While the world is uncertain, the love of a companion animal is not. After all, we know the love of a cat or dog is unconditional, and there are many health benefits to caring for a furry friend, including senior pets.
So, where is the best place to find a companion animal? The shelter, of course, or a local rescue group. If being a full-time pet parent isn’t conducive, fostering a pet is just as rewarding and is guaranteed to save a life. Sadly though, seniors, as with black animals, are often overlooked and are typically the first to be euthanized. There seems to be a pre-judgment when it comes to seniors…. they are untrainable, you won’t have them as long, or they come with issues.
Here’s the real truth, though: shelters, more often than not, accidentally over-age animals. Since examining the teeth is one of the best ways to determine an animal’s age, stray or uncared-for animals are at a disadvantage. So, the 14-year-old dog that caught your eye at the shelter, could actually be only 8 years old.
There are a lot of benefits to adopting a senior pet… they come already trained (and if they don’t, you really can teach an old dog new tricks!). Seniors are also extremely grateful. They’ve had a tough life and only want to spend their remaining years being loved. With a good diet and lots of attention, they can live longer than you might think (and having a young dog doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll have them any longer). And regarding issues… well… who doesn’t have some!
My dog Murphy was a shelter dog with no chance. He was picked up by an animal control officer when he entered an LA county shelter. He was listed as a 13-year-old Pomeranian and was overlooked because of his age and color. The day he was scheduled to be euthanized the volunteer reached out to a local rescue group.
Luckily, Murphy was rescued in time. And he was not 13, he was approximately 9 years old. He was emaciated, covered in fleas, and was in such bad shape the shelter hadn’t neutered him. Now, at 18 years old with heart and kidney disease, and no teeth, he is proof that good things come in small packages.
Bottom line is this… pets are there for us unconditionally and can teach us a thing or two about compassion. It shouldn’t be based on your color, your age, or where you come from. A lesson we should all take to heart when dealing with each other, even among our four-legged friends.
Rachel Weil owns a boutique PR firm, Weil PR, in Los Angeles, and is a proud dog Mom.