealistic idea of what lies in store when you 'take on' a mature dog. Most people understand the commitment and dedication required when taking a new puppy into their home, and for some this is reason enough to consider having an older dog instead! For others it may be for financial reasons that an older or 'rescue' dog seems like a good alternative, (although a young dog initially 'run on' for showing will not be any less expensive to purchase than an 8 week old puppy, possibly more) or perhaps someone who is themselves a little past the first flush of youth may sensibly feel a puppy would be unsuitable for them. For some families it is a genuine desire to 'help' an older dog, but there is a great deal to be considered before opening your home to any dog.
If a Cocker (or indeed any dog) has been living with a family since puppy hood and is then offered for re-homing, what is the reason? Often families who give up their dogs aren't entirely honest about the reasons behind their decision, after all why would anyone want to re-home a 'perfect' dog? Occasionally, perhaps due to ill health or re-location, or perhaps at the start of the holiday season, a seemingly 'perfect' dog may be looking for a new home. But even this dog, is unlikely to fit into a new home without any teething problems. A dog that is house trained and neutered, that is good with other dogs, cats and children, who comes when they're called, only barks when someone knocks at the door and doesn't want to go out for a walk in the rain, even this dog goes to his or her new home with some baggage. This dog has been in a routine set by his previous owners, and now, often through no fault of his own, he finds himself having to adapt to a completely different lifestyle with a completely different set of rules. He may be used to children....but not your children, house training will need re-visiting when the back door is in a different place and new rules and timetables apply in every home, each family has its own way of doing things he will take time to get used to your ways. He will need patience, love and understanding and plenty of time to come to terms with his new life and to learn what is expected of him. And what about the less than perfect dogs? The dogs that get stressed because they have been left home alone while their families go out to work full time, and become destructive or noisy when they are left, or those who have been treated like toys by small children and are now scared of them. What about those who have never been house trained those who have been kennel dogs perhaps. What about noisy dogs, dogs that don't like other dogs, dogs who have always had other dogs to lean on, dogs that don't like cats, dogs that dig up the garden, dogs that seemingly go deaf when they are called, dogs that steal food from the table, dogs that tear up cushions or chew door frames. What about the dogs that are given up because their owners can't cope with their behaviour? These are not 'bad' dogs or 'difficult dogs' but dogs that are in need of a loving committed family who will gently and patiently re-train them to become happy, confident family pets.
It is most rewarding and very satisfying to take an older dog into your home and slowly but surely bring them round to the ways of your family... but it is not the easy option! Sometimes reputable breeders and show exhibitors have mature dogs looking for a suitable 'retirement' home or perhaps young dogs who haven't quite taken to showing and would prefer to be in a pet home. The breeder will know these dogs well and will know all about their ancestry too but these dogs may have been kennel dogs ( with a few dogs living together there is an obvious need to be able to separate the boys from the girls at certain times!) and as such may not be fully house trained. This is usually very quickly sorted out but it does take a little effort. A dog from a rescue centre may have a less well known past and it may be more difficult to understand his actions and reactions to certain situations, so please don't even think of taking on an older dog if you haven't got the time to devote to him. If you were thinking that because you are out at work all day it wouldn't be fair to have a puppy, then the same applies to an older dog. However, if you have a genuine desire to offer a permanent loving home to an older dog, baggage and all, and you feel that you have got the time and commitment required, then you are exactly the sort of people from whom I welcome the question.... Have you got an older dog that needs a home?
Some years ago we met a family who had a wonderful little dog called Mikey. Mikey was a little Collie X bitch and she was the most delightful girl. Everyone loved her and she impressed us all with her good nature and her exemplary behaviour. Never before, or probably since, have I met a dog so in tune with her family and so well behaved, so imagine my surprise when I learned that they had got her from a rescue centre. I couldn't imagine why anyone would have given up such a great dog. Her family explained to me that she had not been given up just once, but four times and they were her 5th home! Apparently she had been picked from rescue on three previous occasions before she finally found her forever family but had been returned each time because of her unruly behaviour! This only goes to show that every dog has the potential to be somebody's perfect dog. Of course I would not want any dog to go from home to home in the way that Mikey did and so it is most important to try and 'marry' mature dogs to a suitable family and for the adopting family to have a realistic expectation of what to expect from their new companion. Some dogs may prefer to be an 'only' dog whilst others like canine company as well as human. If there is already a dog in residence then it is most important that their feelings and personality are considered. I usually don't recommend that the established dog comes here to meet the 'new' dog to see what they think of each other. Other breeders or rescue establishments may do things differently but I think that it is best for the dogs to meet in the environment that they are going to share, so it is really important that would be adopters are honest about their dogs temperament. On one occasion, when a family arrived complete with large dog, the little bitch they were visiting was quite off hand with them and made her displeasure at having such a large dog wanting to play with her very clear, however despite this things still 'felt' right and she went home with them. It didn't take long for the two to become the very best of friends sharing beds, toys and cuddles. These experienced dog owners knew their dog well, and were confident that with a little effort things would work out as they wanted.....and it did, but they were realistic about the effort required to settle a new dog into their family life.
If you are still keen to adopt a mature dog please get in touch, or take a look at www.thecockerspanielclub.co.uk where you will find a list of regional rescue co-ordinators who will be happy to discuss availability with you.
*Please note that whilst some Cockers homed through Cocker Rescue or directly from their breeder may not be neutered, they are strictly homed as pets only and are not under any circumstances to be bred from. You may be required to arrange to have him/her neutered at your cost under the terms of your homing agreement*

