Lockdown is hard, repetitive and the longer it goes on, the more tedious it gets. In an effort to break the cycle of groundhog day, many people have turned to animals as a source of love, companionship and entertainment.
In fact, according to Petrescue, the National Animal Welfare Charity, Australians are adopting pets in record numbers. Over 4,000 dogs and 10,000 cats in the last three months alone.
This is a fantastic outcome and hopefully these pets will enjoy a furever home and not get returned once lockdown eases.
Sadly, however, the news is not all great. Although many people are adopting, there is one sector that remains largely overlooked. Senior Pets.
It is human nature for us to be beguiled by the cute little fluff balls that are puppies and kittens. Indeed, the waiting list for these has grown to such an extent that people are even forking out down payments on animals that have not yet been born.
However, this penchant for puppies and craving for kittens leaves a number of senior dogs and cats stuck in the pounds, unhoused and unwanted. And sadly, they are the animals with least time left to live and therefore most in need of a home.
The problem is compounded by a prevailing belief that elderly rescue pets are often neurotic, diseased or incapable of rehabilitation. A myth that is, ironically, pretty much the exact opposite of the truth. In fact, senior animals often make far better pets than their more youthful counterparts.
So, if you are thinking of adopting or fostering a dog or cat, here’s a few reasons why you might want to look beyond the cute and consider bringing a senior pet into your family.
NOT YOUNG, BUT YOUNG AT HEART:
Don’t let the grey around the muzzle fool you. A lot of older dogs (and cats) are still frisky, playful and up for a game. And sure, it might take ‘em a bit longer to fetch the tennis ball or the frisbee, but the joy in their eyes and furious wagging of the tail tells you just how much they love it.
SAVE MONEY. SAVE LIVES:
Money is tight for a lot of people at the moment and most of us baulk at the idea of paying thousands of dollars for a pandemic pet or Covid companion.
The solution for many would seem to be adoption, but even here, prices have increased as demand outstrips supply.
Adopting an older pet, however, comes with significant savings. Often as much as 50% less than adopting a younger animal. That’s because these animals often have to wait so long to find homes.
And remember, you’re not just saving money, you’re saving a life. Sadly, many older pets are euthanized because shelters simply can’t afford to keep them or haven’t got enough room.
THE HARD WORK’S BEEN DONE FOR YOU:
One of the great benefits of an older dog or cat is that they are often already house and obedience trained. This is great news for you and great news for your carpets and furniture.
Training a young animal can be a time consuming and costly business. But with an older pet, the hard work has already been done for you and you can reap the rewards of someone else’s labours.
You can leave them at home, safe in the knowledge that you won’t come back to a destroyed couch, dead bird or freshly soiled rug.
You can take them for walks and know they will walk calmly on a lead and won’t try and fight with other dogs.
And, despite the oft-quoted saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you will find, to the contrary, that they are actually far more receptive to new commands than a younger animal.
Senior pets tend to like their sleep and are quite happy to chill around the house and have lazy days with you on the couch. So, if you are time poor or not an exercise junkie, then an older pet could be just what the doctor ordered.
But remember, although they need less exercise, they still need to have some. Just like we do. So, take them for a good walkies whenever you get the chance.
Many animals end up in shelters because their owners have died or have had to go into nursing homes etc.
Suddenly, the animal goes from having a home and a loving pawrent, to finding itself in a shelter.
Unsurprisingly, they become disorientated and anxious. Well, wouldn’t you?
These animals are full of love. They have spent years perfecting the art of being man’s best friend and now just need someone to share their love with.
When you adopt a puppy or a kitten, you don’t necessarily know what you are getting. Their personalities are still forming, and the outcome depends largely on how much time, effort and love you put into them.
But with a senior pet, they are fully matured. Their physical and psychological growth are at an end and what you see is what you get.
This enables you to pick an animal that will fit perfectly in with your lifestyle and habits. A ready-made addition to your family.
For some people, adopting a pet can seem like a really big commitment. And that’s where fostering or short-term care can provide a perfect solution.
Foster care provides a safe, nurturing environment for a homeless pet until a permanent home can be found. Rescue shelters are generally chronically short of space and facilities and rely on “foster parents” to provide care for the animals until a suitable furever home can be found.
Older dogs and cats are often extremely stressed and frightened as a result of maltreatment or because they have been parted from their owner for various reasons. And this is exacerbated by finding themselves in an unfamiliar shelter full of other animals and people they don’t know.
The love and care of a foster pawrent at this critical time can give them a chance to settle down, regain their trust and rebuild their confidence.
So, if you are not ready to jump into fulltime pet ownership, why not foster an older dog or cat. You will be helping an animal to have a life, and you can experience all the joys of pet ownership without having to commit to fulltime.
And who knows, once you see how adorable and eager to please your new foster pet is, you might just decide to let them into your homes and lives on a permanent basis.
Trust us, it happens all the time.
If you're looking for a rescue pet, there are lots of shelters all over Australia (and the world of course). If you're not sure where to start, check out Pet Rescue.
We'd love to hear your story of adopting an older pet. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us on instagram or facebook @kazoopet.