In Praise of Senior Pets
by Lee Chambers
November was Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and despite the fact that December is upon us, that message rings true 12 months a year.
One of the most heroic things an adopter can do is take on an animal who is older. As with any age group, adopting a senior pet comes with its own set of considerations. On the plus side, with maturity comes a welcome lack of shenanigans. Curiosity-fueled rampages, sometimes resulting in destruction to your property or possessions, are familiar territory with puppies and kittens. Elder pets got that out of their system some time ago, and somebody else paid for those days.
There's a good chance that a senior pet will be housetrained and will know that your fingers and toes (especially during your sleeping hours) are not their chew toys. If your lifestyle is a bit on the slower side, you've met your match, because older dogs and cats make good use of couch time with their people. They know when they're lucky enough to have landed in a loving home, and they will bask in the glory of your company in appreciation.
Their personalities are fully-formed after the puppy/kitten and teenage years have passed. If a cat is especially interactive or a bit more independent, what you see is what you get. If a dog is pretty unrattled by many visitors to your home, or tucks tail when a stranger approaches, you can know what to expect from him socially. Size matters, too. How many times have people adopted a sweet, tiny puppy only to be taken aback when he grows into his adult breed size, which may surpass pet size or weight restrictions if they rent their homes. With a senior pet, there won't be any surprises there.
Since one of life's greatest luxuries is napping, you will have a very willing pet partner to join you for any of those indulgences. There are plenty of senior pets who are still bright-eyed and playful, have a wonderful energy level and embrace a chance to burn off some calories, but who among us doesn't love curling up for a little snooze? To drift off to sleep serenaded by their contented purring or snoring? Bonus.
Of course, one of the biggest concerns people will understandably voice about adopting an older pet is “I won't have as much time with him as I would with a puppy or a kitten.” Odds are, that’s true. But this is where adopters have the opportunity to really make a difference in an animal's life. At Dakin Humane Society, we're proud of the fact that all adoptable animals in our care will stay in our care until their person comes for them some day. So, those seniors (as well as all other animals) get attention, love and interaction from staff and volunteers, but it's just not the same as being in someone's home. The sense of love and contentment that animals feel when they know they're “finally home” makes their eyes shine brighter and gives them the spirit to embrace every day.