Story last updated at 11/21/2012 - 3:13 pm
November is "Adopt a Senior Pet Month" and if you've been pondering the idea of a new pet into your home, adopting a senior pet is an excellent one. It's also a good way to bring a new pet into the home while maintaining some balance in your life instead of the relative chaos of a puppy or kitten. In anticipation of your inevitable question, yes, senior pets can and do bond very strongly with their new owners. Some even believe that these pets seem to understand they have been given another chance at a happy life and waste no time loving someone and allowing themselves to be loved in return.
Animal shelters and rescue groups usually have plenty of healthy senior pets looking for a family or individual to cherish them for the rest of their life. Although shaping the life of a youngster sounds like the most appealing option at first, giving a second chance to an older companion is equally rewarding. They like to share quiet moments, are often already trained in the basics and don't chew or scratch everything in sight. Older pets have plenty to offer - not the least of which is love and companionship. Instead of passing them by when you go to a shelter or mobile pet adoption, stop to spend some time with an older animal (or two); its possible you may just find the most wonderful companion imaginable!
So, what are some of the benefits of adopting a senior pet?
What you see is pretty much what you get
Although an animal's history may be a question mark, many older pets are often given up by their owners who have given a detailed account of the dog's personality or behavior challenges, commands and tricks the animal knows and health requirements. With animals that have unknown histories, caretakers are able to fill in those blanks by spending some time with the animal and a thorough veterinary exam.
And don't forget the age old mystery of size. When you adopt an older animal you'll be positive about your pet's adult size. People inevitably ask how big a puppy will grow to be. I've heard plenty of potential adoptive "parents" look at puppies and kittens and say, "I want a small dog," or "I'd love a really big cat." If neither of the parents is known one can only guess; if one of the parents is known the guess will probably be closer, but a guess nonetheless. When you adopt an adult animal he or she won't grow a bit (unless you over feed him).
Adult animals often already know how to live harmoniously with humans and even other animals. In general, adult dogs and cats require far less supervision and less constant care, which can make them ideal companions for people with already busy lives - including (and perhaps especially) households with very young children. Cats may already be litter box trained and dogs already house trained. An older dog might also have had some obedience training. Even if he hasn't, contrary to popular belief, it is never too late to take a dog to a training class or two.
Physical demands are lower
Fortunately, senior animals are not as demanding as a younger animal. Like any pet, you should give them quality time in the form of attention and walks, but they may be more content to curl up at your feet and take a nap. Older animals will prefer quiet walks to running or active play and aren't as apt to pull you around on the leash or jump up on you or guests that come to your home.
An adult animal's relatively calm demeanor and less intense exercise needs make them the perfect match for anyone seeking friendship and love and in a full-time working household. Older pets can be an especially good fit for senior humans as well for all of the aforementioned reasons. Brining home an older pet can also eliminate the anxiety some older people feel at the idea of taking in a very young animal that might outlive them.
If you already have pets in the household, older pets often make excellent or at the very least, agreeable companions for them as well since they aren't likely to be annoying like puppies and kittens can be.
For more information about adopting and caring for a senior pet contact any shelter or rescue group in your area. They will be more than happy to help.