November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month and so this month the blog will cover a number of the old-pet issues. I’ll be channeling my “inner pet” since Seren-Kitty is now a senior citizen. If you’ve got an “old fogey” kitty over the age of 14, I’d encourage you to read last week’s Feline Friday on foiling feline senility.
Of course, in my “other job” I’m the Puppies Guide at about.com, and with the holiday’s approaching, I suspect there will be lots of interest in puppy-licious info about youngsters. So why adopt an “old” dog (or cat) instead?
BENEFITS OF ADOPTING OLDER PETS
Puppies go clear off the “cute factor” scale, and there’s nothing more endearing than a kitten. These critters are works-in-progress, exciting yet difficult to predict, nonstop fun but also magnets for trouble. It requires much time, patience, and understanding to forge the kind of bond with puppies and kittens that we take for granted with our older furry friends.
Mature pets have many advantages over youngsters. Probably the biggest advantage is that together you have created a partnership, and already know each other and have adjusted to individual needs and foibles. All the hard work is done.
Your dog has learned not to chew the TV remote control or your shoes, except for the old house slipper she’s carried around like a teddy bear since you brought her home 10 years ago. She’s been house trained and tells you when she needs to “go”—and you know just how many hours you can be away from home before she’s in dire straits.
Your cat no longer climbs the Christmas tree, unrolls the toilet paper, or swings from the drapes. He knows not to excavate the potted palm or play ping-pong with the parakeet. And he only rearranges your sock drawer if you’re gone overnight and he’s bored or lonely.
Your older pet reminds you when it’s time for a pill and afternoon nap—for both of you. And she acts like the new baby belongs to her, and showers the infant with attention, gentle play, and protective care—even putting up with toddler tail tugs with a patient purr or doggy grin. Countless children have learned to walk while grasping the furry shoulder of a canine friend, or reaching out for that tempting feline tail.
WHY WE LOVE THEM SO
It’s not unusual for young people to say that one special cat or dog has always been a part of their life. In times of family crises or emotional upset, the pet can ease the tension and help heal the pain simply by being there. A broken heart, disagreements with siblings or parents, even physical or emotional trauma can all be helped by the mere presence of a cat or dog that the child loves.
Adopting a mature pet can be a great choice for children. They can be a stabilizing influence, teach responsibility and empathy for other living creatures, and even act as a bridge toward making friends. For example, a child shy of interacting with other kids because of a perceived disability often comes out of her shell when accompanied by a furry friend. The pet remains the focus of interaction rather than the child’s “different” look or behavior. These therapy animals, called “social pets,” have an important job to do, just by offering nonjudgmental love and acceptance.
Even when pets are not officially a “therapy” animal, cats and dogs who have spent many years with us have learned what we like and expect—and we’ve learned to anticipate the senior pet’s needs, likes, and dislikes. We build and then enjoy a comfortable companionship together. After sharing our life experiences, successes and failures, joys and sorrows, these pets come to represent milestones in our lives. They may have celebrated with us when we graduated school, married, and had children or grandchildren—or comforted us when we divorced, retired, the kids moved away, or we lost a spouse.
They have been there for us, through everything. The more time we spend together, the greater our affection grows. Take it from me—and my senior citizen Seren-kitty. With old fogey pets, our compassion, love, and empathy for each other reach a depth that has no parallel in human existence.
This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!
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