Little did I know, at the time, that he would become a permanent fixture in my life. His name is Tipper and he is laying close by me as I write this article while our other two dogs are downstairs with my husband. Mama’s boy! He is a 12 year old black and white German short haired pointer from the shelter.
He fills my heart with joy. Tipper’s eyes would light up as each prospective family came by his kennel, thinking this was his family coming back to collect him. However, days, weeks and months went by with no new home in sight. He was too old. In the meantime, I would make my daily morning rounds saying good morning to the animals and taking Tipper to events and nursing home visits. His big brown eyes and good nature drew me in and I realized I could not live without him.
I have brought stray kittens and puppies including a two and three year old dog into my life and home. While I’ve loved having puppies and kittens around, there is something special about adopting an older pet. Here are my top seven reasons to adopt a senior pet:
• What you see is what you get. A senior pet holds no surprises as to how big he might get, what color his adult coat will be, or whether his hips will be healthy. A senior pet comes to you with his own history, which makes his future much more predictable than that of an 8-week old puppy or kitten.
• Older dogs have manners. Unlike puppies, many grown-up dogs have spent years living with a family and being socialized to life with humans. They may have received obedience training and respond to commands like Sit, Stay, and Down. Many are house trained and it takes a matter of hours or a day or two to help them learn the potty rules in their new home.
• Senior pets are less destructive. Most older adoptive pets are well past the search-and-destroy phase. You don't need to worry so much about finding your favorite pair of shoes or a table leg chewed beyond recognition. Chances are your senior kitty has no urge to overturn your potted plant or shred the handmade quilt your grandma gave you.
• Older pets are relaxing to hang out with. Senior dogs and cats have all the basics down and aren't full of wild energy to burn. Because you're not constantly chasing around or cleaning up after your older pet, you have a lot more time to spend finding fun things to do or just relaxing together.
• Older pets are not damaged goods. The reasons why an older dog or cat may be up for adoption are many, but in most cases the fault (if there is any) lies with the previous owner and not with the pet. Our dogs and cats go through a thorough evaluation, including temperament testing, so any quirks they might have are identified. The caregivers at the shelter can tell you what his personality is like and his habits. Matching an adult pet to a compatible owner has never been easier.
• Adopted senior pets are grateful for your kindness. Somehow, older pets seem to know you gave them a home when no one else would. Many new owners form a close bond very quickly with their senior dog or cat, because the pet shows them a level of attention and devotion that is unique to older adopted animals.
• You can be a hero to a deserving dog or cat. Almost without exception, people who adopt older animals feel a special sense of pride and purpose in opening their heart to a hard-to-place pet. Doing a good thing really does make you feel good!
As I turn off the light, Tipper looks up at me. He follows me across the hall. It’s bedtime.
Darla Gow is the Community Development Director at the Huron County Humane Society. Mission Statement: Assists Huron County residents by providing a clean, safe and loving environment for animals in need, all the while, satisfying the residents with healthy, thriving and loving animals for adoption. Furthermore, giving residents a choice to surrender their pets for a variety of reasons, instead of euthanizing a perfectly healthy animal. The Humane Society also investigates cases of animal abuse and neglect. The animal abuse hot line is 419.663.7158 The HCHS is a private non-profit that operates on donations and receives no government funds. Gow can be reached at email@example.com.