Working Dogs – The Golden Years
Working Dogs Deserve a Happy Retirement Too
You see them at airports, malls, public buildings, and outdoors. Working dogs assisting the public with a variety of tasks that they perform with talent and drive. Some find explosive, drugs and help catch criminals. Others help the blind or detect oncoming seizures. Working dogs are used worldwide by the military, law enforcement, fire departments, customs, and many private entities.
This is an editorial article to highlight the importance of working dogs and taking care of them during their retirement. We were not compensated for this post in any way.
A working dog will remain in service for many years. The driver toward retirement of these highly trained K9’s is predominantly injury-related that hinders their ability to work. Many of the breeds used like German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are predisposed to have hip issues that can slow them down earlier than a Labrador Retriever that does not see the activity of level the higher drive working dogs do. Some healthy dogs can work to age 13 yet the normal “retirement” age is around 9.5 years.
There is no 401K, Medical, or a Golden Parachute for a retired working dog. In the past, many dogs were euthanized at the end of their service. Now, the public recognizes these dogs for the heroes they are and their retirement options have increased.
Many times, the working dog’s human handler will adopt them, yet at times this is can be problematic. There may be a young child that could have a safety risk with a high drive K9 and as a result, many handlers are left with a dilemma in that not just anyone is qualified to care for these dogs.
Organizations like MissionK9Rescue exist to provide a well-deserved retirement for these dogs that have given their all in service to people everywhere. Rehabilitation and loving homes are the end result of hours spend to help transition working dogs to being a “pet” yet still a “partner”. Mental enrichment and stimulation keep a retired working dog young in mind. Owners take the time needed to keep their pup’s skills sharp, regardless of retirement status. Health is the first consideration in the level of activity that is best for any retired K9. Older dogs can’t run as hard or as fast, and often can injure themselves when trying to do so.
Medical bills are out of pocket for these four-legged wonders after retirement. A number of public charities like the United States War Dogs association help certain working dogs as well as many private groups stepping up to raise funds for their expenses. While humans often perceive veterinary care as cost-prohibitive, when you compare that against the equivalent in human terms it becomes very inexpensive. In the end, it becomes a matter of priorities.
Retired working dogs can be adopted by the general public now. Many families welcome these seasoned soldiers into their homes. Some say that adopting a retired dog is one of the most satisfying decisions they made no matter the amount of time they may have with an older pet.
Give a salute to the Working Dog! The dogs that work for a rubber Kong toy, treats and pats on the head. Perhaps a bit of ice cream too! They never enlisted and so many give their all in the performance of their job. We owe it to them to be worthy of such respect.
PIN this article and share to encourage others to give these amazing working dogs the respect and retirement that they deserve.
Bob Bryant is the chief technology officer of Mission K9 Rescue, an animal welfare group dedicated solely to rescuing, reuniting, rehoming, repairing, and rehabilitating American working dogs. Learn more at www.MissionK9Rescue.org.