Saturday, November 22, 2014

SENIOR ANIMALS MAKE GREAT COMPANIONS


Aging is inevitable.  I am a senior and, as much as I would like it to be different, I realize that I cannot do all the physical activities that I did in my younger years with the same fervor.  However, being older does have its advantages.  I find I am a bit mellower and that I have, over the years, gained experience that, for the most part keeps me out of a great deal of trouble.  Senior pets are no different.  They may be a little slower in some areas but they still have a lot to offer, among which is experience and the sweetness of maturity.

Often disputed is the definition of what is ‘old’.  Whether human, canine, or feline everyone has differing opinions based on chronological age, mental acuity, and physical ability.  The common thought is that cats and dogs become senior around seven years old.  Typically, larger dogs tend to have shorter life spans than their smaller compatriots do.  Nevertheless, like the rest of us, given a nutritious diet, enough exercise, regular check-ups and regular grooming there is no reason why an elderly pet cannot enjoy a good life for many years.

Unfortunately, senior pets often end up in shelters for a variety of reasons, most of which are not their fault.  Many times they end up there because their guardians have either died or entered a geriatric facility and other family members, if present, are unwilling to take on the responsibility.  In other instances, their own human family may not have the time, money, or inclination to properly care for the animal after the puppy/kitten stage has passed.

If you are looking for a furry companion to go on extended long hikes or to run alongside you as you jog or bike, then a senior dog may not be for you.  While seniors cannot sustain strenuous exercise for long periods it does not mean, however, that they should be only couch potatoes.  Pets need to stay active and, with regular exercise and/or play sessions, they will be less likely to decline quickly.

With older pets, what you see is what you get.  Not only have they have reached their full-grown size, but their personality has already developed.  Thus, it is easier to see if the animal will be a perfect fit for you and your family.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, is not only a ridiculous adage for us of the older generation, it is also quite ludicrous when applied to pets.  Youths, in whatever venue, typically have shorter attention spans and less impulse control than their more mature counterparts.  Older animals, as a rule, will focus more readily and with better comprehension on the job at hand.  Another positive factor is that senior dogs and/or cats are most likely already housetrained. 

Puppies and kittens are notorious for getting into trouble.  Chewing, scratching, and other unwanted behaviors have decimated untold amounts of furniture and articles of clothing in many households.  Seniors, conversely, often know what appropriate conduct is and do not need the constant monitoring and reinforcement that younger pups and kitties do.

Other food for thought for the more mature is that obtaining either a puppy or kitten can mean many years of responsibility that an older person may not have.  However, to those seniors I would suggest considering a pet who is also in his or her golden years.  Having the companionship of a faithful friend and providing a loving home to an elderly pet can be a win-win for everyone.

Despite some special considerations that an older pet might require, if you were willing to adopt one through your local shelter or rescue, you just might find out what many of us already know … ‘Seniors Rock’!  




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