Animal shelters and rescue organizations often find difficulty in the adoption of senior pets. Our society values youth and beauty, even in animals, therefore senior pets are often overlooked when people consider adopting. However, like mature humans, senior pets offer positive life experiences and provide special companionship.
The month of November is recognized as Adopt-a-Senior Pet Month, a time that animal welfare organizations promote the benefits of adopting senior pets. There are several good reasons that people should adopt mature animals.
In 2008, my husband and I adopted a 10-year-old cocker spaniel that had been used for breeding then then tossed away. We hesitated about adopting him, but we love spaniels, and recognizing his chances of being adopted were not great due to his age, we decided to bring him home and grant him his last few years with a loving family. That dog lived to be nearly 18 years of age! I think in part because we gave him a secure, devoted home, but also because he had a buddy with whom to share life.
In 2013, we again adopted after the passing of our 12-year-old springer spaniel (the cocker, Cody, was still with us and was nearly 15). Cody needed a pal and we needed another companion, recognizing Cody’s ever-increasing age. Therefore, we adopted Mary, a springer/cocker mix; she was nearly 7 years old at the time. We wondered if the 8-year-age difference might be a detriment, but, because of Mary’s low-key, sweet demeanor, the two got along very well, and I believe she enhanced the last 2+ years of Cody’s life, even likely extending his life. Because of her older age, Mary’s personality and size were already in place – there was no guessing. She has been a wonderful addition to our family, devoted, kind, friendly, and sweet, and she helped us cope with Cody’s passing in early 2016.
Some people think if an older dog or cat is in the shelter there must be something wrong with it – not so! Many senior pets are relinquished because the owner can no longer care for them due to the person’s health or even death of the owner. Some of the most wonderful companion animals in need of new homes await another chance to shower a family or individual with devotion and affection, just as they did with their previous owner.
Consider adopting an older pet next time you’re looking for another furry companion. You may ultimately be saving a life – and enriching your own!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.