Opening your home and heart to senior pets

Maja Ferrell
Pet Poison Helpline

10423732_10203659367982573_2485466102067814382_nIt was a hot summer day in Austin, Texas when I met the guy of my dreams. He had big beautiful brown eyes with matching brown hair that was beginning to gray – showing that he’s lived a full life. We took a short walk together and the rest is history, we’ve been inseparable ever since! Naturally, I am talking about the first day I met my Chihuahua, Charles. Charles came into my life when he was already 7-years-old. Not much is known about his life prior to living with me, only that he was found as a stray and no one came forward to reclaim him. What I did know though was that the rest of his life was going to be filled with delicious snacks, long walks, and all the snuggling he could ever ask for.

I hadn’t planned on adopting a senior dog, or truthfully any dog, that day but in the years since Charles has shown me how special the bond between an owner and a senior pet can be. Though there are countless reasons to open your home to an older animal, Charles and I sat down and came up with a few that stand out to us.

1. Training

One of the best things about senior pets is that they come with baggage – the good kind! Most seniors are already housebroken which means no middle of the night bathroom breaks and the ability to sleep-in on weekends. Another plus side of having a dog that is already potty-trained is that you can leave them at home during the work day without fearing that you may come home to an accident. Since most senior pets have previously lived in a home they know their basic manners. Such as shoes are meant for humans to wear on walks and not to be used as a chew toy or that it isn’t polite to jump on visitors. Some senior pets may have even learned basic commands like “sit” and “down” in their previous homes. While not all seniors are trained, you can definitely teach an old dog new tricks!

2. Pre-Vetted

Between spaying/neutering, microchipping, and the rounds of vaccines that come with getting a puppy the expenses can quickly add up. Typically adoption fees for senior pets range around $150-$300. That fee includes them already coming into your home spayed/neutered, microchipped, heartworm tested, and up-to-date on vaccines. This can save you a considerable amount of money and still have plenty left over to spoil them with a brand new bed and collar!

3. You [may] know their history

Some senior pets wind up in shelters or with rescue groups because they were found as strays while others were surrendered after their families were no longer able to care for them. Typically the latter means that they will come with an extensive history. If you already have cats, children, or other dogs you can easily narrow down your search to find a senior pet that has experience sharing a home with these types of other family members. Even if a senior is found as a stray most shelters or rescue groups will do behavioral testing so you know if the pet you are adopting is not fond of other dogs or loves children. You may even have information on what their favorite brand of treat is, if they are afraid of thunderstorms, or that they know how to “shake”!

4. No guess work

When bringing a new puppy into your home there are often many questions you may have. How big will this puppy get? What will their temperament be like? Will they get along with my other dog? With a senior pet what you see is what you get! There will be no concern if a senior pet will outgrow your apartment as they’re already full grown. And whether you are looking for an energetic running partner or simply a companion to watch movies with, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for right away in an adult/senior pet.

10423715_10202855284320984_4231134970371227903_n5. An instant companion

Because of all of these reasons and more you’ll find an instant companion in a senior dog. These are dogs that can accompany you on walks around a lake, take trips with you, or just simply be your best friend from the start.

Though Charles is continuing to enter his twilight years we have shared countless memories and good times. I know he will be curled up by side for as long as he can.