My husband and I recently adopted a Pekingese mix, adding him to our household that includes felines. This is not the first time I’ve brought home a new dog into a family with cats, but it is the second time I’ve faced challenges.
More than eight years ago I adopted a cocker spaniel named Cody; he came into a household that included a blind springer spaniel and two young cats. My kitties had become accustomed to living with Sage, the blind springer, so they naturally gravitated toward Cody. That’s when I was reminded not all dogs are used to cats, and the chase was on! For many months Cody “protected” Sage and me from those pesky felines (in his mind) and the cats remained secluded from the rest of us. I was to a point where I thought of re-homing him. But, one day, one of the cats stood up for herself, swatting Cody in the face when he chased her, rounding the corner of the bedroom. That action caught him by surprise and chasing cats became history.
Cody passed away in January at more than 17 years of age. Now, we’re facing the same situation with Lemons – a cat-chasing newly-adopted dog. This time, however, my cats are much older and a bit crankier due to arthritis… and I’m sure despondent because they’ve been displaced by a dog not much bigger than themselves. You would think I’d have learned how to properly introduce pets – in particular a dog to cats. We’ve only had Lemons less than a week, so I’m hoping implementing ideas from the American Humane Association can still be applied.
This wonderful pet rescue organization suggests several steps to introduce a new dog into one’s home that includes cats. Here are some of the recommendations:
I’m hoping to not have to use a professional behaviorist or take our newly adopted dog back. Cody ended up working out just fine with our cats; I’m believing Lemons will, too, with hopes that his Toy Spaniel sweet temperament will kick in as he becomes more comfortable in his new home, our home, and that the cats will adjust to him as they did to Cody. However, I’m also aware their older ages (Lemons is 8 and the cats are 11) may be a hindrance to that adjustment… but I’m hopeful that’s not the case.
Read more information on introducing dogs and cats to one another, including bringing a new cat into a household with a resident dog, by visiting the American Humane Association’s website: http://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/introducing-dogs-to-cats/.
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.
My husband and I lost our beloved cocker spaniel, Cody, this week. He was nearly 18 years old and had lived with us for nearly eight years. Our hearts are broken, even though we knew this day would come. Despite our sorrow, we are thankful for the many years, more years than expected when we adopted him for our local Humane Society animal shelter; he was almost ten years old at the time.
In my blog post today at Writing Wranglers & Warriors, a blogging site primarily made up of writers of differing genres and interests, I write a Tribute to Pets, including Cody and Sage, the blind springer spaniel my husband and I were blessed to have for more than ten years. Both Cody and Sage are characters in my inspirational dogs books and stories, and both have positively impacted people's lives, including my own. I hope you'll stop over at the Writing Wranglers site and perhaps remember the pets who have touched your heart and positively impacted your life.
Here's the link: https://writingwranglersandwarriors.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/a-tribute-to-pets/
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!
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.