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!
Guest Post by Kelly Wright, Rover.com
Those of us who have had the honor of adding a rescue pet to our families know what incredible creatures they are — and so do the amazing people working in animal rescue who make these connections possible!
Through our conversations with rescue volunteers for our latest feature, Real-life Heroes: Animal Rescue Volunteers Share How They Keep Fighting the Good Fight, the Rover.com team learned that although there are many of us who are advocates of adopting, rescue pets are still often misunderstood. And unfortunately, these misconceptions often prevent loving animals from finding their forever homes.
Here are a few falsehoods rescuers want to clear up about the animals they save:
All kinds of breeds need to be rescued — even purebreds
It is a flat-out myth that there are only mixed or large breeds available for adoption. No matter what kind of critter your heart desires, you’re likely to find one in your local shelter or rescue.
“What we get a lot of is that people want a purebred, or they need a hypoallergenic dog for allergies. We have those in rescues,” said Lisa Jensen, a Board Member of Safe Haven Animal Rescue in Oklahoma City. “In Oklahoma, we have a problem with puppy mills, and we often get the rejects from the mills. Those kids are great dogs, and purebred!”
And if your local rescue doesn’t have what you’re looking for, Lisa said you can still opt to adopt: “Even in the shelters, we have so many purebreds!”
You’re also not limited to rescuing an adult if you have hopes of bringing a puppy or kitten into your home.
“If you are looking for a younger animal, shelters often have puppies and kittens,” said Jessi Burns, Marketing and Communications Manager of Foothills Animal Shelter in Colorado.
They come with ‘built-in’ benefits
Of course, if you are open to adopting an adult or even a senior pet, there are plenty in need of a good home — and it turns out, there are a lot of perks to picking a pet with a little experience under his belt!
“A lot of shelter animals are adults, so what you see is what you get,” Jessi explained. “When you meet them, you can get an idea about their personality, size, and energy level.”
And this can be especially helpful for parents with younger children, and aren’t looking for another “kid” to raise.
“In addition, most have already lived in a home environment, so they know how to behave appropriately and won’t chew on your furniture or go to the bathroom indoors,” Jessi went on.
They’re truly good pets — the rescues do their homework!
It is true that tragically, many of the animals that wind up in shelters or in rescues have had a rough start, and some are a bit more timid than others due to past neglect or even abuse.
But don’t let that stop you from adoption — the volunteers who work in animal rescue put every effort into rehabilitating animals physically and emotionally, and don’t adopt them out until they’re confident they’re ready for their new family.
“Yes, animals with behavior issues do come into rescue, but those animals are placed in experienced foster homes,” Marina Hebert, a volunteer with Small Animal Rescue Society of BC in Vancouver, pointed out.
Many people who foster have years of experience working with special-needs pets, and work with rescues time and again to make sure that these creatures get the time and attention they need before going off to their forever homes.
“The ones rescues put up for adoption have been carefully screened,” explained Marina.
The close relationship fosterers and rescuers share with the pets they care for not only helps ensure that they’re ready to live with a new family, but also that they’ll end up with the perfect people.
“They’ve spent time with volunteers who know all their needs and quirks, and actually know them so they can match them to the right people,” Marina said.
The truth is, every animal deserves a happy life, no matter how they got their start. If you’re interested in adding a new furry — or feather, or scaly, or even hairless! — family member to your brood, consider visiting your local shelter or rescue.
As Jessi told us, not only will you save a life, but you’ll also make an irreplaceable friend. “I truly believe that shelter animals make the most amazing pets and companions!”
Kelly Wright explores and celebrates the magical and mysterious bond between pets and people for Rover.com’s Animal Heroes section. If you have an amazing story about how an animal has brought joy and wonder to your life, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We celebrate many things in America during the month of November: Veteran's Day; Thanksgiving; National Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month; and Hero Dogs (although I'd like to say “Hero Pets”!)
Recently the American Humane Association honored dogs and their people during the Hero Dogs Awards, celebrating dogs in the line of duty for law enforcement and the military as well as those canines assisting the blind, the disabled, and many others.
