In the last few years, I’ve had to say goodbye to a number of senior animals. Shasta the llama was 17 years old; Tommy the cat was 18; Rooster was 14.5; Milo was 11. And those are sadly just a few of my senior furry friends that crossed the rainbow bridge. Taking care of and saying goodbye to senior animals isn’t easy. There are usually medical issues, like arthritis and cancer, special food, slower walks, and so much more.
With all that in mind, why should you take care of a senior animal or adopt them? There are so many great reasons but the biggest is that even with any potential issues, there are still so many wonderful things about senior animals. They’re sweet and loving and often just so happy to have a home. Plus, giving a senior animal will likely save their life and give them a wonderful home for the end of their life.
There are many assumptions about senior animals that prevent them from being adopted. One is that you won’t have that much time with them. While it’s true that you won’t have a senior animal for 10+ years, it’s still likely that you’ll have some time with them. Even a short but great time with a senior animal is amazing, as some really amazing quality time can make such a difference.
Another assumption is that senior animals will probably have problems, whether it’s behavioral or health-wise. Some stereotypes about rescue animals of all kinds rely on the idea that rescues were surrendered or abandoned because of their behavior. In reality, there are many reasons why pets are looking for a new home. Their owners may have passed away or moved and couldn’t take them with. Sometimes, life sadly makes it impossible for folks to care for their pets. All of this is to say that a senior pet’s behavior might not be the reason they were given up!
Plus, there’s a good chance you won’t have to do any basic training! With senior animals, chances are that they are housetrained, they aren’t teething (and might be less likely to chew up your stuff!), and they’ve grown into their shape and personality so you’re not surprised by their size or traits. And senior cats are likely to already be litter trained. But like any rescue, it takes some time for seniors to settle in and feel 100% comfortable in their new home. After some time and affection, their full personality should start to shine! Plus, it’s always possible to teach an old dog or cat new tricks. Milo learned how to shake at 10 years old!
When Queso was first fostered by The Golden Ratio 4 family, she was 12 years old and not in the best shape. In the years since, she’s grown into a happy, healthy 14-year-old who loves to play and gallop around! This is to say that it takes some time for rescues to settle into their new homes, even with senior dogs. But once they do, they’re wonderful, happy additions to the family!
While many senior animals might not be able to do intense hiking or backpacking trips, they are still able to go on fun adventures! Life may have slowed down for seniors but that doesn’t stop the fun. Rooster and I still managed to go on many fun trips during his last year. Walking with senior dogs is still a great way to get outside and is a reminder to take things slow and appreciate what’s around you.
Ultimately, there are plenty of great reasons to adopt a senior dog. Sure, you may not get years and years with them but even just a little bit of quality time with a great animal is worth it. I personally wouldn’t trade my time with the many senior animals in my life for anything. These animals gave me so much love and warmth. They taught me patience, forgiveness, and that a loving home can make an enormous difference. I’m so grateful for my time with animals like Milo, Rooster, and others and I’m excited to have time with other rescues, especially senior rescues.