November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and since I am a huge advocate for senior pets, I highly endorse: Do it!
If you are looking to add another pet to your family, I can’t recommend a senior enough. They are often among the calmest, most loving, and easy going pets around, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better snuggler. Unfortunately they’re also the hardest group of pets for rescues and shelters to find homes for, so it’s not just phrasing when we say you’ll be saving a life.
You see, I may be a bit biased on this because I have two senior pets of my own, and lost a third in early 2015. I have owned puppies and kittens, and have owned adult dogs and cats, but my favorite companions have been my seniors.
I used to be like most people – I loved puppies and kittens and preferred them if I was ever getting a new pet! But that want had nothing to do with what pets were really best for me and my living situation, and had nothing to do with what was best for the pet. What I saw in puppies was the big eyes, the floppy paws… I overlooked the greying muzzles of the seniors like everyone else.
But then Romeo came into my life.
Romeo was a 14 year old Shih Tzu, wasn’t really new to me. He was an old family pet, and had lived with my sister for most of his life. When my sister couldn’t care for him anymore, she offered him to me, and I couldn’t refuse!
At 14 years old, he needed some TLC when he came home to me. He had been free fed a poor diet most of his life, and so was fairly overweight and unhealthy. He had arthritis that made walking difficult (especially with the extra weight he carried) and between that and the poor food, he had very little energy to spare. It had also been nearly a year since he had been groomed! After switching him to a high quality food, getting him on a feeding schedule, and starting up a regular grooming routine, Romeo blossomed.
His first few weeks with us were rough for him. He was in a new place, with new pet siblings, and a new routine. He had a lot of changes to adjust to! But the longer he was with me, the better he got! The light in his eyes returned and he even had some energy for play! He quickly became attached to me, and rarely left my lap.
He was one of the sweetest pets I’d ever had, and he completely stole my heart. I was converted for life. I fell in love with senior pets and found that caring for Romeo actually helped me better care for my senior clients.
When he passed away in early 2015, I took it much harder than I expected, but I wouldn’t have trade that time with him for the world.
I now have Gerry, a 12 year old Persian cat, and Percival, a 7 year old mixed breed dog. They are fabulous pets, and like a fine wine, they’ve only gotten better with age!
Having these older pets in my life has completely changed my outlook on pet ownership. I take it more seriously, I consider the greater effect my choices have, and I’ve become more outspoken about not only adoption, but senior pet adoption. Fewer years left does not mean they have less love to give, and they deserve our love and care as much as any other.
Please, if you can, adopt an older dog or cat. They’re so worth it!