Shelter can be a very stressful environment for any animal, especially an older one. Often, elderly people are turned over to shelters as soon as their age begins to show or their health begins to fail.
Many seniors are overlooked at shelters for adoption, as families often come in need of a small dog or puppy. On the other hand, I would take a senior over a high maintenance puppy any day of the week!
I’ve had senior dogs for seven years now, and have gone through the agonies of losing three of them over the past four years. My current dogs are between 15 and 12 years old. We adopted Romeo at the age of 10, and he’s been in our family for two years now. He is still as brave as any young puppy.
Don’t get me wrong: challenges come with caring for an older pet, but it’s just a different set of challenges than younger dogs.
The label “senior” does not mean “old”. Most large pets are very active and can provide many years of companionship to someone willing to give them a chance. While dogs and cats are often considered seniors when they are 7 to 9 years old, small breeds can live 16 to 20 years. Larger dogs have shorter lifespans, but some live well into their teens with proper care.
Although they are not cute dogs anymore, they also will not chew on your shoes, bark at anything and anyone, wake you up at all hours of the night, or jump over your guests.
Making good matches
Senior pets can also make great companions for seniors. Often, seniors seek the companionship of a pet, but a puppy or kitten may not be the best choice given the energy levels and amount of care required. Puppies can quickly grow into large, strong dogs that need training and, depending on their size, a strong handler.
A mature dog has outgrown the puppy stage of chewing and barking and will likely have a more manageable energy level for a senior. Most are happy lounging on the couch and having nice afternoon strolls.
Lots of benefits
Pets are good for your health, too. The dog owner is likely to get outdoors more and walk regularly to exercise the animal. Pets also provide a natural mental health boost. Pet companionship is especially beneficial for someone who lives alone or doesn’t get out much for social interaction.
A pet is a natural conversation starter with the neighbors when you’re out for a walk. We met our adorable friends on the street because our dogs love to visit with our Bichon, Louie, when he’s out for a walk, too.
In an effort to find homes for senior pets, many shelters and rescues in our area offer special senior pet adoptions, called “fospice” adoptions, in which older animals are placed in a foster home/hospital. The organization provides medical care, while the virtuous family provides all the necessities and a loving environment for the rest of the pet’s life.
Please consider adopting or fostering a senior pet. Older pets should not spend their golden years in a noisy, stressful shelter. Every shelter has seniors who are overlooked for younger pets, and they crave a home with a soft pillow to rest their heads on and a family to love. I can attest that being a dog mom to seniors is very rewarding.
November. 4: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Metairie Bank will partner with the Louisiana SPCA to find permanent homes for homeless pets. Pet Adoption Day will take place in the car park of the bank’s head office at 3344 Metairie Road in Metairie. There will also be gifts and refreshments.
November. 5: The Inner Pup hosts a heartworm and flea prevention clinic from 1 pm to 2:30 pm at Crown of Life Lutheran Church, 11721 Morrison Road in New Orleans. The Inner Pup is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating heartworm disease and providing veterinary services to pet owners who cannot afford it. TIP also offers a dog training program, with vouchers available. More information: theinnerpup.org; [email protected]
November. 6: Animal Rescue New Orleans will be joining Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt Anniversary, 9029 Jefferson Highway in River Ridge, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. for a fundraiser and dog adoption event. There will be lotteries, vendors, and fun things to do for the kids. Tutti-frutti donates 20% of every purchase to ARNO. For more information, please contact @ animalrescueneworleans.org.
Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator at Animal Rescue New Orleans, a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For information about ARNO, visit animalrescueneworleans.org.