Uppermost in peoples minds when wanting to consider a mature dog is how they will make the transition from life here to a new home life. Below is a letter from two people who took the plunge and opened their home to an ex kennel dog. Their's is not in any way unusual, in fact it is exactly the type of letter I can usually expect when a mature dog goes home. BEA (Cocker Spaniel) was 5 years old when she went to start her new life towards the end of 2012 , and as you can see she quickly settled in and became a much loved and valued member of a family as did Scarlet ( Mini Dachshund) who found a new home at 2 years of age in April 2014 and immediately became one of the family!

Hi Jackie,
Thank you for letting us have our early Xmas box, BEAutiful BEA !! We can't imagine being without her now. She has settled down extremely well and has exceeded all our expectations and enjoys running free on our regular walks , often accompanied by Marco .She loves travelling in the car and has fitted in so well with our life style. She has turned our house into a home again and is so lovable and affectionate and enjoys her many cuddles. All our visitors and friends [ young and old ] think that she is so pretty and adorable and we feel so proud and privileged that you entrusted us with her care!! We wish you,Stuart and family,not forgetting all your wonderful dogs , a very Happy Xmas and New Year and hope that you enjoy much success with all your dogs in 2013 Best wishes Colin and Joyce.

Dear Jackie and Stuart, well what can we tell you about our little Princess you kindly agreed to allow us to take into our home, albeit Dad did try to dog nap when we arrived there!
She is settling down very well and all decisions we had previously made regarding no going on the sofa's and certainly no going in the bedrooms have completely and utterly gone out of the window and she is curled up between us on the sofa as I write this and her basket has taken up residence in my bedroom! She has become quiet a celebrity already having been introduced to family and friends all wanting to take her home with them! No chance of that ever happening!
Having been introduced to a harness and lead she proudly walks down the path with her head held high with a "look at me" air about her, taking all attention given to her in her stride as one would expect if they have had the pleasure of Dachshunds living with them before.
We have already registered with the Vet I have always used and taken out an Insurance policy , the Vet is looking forward to her first visit , in the nicest way possible of course!
Once again thank you so much for choosing us to have Scarlet and rest assured we will give her a loving home for many years to come, our thoughts are moving in the direction of finding a friend for her in the future, and will keep you informed on that one!
With kind regards,
Sue,Pete and wags and woofs Scarlet x

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