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  • Abba Adams

Welcoming Palmer Home: Helping Your Older Dog Adjust to a New Life

Palmer the aussie happy to get a second chance

Bringing a new family member home is always an exciting adventure. But when that family member is an older dog, like my five-year-old male, Palmer, it can be both rewarding and challenging. Palmer is not just any dog; he's the littermate brother of my Flambo and is coming from a less-than-ideal situation. This means he'll need a little extra love, patience, and understanding as he adjusts to his new life. In this blog post, we'll explore the journey of welcoming an older dog into your home and discuss some essential steps to set them up for success.

This is Palmer. Originally, he was sold to a woman who shared a passion for showing and breeding healthy dogs, hoping to contribute to the betterment of the breed. On paper, everything seemed promising - she had experience in grooming, a deep love for the breed, and a genuine desire to make a positive impact.

However, as years passed, her initial intentions took an unexpected turn. Despite owning three dogs from the same breeder, none of them were ever shown. Their breeder made efforts to encourage the owner to get them in the ring, but it seemed like an opportunity missed.

In April Sharon received the call that no breeder ever wants. The owner confessed that the dogs had been bred against the contract, resulting in the loss of one puppy. Desperate to avoid legal consequences, she pleaded with their breeder not to take legal action. It was during this time that their breeder, Sharon, realized the extent of the neglect.

Palmer's former owner attempted to evade the situation by relocating to a different state, but Sharon's primary concern was rescuing the dogs from their unfortunate circumstances. She went to great lengths, including hiring a private investigator to track down their whereabouts. In a compassionate gesture, she offered to forego any legal action pretaining to the broken contract if the dogs could be safely and swiftly returned.

Despite the owner's attempt to manipulate the situation by bribing transporter to lie and say the dogs ran away, the three dogs began their journey to Texas, away from the troubles of their past.

Australian Shepherd being rescused

Sweet Palmer bore the scars of his ordeal, with a head wound and a body that had been reduced to skin and bones, a dull dry coat and stained. He did not know his name, and his body was covered in fleas. It was evident that he had suffered physical harm. The six-year-old female was even worse, having been subjected to multiple pregnancies, including one just months prior. She, too, was skin and bones, worse off than Palmer and was reduced to a shell of herself. No idea of her name at 6 years old. As for the youngest, we can assume she was the favorite, for she knew her name and had managed to maintain a somewhat healthier weight.

Now, here's where things get really concerning. Palmer's previous owner admitted that the four-year-old female dog had never seen the inside of a vet's office or recieved any shots. It's sad to say, but it's likely that Palmer hadn't either because she refused to provide any proof of vet care for him.

But it's not just about vet visits; it's also about the everyday care that was missing. These poor pups were never given any protection against common problems like fleas, ticks, and heartworms. You see, these are things that most dog owners take for granted – keeping those pesky bugs off and protecting your dog from heartworm disease.

Palmer's body showed the toll this neglect took on him. He was infested with fleas, and the lack of heartworm prevention meant he is at risk for a potentially life-threatening condition. It's a stark reminder that being a responsible pet owner isn't just about the fun stuff; it's about taking care of their health and well-being too.

Australian Shepherd in a crate

1. Create a Safe and Comfortable Space

Palmer may have had a difficult past, so it's crucial to provide him with a safe and cozy space where he can relax and decompress. Set up a designated area with a comfortable bed, some toys, and water where your dog can retreat to when they need some downtime. This will help them feel secure and gradually become more comfortable in their new environment.

2. Be Patient and Respectful of His Pace

Every dog is unique, and Palmer is no exception. Understand that your dog may take some time to come out of his shell and fully trust you. Avoid overwhelming your new dog with attention and let them approach you on their terms. Patience is key during this adjustment period.

3. Establish a Routine

Dogs thrive on routine, and it provides a sense of security. Try to establish a daily schedule that includes regular feeding times, potty breaks, and exercise. Consistency will help Palmer understand what to expect from me and make him feel more at ease in his new home.

Three Aussies standing next to each other

4. Socialization and Exposure

While it's important to give your new dog some space initially, gradually expose them to different people, places, and experiences in a controlled and positive manner. This will help them build confidence and become more comfortable with the world around them. Keep these early outings short and pleasant to prevent overwhelming them.

I picked Palmer up while at a dog show so I was able to get a general idea of how he was around lots of noises, crowds, dogs, children running, food, etc. By doing the AKC Farm Dog I was able to see how he was around goats, chickens, a baby pig and see how he handled different sourfaces including metal, tarp and hay. I am very lucky that he was rock solid.

Australian Shepherd getting his FDC title

5. Training and Positive Reinforcement

Older dogs can still learn new tricks! Invest time in positive reinforcement training to build a strong bond with Palmer. Reward-based training methods can help him understand your expectations and feel more integrated into your family. Palmer seemed extremely happy to finally have a job and got his Canine Good Citizen and Farm Dog title after three days!

6. Health and Wellness Check

Ensure your dog receives a thorough health checkup from a veterinarian soon after his arrival. Address any medical issues promptly, and establish a wellness plan to keep him healthy and happy in the long run.

Two aussies sleeping next to each other

7. Provide Love and Attention

While giving Palmer space is essential, it's equally crucial to shower him with love and attention. Spend quality time together, engage in play, and show him that he's a cherished member of our family. This will help him feel secure and strengthen our bond.


Bringing home an older dog like Palmer is a tiring and rewarding decision. While he may have faced challenges in the past, with the right approach, he can thrive in his new home. Remember that patience, understanding, and love are the keys to helping your older dog adjust to their new life. By following these steps and giving them the time they need, you can ensure that your new dog enjoys a happy and fulfilling life as part of your family.

Where are the others now?

The 6 year old female is now name Alie, by a twist of fate her perfect home fell into her lap. While at the dog show my roommate's parents drove up to watch the dogs show. They had just lost their family dog only two weeks prior, she had lived a full and very spoiled life and being around their grand dogs I think helped a little.

A Aussie sitting on a couch

I joked after they left that they needed an aussie when my roommate said "They actually asked about getting information on one for the future". The lightbulb went off in Sharon's head and she sent them infomation about Alie, we met them on the way home for them to take her on a test trial because they didn't know if it was too soon but it was love at first sight.

She now gets to go the work with her mom, hang out and watch TV with her dog and be absolutely spoiled on the farm.

The youngest Jojo, is with Sharon to be trained and evaluated and after that she will decide what is best for her.

But all are safe and happy.

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