November is Senior Pet Adoption Month. It’s a heartwarming title that could make any pet lover all warm and fuzzy inside– that is, the idea of saving an elderly dog or cat from the clutches of death. Their reward being complete adoration from the animal they saved.
And as much as we all would love that to be the ending to every story, it just isn’t.
There’s no denying that senior pets are often times, although not always, simply easier.
- They tend to be lower energy
- Easier to handle
- Sometimes more laid back and even tempered
- Can sleep a lot.
This makes them a perfect candidate for new owners, owners with gentle children (sometimes), and busy adopters.
There are also a number of good reasons that a senior is NOT the choice for you.
- They may not be able to do rigorous activity
- They can have long-term health issues or existing issues (so can younger dogs, but the type of health issues are different)
- Death is a nearer reality
- Some older dogs lack patience, especially with young children or other active pets in the home
And like any new pet you adopt, even senior pets can have behavior issues.
Our family has been involved in fostering for a number of years. Last year, I saw an American Bulldog in the local shelter and fostered him for a rescue group. I was told that he was 5. But shelters have to quickly guesstimate ages for adoption paperwork and the vet verified he was about 8.
Jo was in reasonable health despite some battle scars and a benign growth we had to get removed. He had a sore shoulder from an old injury that acts up in cold weather, but old men always have some aches and pains.
Overall he was a different foster dog. His strong pulling on the leash and knack at darting out the door and running like the wind eventually gave way to more peaceful walks and more attentiveness to his escape routes. He was strong, he was stubborn, he was smart, and he was amazing with my youngest son.
One day Jo proved his devotion when I was carrying in groceries from the car. I thought my then two year-old was inside the house but he had gone around the back near the water. I saw Jo run outside and went back out to do our usual “chase me down” routine. Instead, he was standing between the water and my child. I picked up my son and Jo went back to the front door to be let inside.
Needless to say, he is ours now.
There are a few basic ways to adopt your senior pet.
Shelters are always full and have a variety of breeds to choose from. They move through quickly and may not show signs of disease until in your care. It’s a big gamble for what your pet might be harboring, so be prepared for a few surprises at your first vet visit. On the positive side, your pet should already come vaccinated and spayed or neutered– at a huge discount than what you would pay out-of-pocket.
Rescues also showcase their animals on sites such as Petfinder.com. You can browse listings, read detailed descriptions, and fall in love before you meet. However, every rescue has their own policies for who qualifies for an animal. The more popular the breed, the harder it can be to adopt that type of dog. Some rescues are very easy to work with and some are not.
Prior to sending their pet to a shelter, some owners try to re-home them on their own. This can be a good option– if both parties can agree on a fee and the pet is a great fit for the new family. Just do a lot of research about what questions to ask the former owner. And always get the old vet records.
Stay tuned for some senior pets we will showcase this month. Maybe your perfect match is only a “click” away.