Sage Advice: Older Man Teaches Younger Dog New Tricks

June 19th, 2019

An aging man wrestles with judgment after adopting a puppy

Puppy adoption

Dear Amy: I am a 74-year-old retired man. Over the course of my lifetime, I have had five or six dogs.

I live alone and my last dog died about a year and a half ago.

I’ve debated getting another dog for several months.

I preferred a dog that was a tad older, however, these dogs are hard to come by.

So after reading an article saying that it’s a great idea for a senior person to get a pet, I broke down and purchased a five-month-old golden retriever puppy.

“Daisy” is a great dog. She has changed my life by making me more responsible. I am getting up earlier (I found myself getting very lazy), and I’m walking her six to seven times daily, feeding her, playing with her, etc.

What has taken me aback are the number of people who have said, “You do realize that this dog may outlive you?”

Yes, I knew that this was a possibility going in, but my lady friend is eight years younger than I and would take Daisy in a heartbeat.

My son is also a dog lover and has said that he would gladly take her.

I guess what shocks me is the negativity so many of my acquaintances have shown since I brought Daisy into my home.

Your thoughts?

– Second Thoughts

Dear Second Thoughts: Before I heap praise onto your healthy and laudable choice to get an animal companion, I have a bone to pick: With an estimated 6 to 8 million dogs living in shelters throughout this country, no one should purchase a puppy – especially you, because – according to you – you didn’t want one!

Older dogs are readily available. These days using online tools, finding a good fit between human and pet is easier than ever. The website for the ASPCA ( offers an endless roster of adoptable cutie pies, searchable by ZIP code!

And “senior” animals – like “senior” people – tend to make wonderful, mature companions.

It is rude for anyone to speculate about your longevity in contrast to your dog’s – and yet you could assume that people are sincerely trying to ask if you have a plan for your pet, should something happen to you.

And your answer is: “Are you wondering what might happen to ‘Daisy’ if something happens to me? Well, I’ve got it all figured out. Thanks!”

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2019 by Amy Dickinson

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