Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
My diva Poodle, Henrietta, has been spending an inordinate amount of time at the vet’s recently. She has been plagued with ear infections, a partially torn ACL, infected anal glands (which meant she had to be in a cone) and a neck injury suffered from jumping off the couch in her mad dash to greet someone at the door. I bemoaned this fact to the wonderful Dr. Neno and she said, “Well, Henrietta is middle-aged.” Gulp! Middle-aged! I guess she is, she will be eight in September. Holy, wow, where does the time go?
I understand #SeniorPets as I adopted in my parents very senior (15 year-old) Chihuahua when my dad passed away and my mom moved into a nursing home. It was not easy. It wasn’t an easy transition for poor old Chico, nor for our pets who weren’t accustomed to this smelly (yes, he had a bit of an aroma), growly (likely because he moved from a home where he lived with quiet senior citizens and was an only pet to a house with four cats, two dogs and very loud adults), and more than a little incontinent. It was not an easy time, but we felt happy knowing that Chico was able to live his remaining year in a family who tried to love him and who was with him until the end.
We see too many stories of senior pets that are abandoned at shelters because they are, quite possibly, growly and smelly and incontinent. As animal lovers there was no way we could allow Chico to end his days in a shelter — he was scared enough moving in with us but we like to think we gave him a happy, loving life even though it was a scary transition.
As Henrietta ages, I am preparing myself for the time when she reaches the incontinent stage. I am already accustomed to carrying her up and down stairs because of her neck and leg injuries. It won’t be an easy time watching her health fail (and honestly I am fighting tears right now at even considering that happening) but I know it will. I also know that no matter how difficult it becomes to care for a senior pet, I am in it for the long haul because she trusts me to be there for her and care for her as I have since she was a puppy.
Now that you’ve read about the “downsides”of senior pets (growly, smelly and incontinence) you may wonder what the upsides are? You may be on the verge of adopting a pet and aren’t up to the task of a puppy but think a middle-aged or senior pet may be perfect to adopt and you would be right! What are the benefits of #seniorpets and why are we celebrating them?
Here are some reasons:
- They may be “senior” but they are still lively and oh, so full of love! Senior pets may be more loving and attentive because they understand that you have “saved” them and they will reward you with utter devotion.
- A senior pet doesn’t typically require you go through the housebreaking phase that a puppy would. If you’ve recently adopted a puppy you know that requires dozens of trips out of doors to visit Mother Nature! It’s tiring in the middle of the night, I can tell you!
- Senior dogs or cats are ideal for senior citizens. A senior dog can be a great walking companion, but also one that isn’t so high energy that he will need to be walked for hours on end. A quick stroll around the block will do both you and your pet good — healthwise. A senior cat isn’t likely to shred or climb your curtains and will likely snuggle with you in bed instead of attacking any limb that moves during the night!
- What you see is what you get with a senior. You won’t have to wonder if your puppy is going to “grow into” those huge paws. Will the crazy kitten EVER calm down? If you see a crazy wild senior cat you know that’s what you’re in for.
- Just because she is senior doesn’t mean you can’t teach her new tricks. Senior pets sometimes seem to be more eager to please than a puppy or a kitten.
- If you adopt from a shelter, chances are your senior pet once lived with a family so it’s likely he has good, or better, manners than a younger pet would. He may already know the “sit” and “stay” and “don’t jump on strangers” commands.
- Adopting a senior pet makes you a superhero! You are rescuing an animal from a shelter that may be so confused and terrified, wondering what she did to make her family abandon her. Your adoption of a senior pet offers this animal a new lease on life.
- A senior pet is simply more relaxing than a puppy. If you want a couch potato who loves curling up with a good book, you’re going to find that in a senior more than you are in a puppy.
- If you have your heart set on a specific breed, you can look to a rescue organization for that breed and ask for a senior pet in that particular breed.
Do you have a pet that is approaching his or her senior years? Do you find it more challenging but just as rewarding? If you’re looking for a companion, have you ever considered adopting a senior? We’d love to hear your senior pet love stories!