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!
In honor of America's Independence Day, let's look at some of the dog breeds that are “made in America.”
The Alaskan Malamute is the largest and oldest Arctic sled dog breeds. Although not designed to race, this dog's great strength and endurance makes it a formidable hauler of goods over long distances. It's named for a native Innuit tribe in Alaska.
Known for its bright, white coat and deep black lips and nose, the American Eskimo is an active, intelligent, and loving dog that was once used in circuses as a trick performer. “Eskies” do well in conformation and agility competitions. Despite it's name, the breed has nothing to do with Eskimos – it's lineage is European Spitz dogs.
Another breed with a name that fools is the Australian Shepherd. They were likely developed by Basque shepherds who came to America from Australia during the 1800s. These quick-witted, quick-footed dogs are versatile and intelligent workers, serving as pet therapy dogs, ranch dogs, and search and rescue dogs as well as family companions. They perform well in obedience and agility competitions.
The American Foxhound is one of the rarest American dog breeds as well as one of the oldest. George Washington, first president of the United States, is known as the father of the American Foxhound. This breed is bred to run and hunt, and therefore, is quite energetic.
The American Staffordshire Terrier, also called the Am Staff, is bred for intelligence and endurance; it's a great competitor in agility, tracking and obedience trials. The Am Staff is related to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England and is loyal and protective of its human family.
Another American breed with ties to England is the American Cocker Spaniel. These dogs are smaller in stature and with a different head shape than their English cousins. Though originally used as sporting dogs, most cockers today are companion animals.
The sturdy, muscular American Bulldog also differs from its English counterpart, having longer legs. This breed almost became extinct by the close of World War II. Loyal, determined and courageous, these dogs were used for bull baiting centuries ago, and though not naturally hostile, some municipalities consider it a bully breed.
Also a rare American breed, the American Water Spaniel is noted for its unique curly coat and excellent retrieving ability. It was developed in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. It's heritage is the Irish Water Spaniel and the Curly-coated Retriever. This breed is known as a wonderful sporting dog and family pet. It is the state dog of Wisconsin.
The Boykin Spaniel is another American spaniel that serves as an official state dog (South Carolina). This breed developed from a small stray dog that became an incredible retriever. Known for its love for people and its stamina, the Boykin is an excellent waterfowl and game bird retriever.
Such dogs seem to be liked by many states. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the state dog of Maryland. This breed originated during the 1800s from the mating of Newfoundlands with retrieving dog breeds. The “Chessie” is an intelligent, active dog that excels as a waterfowl retriever.
Originating from crossing an English bulldog with a white English terrier, the Boston Terrier is a smaller dog breed, developed after the Civil War as a fighting dog. Now known as the “American gentleman”, this little black and white dog is mostly a house pet, and is considered intelligent, loving, and loyal.
The Redbone Coonhound is a vocal breed that traces its heritage to Scottish and Irish red foxhounds brought to America about 300 years ago. Known for speed and agility, these dogs are also excellent swimmers. Their purpose is treeing game. This breed is fairly new to the American Kennel Club (AKC) competition, being recognized in 2010.
Another hound new to the AKC competition is the Treeing Walker Coonhound, recognized in 2012. This energetic, friendly dog's purpose is to track and tree raccoons. It is known for its great endurance and willingness to please.
There are several other American dog breeds. Learn about them and other breeds recognized by the AKC at www.akc.org.