An animal’s love is a gift that should be cherished. The same goes for a senior animal.
Every animal I see melts my heart. Every happy adoption story, a stranger I see walking their furry friend, or every time my own middle-aged rescued cat looks at me, I can’t help but smile.
Sometimes I remember how, while cute and fluffy, our pets are indeed animals and are very intelligent. Dogs, for example, are believed to be as intelligent as a two-year-old. And some say cats have a type of internal clock, allowing them to recognize certain points in the day.
While our pets are little Einsteins in disguise, it’s not just their brains that win us over. It’s their hearts, too. The beautiful truth about pets is that their hearts are pure. They’re compassionate. This is true for pets of any age.
My Boston Terrier of sixteen years had an endless amount of love for me up until the day she passed. My 8-year-old cat shows me every day how much he cares for me by snuggling up in my lap, purring like a full-on motor. I see this behaviour more when I’m having an off day, and he’s there to lift me up.
No matter the age, pets are perfect companions.
Too often, senior dogs are overlooked during the adoption process. People look for the youngest bundle of fur and sadly don’t consider the elderly pals wagging their tails, grey fur dusting their faces. Their tired eyes are full of hope and warmth, ready to share their love with someone.
Senior pets, dogs, and cats alike are an excellent choice if you’re looking to adopt, and no one should dismiss them! If you’re thinking of adopting one, you should. And here are four reasons why.
1. They have a lot of love to give.
While all dogs have an abundance of love to give, senior dogs have years of experience. They are usually more than willing to cuddle up by your side while you watch TV or read a book. They don’t ask for much and don’t expect much. They just want your undying love and affection. The comfort of a secure roof over their heads, a human who loves them, and daily meals are enough for them.
Remember, senior pets have experience with humans. Some positive, some negative. But they are also very forgiving. They know how to love, and most know what it feels like to be loved. Adding them to your home not only enriches their life but yours too. Adopting them gives you a companion and a new family member. No matter how many years they have left, you can bet they’ll give you all the love they possibly can.
2. Seniors are superb roommates.
This is especially true for cats! You often see kittens and younger cats plotting how to smash your latest glass bowl off of the counter. With older cats, what you see is what you get. They tend to nap more and simply don’t get into as much trouble as their younger feline friends. They keep to themselves unless, of course, they’re in the mood for cuddles, food, or a bathroom trip.
The beautiful thing is many of them do love to just mellow out and snuggle. When you come home after a long day at work and put your feet up, you can expect your feline friend to join you. After all, your cat had a full day of intense cat activities and deserves a rest too. It’s exhausting sleeping all day!
That’s not to say they won’t be trouble makers. But more often than not, they’d rather snooze than terrorize your couch.
3. Training? Done!
While puppies are fun, the training process is tedious. While quick learners, they have a short attention span. Most senior dogs have basic obedience training. More than likely, their previous owners taught them commands such as; sit, shake and lie down. This is beneficial to you because it saves you time and energy from having to teach those specific commands.
If it turns out they don’t know any commands, they’re also excellent learners. Since they’re calmer and more patient than a puppy, the training shouldn’t be as difficult.
If you’re training, just remember to do it in sections. A few minutes here and there will go a long way for a senior dog. Also always remember to use treats! This sort of motivation will make the dog want to listen to your commands, especially if there’s a juicy bone with their name on it.
Dogs have the ability to learn over 100 words, which is wild. So, when someone says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, they lied — you totally can. My elderly dog was well over ten years old when I taught her how to shake her paw. She was patient and eager to learn.
This also applies to senior cats! When I adopted my older cat, Tao, he was already litter trained. Which is fantastic, because training a cat to use the litter can be a difficult process.
4. You’d be saving a life.
Pets get surrendered to shelters for many reasons; death of an owner, financial reasons, medical reasons, or even neglect. But it’s hardly ever their fault for being there. Yet, many dogs and cats risk living out their lives in shelters. Especially elderly pets. Millions are euthanized in the U.S. each year. This can be for different reasons, but their age is a big one. They get deemed “unadoptable.”
The sad truth is the older an animal gets, the likelihood of getting adopted trickles down. You may be their last hope. People look for young, energetic pups or kittens rather than a senior. This breaks my heart because as said above, senior pets have just as much love to give if not more. They deserve a second chance at a happy life. Not only would you be saving their life, but they would be fulfilling yours.
There are many ways to adopt.
Rescues often offer a “foster to adopt” program, where you can bring the dog (or cat) home and see if they would be a good fit. Or if you can’t adopt, you could volunteer. Many rescues need help with certain tasks like walking and cleaning. This also gives you the opportunity to love up on as many pets as possible!
There are also many rescues in North America that specialize in senior pets! One in San Francisco, Muttville, has found homes for multiple senior pets. Their success stories are touching. It’s truly beautiful seeing how many dogs they’ve helped.
If you’re in Ontario, Canada, there’s an excellent rescue called Ozzie to the Rescue. While they don’t specialize in just senior dogs, they do take in a lot of puppies, owner surrenders, seniors and handicapped pups. They often rescue dogs from places like Texas and South Carolina and transport them to Canada.
Your local Humane Society is also a great option, especially if you’re looking to adopt a senior cat. Due to the number of cats they usually have, this would be a great place to find your forever friend.
An animal’s love is incredibly special. I’m not saying to never adopt a younger animal. They have many amazing qualities as well. But the next time you’re looking to adopt, don’t be afraid to take the time to consider a senior pet. You may find yourself looking into a pair of wise eyes ready to love you with everything they have.
Feature Image provided by Ozzie to the Rescue.