All of us can appreciate a snuggly puppy. But what about the wiser, often gentler, senior dogs that grace our lives?
Veronica An, a photographer who recently completed a photo series on aging dogs in Japan, aims to bring attention to the ways in which senior dogs are often overlooked. Often, these dogs are passed up even though they are often well-socialized and easygoing companions.
Through her photography, An parallels the aging human population in Japan and the aging dog population in the country. According to An, over half of the dogs in Japan are senior pups, and often senior dogs find themselves surrendered or uncared for.
An is also a member of HeARTs Speak, an organization whose mission is to “unite art and advocacy to increase the visibility of shelter animals.”
An describes the crisis of care for senior dogs in Japan, saying,
“People and pets age in parallel, and many older adults have to give up their animals when they are unable to care for them. Pair this reality with the perception that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and you’re left with a surplus of elderly dogs.”
And yet, according to An, “despite the cultural reverence for age in Japan, most prospective owners request puppies without giving older dogs a chance.”
Though there are some animal rescue organizations that provide critical care and shelter for senior dogs, such as Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK) in Japan, shelters’ ability to help all senior dogs will always be limited. Even more important is changing people’s perceptions of senior dogs as adoptable, loving family members.
An’s photographs show the range of emotions and personalities of these wise pups. Some are in desperate need of a home, while others still have a goofy, energetic side.
Thinking about adopting a senior pup? Adopt a Pet can provide further information on adoptable senior dogs in your area, along with local shelters that provide expertise and resources on senior dogs.
You can find more of An’s work on her website, and on Instagram and Twitter.
Header images via Veronica An. All images used with permission.