Dogs can bring benefits at all stages of life. Having a pet a whole new dimension to the emotional, mental, and physical undercurrents to our existence. Relating to a pet is like no other relationship. The bonds are strong and uncomplicated. They can be involved in every single aspect of our lives—parts that we consider the most mundane things in life. Waking or sleeping, they are a presence that is constant yet noticeable, gentle yet tangible.
In the earlier and later life stages, pets can figure particularly prominently as important figures in our relationships. Children and older seniors can become particularly attached to their pets, and pets can bring special benefits to those who are less independent. There are benefits and pitfalls to considering pets for either age group.
One caveat is for parents who want to get a puppy for their children. If you have found the right dog for you, and are determined to raise a puppy, you might have legitimate reasons for this. But beware the sentimental thinking that you want to adopt a puppy so that “the dog and the kids can grow up together”. By the same token, some people are tempted to adopt an older dog for an older parent because they are “at the same stage of life”. Both of those are nice thoughts, but they are not realistic.
The fact is that people and pets cannot truly go through stages of life together. It doesn’t happen. No one can truly grow up or grow old with a pet. Dogs grow faster, age faster, and their whole life span is perhaps one phase of life for us. If you get a puppy for your toddler so that they can “grow up together”, your dog will be aging and reaching its end of life when your child is a tween or teen. So don’t choose a puppy for that reason.
Choose a dog based on basic breed and type characteristics. If you find the right dog, it won’t matter if that dog is purebred or mixed breed, from a breeder or shelter, puppy or adult. It will be a perfect match. Specific characteristics and breeds for children and adults will be covered in another article. But adopting a pet is good for many people at any age. With the right knowledge, a dog will form an indelible part of the rich emotional life of a child or of a senior.