Updated: Mar 9
In the spring of 2014, Goldie found us visiting her shelter and her love won us over!
We adopted Goldie from the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter; it was actually her second
stay at the shelter. Her first stay was when she was a pup and now, she was 6 years old and returned to shelter because her owner passed away. We were actually looking for a younger pup, but we just found it too hard to turn her away. It was our first time adopting a senior pet and it hasn't been my last. She became an instant family companion, (we did change her name to Gaby). Gaby never left my side, and never had any behavior issues, she was such a beautiful and faithful soul. What struck me most was that always frequent "look" that she would give me, that I've never seen in any of my other pets. It was just a loving grateful look that for some reason, you could sense she was grateful that she was given another chance and a stable home to live. Thus began my passion to promote awareness of adopting senior pets and starting Three Corner Woods.
FOUR GOOD REASONS TO ADOPT A SENIOR PET:
You are saving a dog or cat's life. Let's face it, most people looking to adopt a new pet are looking for the cute puppy or kitten, people are not lining up to adopt the great seniors out there. (Approximately, 4 million adoptable dogs and cats are killed each year in the United States). Buying a pet from a breeder or pet store contributes to this unnecessary statistic.
Adopting a senior pet could mean less time training the pet by you and your family. Many have already learned the basics, depending on their history. The shelter should be able to identify any training needs for you. You can avoid the messes from potty training and the puppy chewing stages. You can teach old dogs new tricks! Older dogs tend to focus well because they have mellowed and learn quickly.
Instant companionship, ready for walks, hiking, car trips and other things you like to do. Seniors find care and comfort with their forever home, and they show their appreciation with love and companionship.
Personality match: what you see is what you get! Their personality is already developed, and you will be able to spot particular characteristics you are looking for. Shelters are able to assess the personality of each pet up for adoption, and carefully match you up with the right dog or cat for your lifestyle.
There are some obstacles with adopting senior pets. You may or may not have any idea about their past history, including their age, birthdate or how they were treated. There is also the possibility of health needs of an aging pet; the shelter should be able to identify any of these needs upfront at the time of adoption. Finally, you likely will not have as many years with your pet as compared to adopting a puppy or kitten; but that doesn't make the time with you any less significant.
What constitutes a senior pet? Generally, any pet 6 years old and older could be classified as a senior pet, but this often depends on the breed. In general, large and giant breeds tend to hit the senior age at 6 or 7, medium sized breeds around 8-9, and small breeds at 10-12 years old. Most shelters consider pets as seniors at the age of 6 years old.
Since adopting Gaby, I have adopted a second senior pet from the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, a beagle named Maggie. Unlike Gaby, Maggie has an unknown background, as she was picked up as a stray from the dog warden and the closest guess was that she was between 7-10 years old. She immediately fit into the home and has been a constant companion. Gaby crossed the rainbow bridge in November 2020, and I think of the old girl every day, but I wouldn't trade the time she was part of my life for anything.
Adding a pet to the family is a moment of joy, and a big decision. Before you adopt one of those playful puppies from the shelter, consider the benefits of adopting an older dog or cat. For good reason, you might just fall in love with one, and there is nothing more rewarding to the shelter as a successful adoption.
Jim Faust is the owner of Three Corner Woods (3cornerwoods.com) a pet lifestyle market, offering pet treats, products for senior pets, coffee and much more. They also donate a portion of net profits to shelters to help offset the costs of the adoption process of senior pets.