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.
36 thoughts on “Working Dogs – The Golden Years”
My dog is 15 he was never a service dog but is my best friend , My uncle a state trooper and the K -9 he worked with then retired together and he got to keep him .
We have 3 black lab dogs and they love to do work for us, they are so easy to train.
The only problem is 2 of them are getting old and don’t like to do much work any longer.
My Dad had 2 seeing eye dogs after he was in a car accident that left him blind. He only had one at a time. They both lived out there lives with him. With them he had the freedom to wander outside and know they would aalways bring him home.
My dog is 13. He will walk all off 2 houses than needs to lay down. His is due to his hips but he still needs the exercise
This is an inspiring article about how older dogs can still be so useful and needed. I love the fact that senior dogs can still have such an inspiring life working and being loved.
SO true to give these dogs a nice retirement
Awww animals are the best.
these dogs are so terrific love this story god bless these dogs
I never really thought about working dogs after retirement, I just assumed the handler adopted them.
My neighbor was a K-9 Policeman for many years and he always adopted them.
Now that I know I’m am so glad that there is a place for them to go to be retrained and adopted. It kind of ticks me off that after putting their lives at risk on a daily basis that they were put down. I could rant but I won’t. LOL
I am so glad that these dogs can be adopted after service.
So glad this service is out there for them. Support animals are amazing and deserve truly good lives. But I do believe they are getting a bad deal lately from people abusing the support animal access having all kinds that are untrained brought into stores and on public transport that those do go through training and are meant to be more than just an emotional support animal are getting a raw deal in some instances. These dogs do so much good and those that use untrained animals with phony vests on hurt the whole program for people that really really need this kind of help. Sorry about my rant but I have run into too many people around here abusing this and actually faking the support vest and papers too that it makes me so upset, especially when I see a veteran get scolded because he has one over what someone’s untrained dog did at a grocery store.
They deserve a happy retirement for their service.
I always wanted to work with support dogs. Animals are so wonderful.
This is so awesome! Never gave a thought to what happens to these dogs when they age out of service. It’s important to give them lots of extra love and attention
Oh wow this is so amazing. I do agree all service dogs deserve a great retirement
This is good information. I never really thought about what happens when these dogs can no longer perform the activities in service. A police officer in our town kept his dog after it was retired, and just recently the dog was euthanized due to the severe illness it had. Lots to consider in adopting one, it is great for them to have a good home after doing so much for the public.
I love all dogs, we currently have 3 black labs, I guess I didn’t realize they were working dogs, but they are very smart and strong dogs.
Love this so much!!! Dogs are truly the best animals.
this is awesome. older working dogs deserve the best
I love this programs. senior Dogs deserved to be treated well by humans.
As a former service dog trainer, I can say their retirement years are something to plan for, a working dog’s work life may not be as long as you think it is, and too often they are worked too long. I once saw a seeing eye dog that mourned himself to death when the new service dog came into the house, he had so much anxiety when his owner left the house without him, he stopped eating and would just cry at the door all day, inconsolable. It’s important to give them more than just work attention and to prepare them for the day they will no longer be with you 24-7. Dogs need vacations, down time, play times and to get used to periods of time alone so they will be prepared for the day they don’t work, whether they stay with you or go to a new family, they need time to adjust just like humans do.
Thanks for sharing Athena, those are some very good points!
Great program they deserve it and more.
Thank you for helping to highlight these K-9 heros.
Great post! I think they should have a pension/medical insurance for when they retire. A good home is the best but as you say medical bills stop some people from taking them.
I loved your article. All of these dogs deserve to have wonderful lives.
Dogs are so smart & do a lot to help humans. 🙂
I just love this program. What a great thing to do for senior dogs.
These working dogs are incredible! To have one is a life-changing experience and Mission K9 Rescue helps you have that experience!
Follow Mission K9 Rescue on Facebook to learn more about them and working dogs.
These precious dogs have a right to retire and live out the rest of their lives in peace ☮️
How HORRIBLE that when they were retired, they were retired for good!! ????. These animals were heroes – just like our Veterans. They also aren’t treated any better!! Some people need to get their priorities and loyalties in order!! I am so happy that these dogs are receiving the treatment that they deserve! Everyone gets old!!
Of course, our government treats their Seniors the same way! Except they’re killing us slowly!!
I shared this on Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest! Thank you for sharing!!
What a great program. These dogs deserve the best.
I actually never thought about dogs “retiring” from service. This is such an interesting article. It is nice to know that these dogs are available to the public now. I think a dog like this would really help my daughter who loves dogs, but has anxiety to be close to them. A dog like this would be patient with her.
Working dogs do deserve retirement. I am grateful for such organizations as MissionK9Rescue.
I love this. Service animals have all of my respect and deserve nothing but the best life til the end.
Love this. Dogs(& cats) can be such great working or service or emotional support animals. ????
This really made me happy to know that there is an organization out there looking out for these dogs. These dogs deserve the best in their golden years.