Five reasons to adopt a geriatric pet

by Heather Kallevig

senior pet adoption - Elliot and Chester

Elliot & Chester – Courtesy of Elliot’s Facebook Page

You may have read a story that has gone viral recently of Nicole Elliot and her companion, Chester. When Nicole entered the animal shelter to rescue a dog, she may not have intended totake home an older dog, especially one whose days were numbered. But when she looked into the cage, saw Chester’s soulful, wise eyes and gray beard, she couldn’t resist. Chester was staying at Animal Ark, a high-kill shelter and was battling terminal cancer. Elliot decided to take him home and give him the best final months possible. She created a bucket list, and together, she and Chester embarked on an amazing journey. Fortunately she shared it with the whole world on her Facebook Page – Chester’s Final Journey. People followed along as Chester explored new bucket list sites including a visit to the world-famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand. Though Chester didn’t live long, the memories he and Elliot created are forever. Elliot continues to maintain his Facebook page, promoting other senior pets, and has started a foundation to encourage their adoption.

If you have ever considered adopting a senior pet or “geriatric dog or cat,” you should definitely give it a try. Yes, there are hardships linked to this choice, but the rewards for you and the pet are resounding. If you are considering this choice, continue reading. Below are my top 5 reasons to adopt a geriatric pet.

  1. They know the ropes.
senior pet adoption - old dogs are comfortable quote

Photo from kristenlevine.com

Geriatric dogs have more than likely lived in a family for many years and are experienced with love, guidance, and household expectations. In many cases, these pets have lost a family member to age, moving, or lack of interest. That being said, they are used to living in a home, are often potty-trained, and may already know some fun tricks and commands they’d love to share with you. They may be older but they still love to fetch, sit, shake, and share sloppy kisses.

  1. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

Don’t believe the old adage, because you definitely can teach an old dog new tricks. They’re just as intelligent and willing to please as young ones. For example, my sister’s dog lost her hearing a few months ago to a surgery, and has since successfully learned sign language. Whether you want your new friend to ring a bell at the door or understand new games, have the same patience you would with a puppy, and you and your new friend will develop some fun activities together.

  1. Gray is beautiful.

senior pet adoption - gray muzzleThis goes for people, dogs, cats, you name it. Nothing is more endearing than a muzzle or mouth tipped in gray, not to mention the intelligence that comes with many, many dog years or multiple feline lives. Remember a small ten-year-old dog is 56-60 human years. A large ten-year-old dog is 66-78. A ten-year-old kitty is approximately 58 human years old.

  1. Cuddles, ALL THE TIME

Ok, so geriatric animals are not quite as frisky as a puppy. It’s fair to assume most won’t be interested in being your running buddy. They do, however, still enjoy short, leisurely strolls. And when you return home, the cuddles can begin. Geriatric animals LOVE to cuddle. Not only do they appreciate sharing body heat, they love to be touched, petted, and loved. So if you’re looking for a TV companion, pick a geriatric pet.

  1. They will show their appreciation every day.
senior pet adoption - older cats

Photo courtesy of pethealthinfo.org

All rescue animals know when they have found something good, and they express it through their undying loyalty and love. Few things feel better than the affection of an animal whose life you’ve changed. One look into their loving eyes, a stroke of the head, or a pat of their paw, lets you know the difference you’ve made in this animal’s life.

Adopt a Geriatric Pet

Though your time together may be brief, lasting a few weeks or a few years, you will always remember your beloved graybeard. You may adopt one geriatric pet in your lifetime, or you may be a repeat adopter. Either way, it’s an opportunity to make a significant difference in the world, and for the animal who’s final years you have made comfortable, happy, and safe.

If you are in the right place and the right time, consider adopting a geriatric pet today. You may work with your local shelter, or partner with an organization that specializes in senior pets. These include Old Dog Haven and the Senior Dog Project.

Click here to see a list of senior pet rescues.

If you are not in a place to adopt a pet, choose an organization from the list above and donate your time or money to these organizations. Go through your linen closet and donate blankets and pillows for these pets to sleep on. Visit a shelter and take them for a walk or share cuddles. Finally, money is always needed. It buys food, increases space, and saves lives.

Be a life saver today, and rescue a senior pet.

senior pet adoption - heart of pure gold

Photo courtesy of arcanatura.com