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

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

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

Five Reasons to Adopt a Rescue Pet

by Heather Kallevig

Adopt a Rescue Pet

Left to right – Tinker, Kenai, Skeeter

When I wake in the morning, the first thing I hear following the alarm is a plaintive whine, a polite request to join us for the last 15 minutes while we snooze.  This whine isn’t unexpected, it’s actually a daily routine.  Each morning, even before my morning coffee, I start my day with a dog pile – a cozy cuddle with my furry bundles of love.  Without these moments, my day would be incomplete.

My dogs hold a special place in my life, they keep me happy, healthy, and grounded.  They add to my happiness with their silly antics, sweet affection, and enduring cuteness.  They keep me healthy by requiring two to three walks a day, regular play breaks, and cuddles.  They keep me grounded because, let’s face it, I am not perfect and neither are they.  There are those times when they chase cats, bark incessantly at the mailman, or accidentally mistake a shoe for a toy that remind me we all have lessons to learn.

Adopt a rescue - fun with dogs!

Who says a dachshund can’t skijor?

One other quality, which makes my little fur babies special, is we didn’t all start out together.  All of our pups are rescues – two are permanent and the third is a foster – looking for his perfect home.  Each of these dogs came to us for a second chance and the decision to adopt them has enriched our lives.  In our years together I have learned several important reasons for choosing to adopt a rescue.  If you’re considering a new family member – these may be important points to mull over.



Support Goodness

There are innumerable rescue shelters and humane organizations, run by some of the most selfless individuals in the world.  These jobs and volunteer positions are very challenging and often heartbreaking. By adopting a rescue, you are offering support for those individuals who selflessly face hardship to help animals in need.  By adopting a rescue, you are supporting goodness.

Tinker - the Wonder Dog

Tinker loves to run

Make a Difference

In modern society, it is easy to become disillusioned. There are so many problems to consider, we become overwhelmed. The best way to address this feeling is to choose one problem at a time, and do your part to make a difference. Homeless pets are certainly an issue. In the United States alone, there are so many homeless animals each household would have to take in 7 pets to give every one a home. While this is perhaps unrealistic, you can start by offering a home to one or two of these pets. You’ll make a world of a difference to them, and perhaps encourage others to take the same steps.

Long Relationships

People often argue dogs’ only fault is they don’t live long enough. Too soon, we must give up the love of our faithful companions. While this is certainly true, statistics show mutts (multi-breed hybrids) tend to live longer, healthier lives. They are not affected by the impacts of inbreeding, which often plagues full-breed dogs. Mutts are less likely to have hip, eye, back, and kidney problems to name a few. This shouldn’t sway you from rescuing full-breed pets from the shelter, but it is something to consider.

Rescue a pet

Skeeter the rafting dog


If you are one of those people who like to be one of a kind, this is also a reason to consider adopting a rescue. Your pets’ breed may be unrecognizable, and people will often stop you on the street to ask what kind of dog he/she is. Our rescues are all unique, so we have come up with our own guesses at their parentage. We claim to have a “lab-chihuahua,” a “miniature-dachshund-beagle,” and a “full-dachshund-corgi.” It’s always a conversation starter describing those three hybrids.


Foster a pet

They seem a bit guilty

I will warn you, rescuing a pet does require selflessness. Many of these animals have been in other homes or difficult situations. It requires patience and lots of love to help them recover from these situations, learn how to behave, and identify what’s expected of them. They are able to learn, however, and will eventually pay in full for all you’ve given them. It’ not going to be easy, just like any relationship there are good days and bad ones. This isn’t meant to make your life simpler, but it will make the world of a difference in theirs. For you it’s the choice of a lifetime and once you connect with a rescued pet, your life will never be the same again.

Adopt a pet

Skeeter the day we adopted her


The final reason for bringing a rescue into your home is gratitude. Your rescue pet, will know when they’ve landed somewhere good, and they will thank you for it every day you are together. While there are ups and downs, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. Rescuing a pet will enrich your life forever, and you will never be sorry.

Choosing a Pet

Remember there are many rescue pets out there.  If dogs aren’t your cup of tea, consider some of the other animals in need of a home – cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, goats, pigs, and even chickens.  Whatever animal you choose, give them a chance, make them happy, and I promise they will do the same for you.

Big Boy Kenai