November is the “official” Adopt-a-Senior-Pet month. You may be wondering just what the age of a senior dog or cat is. According to most veterinarians, dogs start entering their golden years at seven years of age. However, smaller breeds of dogs live longer than larger breeds, so the smaller the dog, the later in life he becomes a senior. Cats enter into their senior years a little later, between eight and ten years of age.
Shelters across the nation, both traditional and no-kill, are filled with senior pets. Many people wrongly believe that an adult or a senior dog/cat is in a shelter for one reason: behavioral problems. Pets are turned over to shelters for a variety of reasons. Here’s what The Senior Dog Project (www.srdogs.com) has to say about older shelter dogs, and most of it also applies to cats.
“Older dogs lose their homes for many different reasons ... most of them having nothing to do with problems the dog has, but rather with those of the person or family surrendering the dog ... But, it is not uncommon for very expensive, well-bred, well-trained dogs to outlive their usefulness or novelty with folks who bought them on impulse and no longer want to take responsibility for them.
“Other reasons older dogs become homeless: death of a guardian, not enough time for the dog. change in work schedule, new baby, need to move to a place where dogs are not allowed, kids going off to college, allergies, change in ‘lifestyle,’ prospective spouse doesn’t like dogs. (All these reasons are taken from real case histories.)”
So, why should you adopt a senior pet? Veterinary Medicine at About.com (http:/vetmedicine.about.com) offers the following reasons: “They’ve been around the block ... In many cases, there are people involved who know about the history, personality, and special needs of the senior pet. This knowledge helps match the pet with someone who can best care for them. Senior pets are generally quieter and calmer. They have lived through many experiences and are less likely to get overly excited by ‘everyday’ events.
“They aren’t as likely to eat your sock. With the puppy or kitten days behind them, these pets aren’t chewing, climbing, scratching or eating things that they shouldn’t be.
“They’re ready to go for a walk. Most senior dogs are familiar with a leash, able to meet and greet people and pets in a calm manner, and love going for walks ... Cats don’t go for walks like dogs do, but they can immediately notice a lap, warm computer, or warm laundry just out of the dryer that needs to be occupied ... .
“They listen to you talk. Besides being an excellent listener, senior dogs often know many basic commands, such as sit, down, and stay ... Cats may not seem like they are listening at any age, but they are. Senior pets, by nature calmer and usually wiser for their years, also recognize that ‘no’ means no more quickly than their younger counterparts. . . .
“They will be a loyal and grateful member of your flock. Situations vary, but more often than not, senior pets had a home at some point in their life. Maybe they were rescued from a bad situation or maybe they were surrendered to a shelter ... They know when they have it good. They will love you for it ....”
So there you have it. We have senior dogs and cats who would love to spend their remaining years in a loving, forever home. Come out to meet them or go to our website, www.capsnv.org, to see who may be your next best friend.
To close out this week’s article, we want to again thank the outstanding fabric artists, the Hearts of Gold quilters, who donated not only the dog-themed quilt but also the beautiful red-and-white one that were auctioned at our latest October fundraiser, the Murder Mystery Dinner. To be the recipients of two high-quality works of art for auctioning thrilled our shelter guests as much as it did us.
This week’s article was contributed by Betty Duncan, a member of the CAPS board of directors.