Deciding To Adopt a Senior Dog

I didn’t set out to adopt a senior dog when I found Burt. I wasn’t really planning on adopting at all. I just searched for “chocolate lab” and thought I’d share a few adoptable dogs on my social media to help them find a furever home. But something about Burt’s profile caught my eye.

He was listed as six years old with special needs and his past was a complete mystery. He wasn’t the kind of dog that would be adopted overnight. In fact, he hadn’t been adopted in over a year. He was the longest resident of the shelter.

Deciding to adopt a senior dog

When I went to meet him for the first time he was literally bouncing off the walls. But I know labs and I just had a feeling that with enough exercise, some training and lots of love that he could be an amazing dog. It broke my heart when the shelter staff told me that Burt didn’t get many visitors. So it’s no wonder he was jumping all over me, he was just so excited for someone to give him attention.


It’s only been three months since Burt joined me and Lucy at home and I can say without a doubt that bringing him home is one of the best things I’ve ever done. When you bring a new dog home it can stressful for them, and for you. It’s always nervewracking at first, especially to see if they settle into the house. For now, I’m just letting him settle first. I’m so happy to work with Stella & Chewy’s because they have an amazing initiative called the Journey Home Fund.

Both Stella and Chewy (the real dogs behind the brand!) were adopted as adult rescues by founder Marie Moody, so senior pet adoption has a very special place in the heart of the company. In order to give back, they’re donating a meal to senior rescues for every bag of Stella and Chewy’s purchased. How great is that!?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Stella and Chewy’s. The opinions and text are all mine.

Deciding to Adopt a Senior dog

Adults and seniors are less likely to be adopted – Burt got passed up so many times as people took home puppies instead – so the Journey Home Fund also drives awareness about the awesomeness of senior pets. Could a senior pet be right for you? Check out some of my advice below!

Deciding To Adopt a Senior Dog

You’re Saving A Life: Senior cats and dogs are abundant in shelters, and unfortunately, they’re usually homeless longer since they’re considered “less adoptable” than their younger counterparts. The shelter when I adopted Burt considers dogs over 6 to be seniors. That’s really not that old! They still have a lot of life to live and love to give.

You Should Still Puppy Proof: When you bring home your new senior pet you should still puppy proof your house. It’s a new environment for them and it can be unpredictable how they’ll act in your space. Lucy and Burt are the same age, but Lucy grew up in my house so she’s kind “over it”. But for Burt everything was new! He was very curious about what was in every cabinet and what was behind every door. An extra tall pet gate became my new favorite thing so I could keep Burt contained in a safe part of the house.

Give Them Some Time: You, your home and everything about your routine is totally new to your senior rescue. Give them some time to get acclimated and settled in to their new life. When I got Burt I heard advice from people who said there’s a rule of 3’s – 3 days, 3 weeks and 3 months are all big milestones of your new dog getting more comfortable with you. I found that to be amazingly accurate. After 3 days I felt comfortable leaving the dogs home alone for a little bit. And after 3 weeks Burt definitely picked up on our routine. We just hit 3 months and Burt has totally chilled out and settled in!

Deciding to Adopt a Senior Dog

Get Them On A Great Food: The transition to a new environment and a new diet can cause stress and an upset stomach, which is not what we want. Try adding canned pumpkin or probiotics to help your new dog’s digestion. Minimally processed foods are able to be digested more easily which can be good for older dogs. All of Stella & Chewy’s recipes are formulated for all life stages and also contain added probiotics and natural sources of fiber, like raw ground bone and pumpkin seed. Thanks to their Journey Home Fund, for each bag of food purchased Stella & Chewy’s will donate a meal to an adult or senior rescue, up to 250,000 meals each year.

Just The Right Amount of Activity: Unlike puppies, older dogs have (usually) calmed down and don’t need as much exercise to tire them out. I walk Burt and Lucy about 2 miles every day and also take them to play with other dogs most days. That’s more than enough activity to have them snoozing on the couch while I get some work done! They love to hike and swim and can definitely keep up with me but they don’t need doggy day care in order to be zonked out!

Deciding to adopt a senior dog

Are you ready to bring home a senior pet? It’s a serious commitment, so make sure you do your research and you’re prepared. If you have any other questions, comment below and I’ll do my best to share my experience. You can also check out What to Expect When Adopting a Senior Pet and learn more about the Journey Home Fund on the Stella & Chewy’s blog.

Love Senior Dogs? Then you’ll also love these posts:
How Acupuncture Benefits Your Senior Dog
Holistic Care for Your Senior Dog and How Much it Costs
Podcast Episode 26: Liz Rubinstein of GingerLead Dog Support & Rehabilitation Harnesses
Burt, A Love Story

Deciding to Adopt a Senior Dog

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Stella and Chewy’s. The opinions and text are all mine.

Journey Home Fund - Give a meal to adoptable senior dogs


  1. Pam

    I adopted a senior, Dexter, at 11 1/2 years of age. Once he and the cat established rank, he fit right in with my other 2 dogs, also seniors. I can’t believe at his age, now 13, he could have so much energy and zest for life. It’s great!

    • Tori

      Thank you so much for adopting a senior! They still have lots of love to give and just because they’re old doesn’t mean they’ve slowed down : )

  2. Alyson

    I adopted a 10 year old special needs doberman. He had had spinal surgery for wobblers, was partially paralyzed on one side and could not go up steps. He could jump off my front stoop (one step) and jump back up. He was with me for almost 3 years, He had a 4′ x 8′ pen that took over my ground floor office with a huge dog bed and two body pillows so he could sleep upright..Bandit loved his space and would put himself to bed in the evening. He was one of the happiest guys you ever met,…. always had a big dobie ‘smile’ on his face and never met a person he did not like. I have also rescued and fostered 2 other seniors (one’s owner had died and the daughter was bringing to the animal control and the other was due to be euthanized that day…..until I could find them new homes.
    Recently I rescued a laborador/doberman 13 week puppy…..Lexi, my $40 rescue, turned into a $2,000 parvo puppy. I call her a ‘dobrador’ my new designer dog! She barely survived but 5 months later has turned into one of the best puppies I have ever raised (she is my 11th). I truly feel rescues are special and know they have had a second chance in life. I have only bought one pure breed puppy in my life, the rest have been mutts or others pure bred discards. Each one was so different but all have been terrific.

    • Tori

      This is so amazing, you’re a special person for sharing so much love with these dogs. And the best part is that they always give even more love back. Life is so much better with them in it! Thank you for sharing your story!


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Tori Mistick is a blogger, podcaster and certified Canine Enrichment Specialist. You might call her a professional dog mom! Tori has a soft spot for senior dogs and loves the color pink. Based in Pittsburgh, PA.


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