It's no surprise that puppies get adopted a lot faster than adult dogs. Which presents a problem for rescue organizations.
The first, most obvious, is that adult dogs have ever-narrowing chances of finding a good home. By "adult" I don't mean "senior"--even one- or two-year-old dogs get passed over for puppies. And every time that happens is another nail in their coffins. (If only they had coffins.)
The second problem is, actually, the core problem of dog rescuing. Where do all these homeless dogs come from? Sure, a lot are born homeless (especially in third-world locations like the Caribbean and Latin America)--but not all of them. A huge number started out life in homes, in families--a family that wanted that "bundle of cuteness overload", that "fresh start". But puppies don't stay puppies forever. They grow. Oh, so very, very fast.
I get it; all you want to do with a puppy is cuddle and take pictures. What do you do when you find him cutting his tiny baby teeth on your Gucci loafers? You go Awwww, snap a photo, post it on Facebook, and all your friends go Awwwww too. And how can you possibly leave that itty-bitty baby in a crate all night? No, no; he sleeps in the bed with us. Plenty of time to teach him later.
Too many people fall in love with the baby cuteness and forget its days are numbered--until, one day, the puppy is no longer a puppy, it's a grown dog that growls at you when you try to get him off the bed. Off goes the ex-puppy to the shelter (or the street).
Raising a puppy to be a calm, independent, happy adult--the companion of your dreams--is hard work.
An adult's basic character traits--full of energy or mellow, social or not, a cuddler or a loner--have already been established and (unless you're into rehabilitation, which is a whole different ballgame), won't change.
An adult is much easier to train; they've lived enough to know, for example, that going potty in the same place where you sleep or eat is a bad idea. They test boundaries less. They love with less distraction, less challenge.
And yet ninety percent of people will stride past the adult cages at a shelter without so much as a second glance.
Why is it that we value youth so much more? Not just a dog's--ours, too. The golden years were in our teens, our twenties. Growing old seems like the end of everything, a tragedy that most people go to extreme lengths to postpone--as if it could be. Lying about their age; using all sorts of creams, make-up, concealers, magic potions. Studying pop culture to be in with the newest slang, the latest fashions, the hippest music. Going under the knife.
Older dogs may not have the effervescence of puppies--thank heavens--but they have plenty of energy to keep any human company in the exercise department. Older dogs don't have to chew on everything to figure out what they like; they already know what tastes good, what doesn't get them into trouble--and they can spend more time chewing that.
Relationships with older dogs are more fulfilling--more time spent in quiet contemplation rather than in a tug-of-war to establish who's who. Power struggles and pissing contests aren't necessary.
I think that's also true of our own relationships as we get older.
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