Are Two Oldies better than One?

It’s very depressing to see the number of Oldie pairs still listed on the website, week after week, month after month. Sadly, people are reluctant to take on a pair, whatever their age, and rescues up and down the country report that such dogs are the hardest to rehome. But I would encourage anyone who doesn’t already have a dog, and wants to share their home with an Oldie, to please consider adopting an Oldie couple.

Everyone knows dogs are pack animals and crave company. Taking on a ready-made family-of-two means that this basic requirement is met. As such, Oldie pairs are particularly suitable for homes where the owner is out for much of a day, such as full-time working homes. In addition, being reliant on each other, you are less likely to come across problems such as separation anxiety. And two dogs are so much more fun than one! Watching their schemes and antics, and how they interact and play with each other, is a really rewarding aspect of dog ownership while observing their relationship and getting to know their distinct personalities is a true privilege.

My husband and I adopted a pair of Oldies, Milly and Sisco from the RSPCA, via the Oldies Club. We had owned an oldie dog before (Alfie, our first dog) and our intention at the outset had been “we’ll start with one, and get another”. However, it turned out that Alfie far preferred the company of people to that of dogs, which meant he would have been unhappy with another dog in the home. When we started to look for another dog after Alfie died, we decided that since we ultimately wanted two dogs, it made sense to get a pair who had always been together.

Milly and Sisco fitted in perfectly into our home from Day 1, and have been a true pleasure to own. Because they had each other, they settled in very quickly and we’ve never had a problem leaving them (we both work full time). They are very attached to each other, always side by side, and you’d rarely see them in different rooms. They are very loving, and have never had a fight (Milly definitely wears the trousers though, and one look from her sends Sisco scurrying to do her bidding!). They both get on really well with other dogs they meet out on walks and happily play with everyone they meet. Both dogs are very food-orientated, so training them has been very easy (and they seem to learn from each other).

My husband, who originally was more reluctant than me to take on two dogs, now agrees that two dogs are actually half the work of one dog, as they look after each other, and are less ‘needy’ than a single dog – on a walk, they play with each other, freeing you to enjoy your surroundings; in the home, they don’t constantly follow you around, thus allowing you to be in a different part of a house; when you go out, you don’t feel guilty leaving them, as you know they are happy in each other’s company.

Of course, there are some disadvantages to having two dogs. Obviously costs are doubled, for food, insurance and vets fees (one expense that isn’t doubled is kennelling fees, most places, if the dogs share a kennel, will only charge half as much again for the second dog) so you do need to budget for this. But the benefits far outweigh the expenses, and what price knowing that you have prevented a devoted pair, together all their life, being separated in their twilight years, or spending those years in a cold, gloomy kennel?