Those of us who are pet lovers enjoy an inspiring hero pet tale, and there's no doubt that the Dog Hero Awards inspire people. Yet, on average nearly three million animals are euthanized every year in animal shelters across the United States. Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, parakeets and many other animals die each day while thousands of others are rescued from kill-shelters, puppy and cat mills, and other death traps. Oftentimes, these animals are older and have been used as breeders for people seeking “easy money” through the propagation of litters. National Mill Dog Rescue specifically rescues puppy mill dogs, both young and old, that have been confined in deplorable conditions; volunteers travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, to bring safety and love to dogs that are neglected and used, many of whom have never had the pads of their feet touch green grass. These rescued, mostly scared dogs are groomed, loved, cuddled, oftentimes for the first time. These rescuers, many of whom are volunteers, are the true heroes, saving animals from exploitation, neglect, even danger.
Saving life for some is the 'game of life.' Whether a hero on the battlefield, as many of our military men and women are, a hero rescuing abandoned, neglected, or unwanted pets as are those involved with animal rescue and welfare, or those creatures who save their 'families,' both humans and other animals, from traumas such as fires, drownings, mental and physical disabilities, or intruders … these heroes need to be recognized, honored, and celebrated. People who adopt pets, especially those who adopt the older or disabled, are also heroes. November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Each of us can be a hero to a senior pet in need of a new, loving home. My husband and I recently adopted an 8-year-old Pekingese mix named Lemons; he is still settling in and there are a few issues because he was “an only child” with his previous person, but when Lem licks my cheek with doggie kisses when I return home from work, I know the issues can be resolved.
There are many benefits to adopting an older pet, including (1) most are already house/litterbox trained, and (2) what you see (in size and personality) is what you get. Yet, older animals are less likely to be adopted and therefore may be the ones most often euthanized. You can be a hero and save a life by adopting a senior pet this month! I’m so glad we did! (and this little guy isn’t the only senior pet we’ve adopted over the years…. and likely won’t be the last).
Just as our military men and women are heroes, fighting, often struggling, and dying to keep the rest of us free and safe, so, too, can we 'regular folk' be heroes by saving the lives of animals around the globe. Adopt, volunteer, educate, advocate – step up and be a hero today! The love, dedication, and truthfully the actual life of an animal, is in your hands... mine, too. Let's be the advocate heroes for animals in need today!
I’ve enjoyed the companionship of dogs throughout my life. Most have lived to at least ten, some to be twelve, and Cody, our cocker spaniel who passed in January, was more than seventeen. Cody was deaf and couldn’t see very well during those final months, but one thing he possessed, nearly to the end, was spirit. He was loyal to his people and to his animal friends. That’s a great lesson to learn from an old dog: loyalty.
Sage, the sweet, blind springer spaniel my husband and I adopted in 2001, shared our home and hearts for more than 11 years, living to be 12 ½ years of age. She endured several eye surgeries prior to becoming completely blind due to Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Yet, through it all, she showcased courage and perseverance. Her entire life reflected those traits, as well as kindness, friendship, and compassion.
There’s a lot we can learn from an old dog. Here are a few things:
October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, and November bring National Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. Bring those two together and in October consider adding a senior dog to your household. Just as we can learn from the wisdom of older people, we can also learn from elderly animals – if only we’d open our hearts to what these wonderful creatures can teach us.
There is a wonderful story from last year about a man who adopted an eight-week-old puppy and kept the dog all of his life. Then, as the dog’s quality of life dwindled, the man didn’t abandon the old dog or stick it in a shelter, as many people do; instead, the man took his dog on a trip of a lifetime, like having “a bucket list,” visiting places he wanted to share with his dog. Read the wonderful, heart-warming story and see the moving photos at http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/york-man-takes-dying-dog-bucket-list-adventure/story?id=31338158
Another such heart-warming pet-human adventure story came this past summer: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/13/health/dog-last-trip-trnd/
These stories showcases devotion, love, compassion, and joy. May we find beauty in life around us, in nature, in people, in ourselves, and in our companion animals – no matter what their age.
November is Adopt-a-Senior Pet Month. Although many people don't "ooh" and "ahh" over older pets as do with kittens and puppies, there are many benefits to adopting an older cat or dog. Here are a few:
The number one reason people provide for giving up their pet is “I'm moving.” So, chances are the reason the pet is in need of a new home at it's older age has nothing to do with a behavior or other animal issue – it's simply the result of circumstances... and a human's decision.
