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!
There is no escaping aging, not for people and not for pets. As with us, when pets get older more health problems arise. Yet, again as with us, there are things we can do to help them age with grace and dignity. Here are some tips:
Older pets give us deep devotion; we should return the sentiment. The Grey Muzzle Organization, dedicated to helping homeless senior dogs, offers a free downloadable e-book on how to care for an older dog. Visit http://www.greymuzzle.org/Resources/Senior-Dog-Care.aspx to get this great resource.
Another great online resource for caring for a senior pet is PetMD: http://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_caring_for_older_dogs_with_health_problems#.
Enjoy the years with your furry friend, no matter its age –loyalty runs in their veins!
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:
When I turned 50, AARP tracked me down, just like the organization does for thousands of people. There are many benefits to becoming a member, not the least of which is travel discounts. So, becoming “mature” does have its benefits!
Similarly, there are many benefits to adopting and living with a “mature” dog. My husband and I adopted our cocker spaniel, Cody, from our local humane society when he was 10 years old. This sweet and spry little guy was used as a stud dog then tossed away after “services rendered”. Five years later, Cody continues to enjoy his “retirement” years with us, sleeping on warm blankets, taking walks in town, and visiting our cabin in the mountains... oh, yes and eating yummy treats (especially glucosomine!).
Greg and I have enjoyed sharing these years with him. Cody is now 15, and for the past few years he's declined in health. Yet, we are grateful for the time and thankful we didn't pass him up because of his age. Many people would... and do.
Mary, too, is somewhat older. This loving springer/cocker mix we adopted in February is seven years old... yet, outside, she still has the bounce that springers are known for, but she is quiet and mellow inside the home. Mary, too, has made a fine companion for us... and for Cody.
Through the years in both my professional and personal lives, I’ve heard the “oohs” and “ahhs” regarding puppies and kittens, and the toutings of human parents who say “I want a puppy to grow up with my kids.” However, in animal adoption, age makes little to no difference when it comes to humans and pets bonding – most senior pets know the joy of spending time in a family and miss that companionship when they are yanked from their situation and turned into a shelter or rescue; these older gents and ladies are eager to find that sense of camaraderie and security once again. Cody's devotion to my husband and I has been strong since he first came to live with us. In fact, I’m sure if he could talk, he would constantly tell us ‘thank you!’ – his wagging tail certainly does!
There are many benefits to adopting a mature dog. Here are just a few:
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 hanging out with an adoring, mature four-footed friend and giving that animal a special, loving retirement home!
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.