I remember seeing a sign in the newspaper when I was in grade 6 that the SPCA was looking for volunteers. At this age, this opportunity was right up my alley, so I motivated a few friends and we all skipped down to our local office the following weekend.
This one little decision started a multi-year relationship with our local SPCA, and was the first independent and committed thing I had ever done in my life. My friends and I volunteered each weekend, helping walk the dogs, clean the cages, feed, water and even going so far as helping with adoptions until we were in our teens.
We saw dogs come in battered and injured. We helped train and socialize abandoned pets. We fell in love with them, every now and then, and still had to let them go. We experienced all sides of the pet situation, fully understanding what was at the end of the road for these animals.
We learned, very early on, how to be committed pet owners, and that every animal is valuable and worth the time.
We also learned the hard work associated with having an animal, and did our time washing kennels and brushing coats. We hauled 40lb bags of dog food and felt the soreness of a long days work, even at the lung age we were.
To call it life changing and formative with be an understatement.
To this day, my experience with our local SPCA helped to create the values I still hold. Our pets are our family and we know that our number 1 responsibility to them is to be cared for and loved.
But even though I am not at the SPCA these days, the stalls are still filled with animals. Dogs, Cats, Rabbits, Birds, even the odd llama or donkey. There are still animals needing homes, and homes needing animals. Our pets (all of them) have become our family, and our best friends.
Pet adoption is one of the most rewarding and life affirming experiences you can have. Saving a life, while bringing more love into your home – what could be better? And while there is a large need to adopt pets of all ages, shapes and sizes, senior pets bring something special to a home. They are mellow, wise, already trained old souls who take life one day at a time – and bring so much love and appreciation. They deserve to finish out their final days with a family to care for them and love them back.
If you are one of the kind and lucky people who will welcome a senior pet into your home this month, here are a few important tips to keep in mind from Petcurean:
- Keep them active: Exercise helps senior pets maintain a healthy body weight, and it helps slow the degeneration of joints from arthritis. Walking is excellent exercise. Swimming in a heated pool is also an excellent way to maintain joint mobility.
- Ensure they get proper nutrition: As older pets are less active, they need fewer calories. A high quality, limited ingredient diet is a great way to maintain weight in older pets, while addressing and sensitivities and ensuring they get the nutrition they need, like Petcurean’s Go! Limited Ingredient Duck Recipefor dogs. Dogs with joint problems may benefit from supplementation with glucosamine or fish oils.
- Practice good dental hygiene: Dental care is just as important for pets as it is for humans. Dental disease is painful and may make eating difficult for your senior pet. If your dog won’t tolerate you brushing its teeth, consider dental treats, or dental toys designed to help keep the teeth clean and healthy. Teeth cleaning by your veterinarian will also help to maintain oral health.
- Provide an accessible home: Older dogs may develop arthritis or other joint problems, which can make it harder for them to get around. You can help by providing ramps to help them navigate around the house, get up on the bed, or get outside. Orthopedic pet beds may help keep your pet comfortable and relieve pressure on the joints.
- Love them up: Nothing tells your pet that you love them like a good belly rub or ear scratch. As your pet ages, physical contact is more important than ever. Every moment you have together is precious, and increasing the physical connection between you will strengthen your bond immeasurably. Maximize every opportunity for bonding with your pet – you will both be glad you did.
With recent advances in veterinary science and nutrition, dogs are living much longer and healthier lives, so a dog aged 9-10 can still have many good years left to enrich your life. As with any living being, age can bring its problems, but maintaining good health starts with common sense, regular exercise, good nutrition, and regular visits to the vet. Adopting an older pet can be so rewarding, and you can take pleasure in the knowledge that you have saved the life of a deserving and sweet old soul. And of course, young or old, rescuing any pet will fill your home with more love