There's a lot to celebrate about senior pets! Some of the most wonderful companion animals in need of new homes are older ones awaiting another chance to shower a family or individual with devotion, just as they did with their previous owner.
So the next time you have opportunity to provide a dog or cat with a home, please consider adopting an adult or senior pet. Like my husband and I, you, too, will know the joy of spending time with an adoring, mature four-footed friend and giving that animal a special, loving retirement home. Let's celebrate seniors and provide love and companionship to the older pets in need of adoption!
Call our house the ‘geriatric home for pets: Cody, our cocker spaniel, is more than 15 years old, and Mary, our springer, will be eight in February. Even our two sister cats are considered seniors these days, turning eight last August. We are all enjoying these “retirement years” in spite of some health challenges.
I know all about health challenges in seniors – especially people. My parents, in their mid-70s, have experienced some significant health issues these past few years, including a recent knee replacement for my mother. Just like with senior humans, there is challenge at times with senior pets. However, there is also great joy!
November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and in honor of this special month, I wanted to point out some great reasons for bringing an older, more mature pet into the household:
In my professional and personal life I’ve heard the “oohs” and “ahhs” regarding puppies and kittens, and the toutings of human parents who say “I want a puppy or kitten to grow up with my kids.” Truthfully, age makes no difference when it comes to humans and pets bonding – Cody was nearly 10 when we adopted him, and he is completely devoted to my husband and I – he even tolerates the cats! Cody has been with us for more than five years, and we don't regret bringing him into our household, even in the midst of a health challenge, just as we don't regret helping to care for our aging parents. In many ways, we saved Cody's life, and he has certainly enriched ours! When his little cocker head lays on my lap or his tan-colored body stretches on near me while on the couch and he looks at me with adoring eyes, my heart simultaneously melts and sings!
So, if adding a new pet to your home is on your ‘to-do list’ this month, consider adopting an adult or senior pet – you, too, can know the joy of hanging out with an adoring, mature four-footed friend and giving that adult pet a special, loving retirement home!
It’s often their eyes, jade green or amber gold… Sometimes it’s their friendliness, rubbing against ankles and legs… It may even be their purring motors, soothing and loving as they snuggle into your neck. Whatever the “it” is, cats capture our attention and hearts.
Cats and humans have interacted for thousands of years. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the African wildcat became a frequent and welcome visitor to human habitation, attracted to, and preying upon, rodents that fed on stored grain. Cats also played an important part in Egyptian culture, often being mourned upon demise; cat mummies have been found in huge numbers in this part of the world. Short-haired cats arrived in Italy more than 2,000 years ago and reached England 300 years later. During the Renaissance cats appeared in paintings and literature as objects of affection, raising their status as household companions. Cats were later taken across the Atlantic Ocean to America and spread across the continent.
Although cats often survived simply on rodents during their earlier history, people today care for their cats much like dogs, providing food, shelter, vet care, and affection. Yet, cats seem to be considered more disposable than dogs, with only two percent of lost kitties being reclaimed by their owners. Each year shelters and rescues across the country take in about four million cats; more than 70 percent are euthanized, according to American Humane.
Many types of cats are brought into shelters. Some are purebred, such as Siamese or Persian, while others are typical tabbies. Some are kittens, some are adults, and others are seniors. About 25 percent of cats entering animal shelters are adopted.
No matter the age, type or sex, all cats need compassion and care. From nutrition and attention to exercise and veterinary care, our cats depend on us to ensure their health and happiness.
Caring for cats can be easier than caring for dogs. Fido, for example, needs his daily walk; cats are content with a catnip mouse or scrunchy ball to bat around. Litterboxes serve as lawns, and dry food can be left out for kitty to nibble on throughout the day. However, vet care is just as important as it is for dogs, from vaccinations against diseases like rabies to spaying and neutering to prevent additions to the pet overpopulation problem.
For more information on various cat care topics, visit the ASPCA website: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care
November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month – many older cats find themselves in shelters and rescues because they are lost or because their family can no longer care for them. Consider giving an older cat a home this month and help alleviate the pressure on our rescues and shelters.
There are many benefits to adopting an older cat, including:
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.