One of the hardest topics to discuss at the Verde Valley Humane Society is the one about senior animals being passed by due to the fact that they are older animals.
Recently we've had some older animals in the shelter and it just seems people don't want anything to do with them.
I've heard so many different scenarios on senior pets. Some of them make me cringe inside. It's going to die is one of the worst that I hear the most often.
Looking at it like that makes me look at my own life. I don't ever take a pet thinking about one of us getting ready to die.
Of course it's a consideration, but don't let it be the deciding factor. These animals need you just like you need them.
These animals make terrific pets for seniors especially. Just like most senior adults, their days of being rowdy are over.
They are very loving and want a home just as much as a young puppy or a young kitten does. Of course puppies and kittens are cute and playful, but they can also be a handful. Many times we get puppies and kittens returned to the shelter for acting like puppies and kittens.
Of course they dig, run, have accidents, nip, chew, jump up and never seem to settle down. They are babies, waiting to be trained. Are you up to that responsibility?
If you don't have a lot of time and patience to deal with the issues of young animals, you may want to consider an older animal. Senior animals are loyal and usually very predictable.
Now I'd like for you to look at this situation from a different angle. As we all see our reflection in the mirror each day, most of us see a different face than we did fifteen or twenty years ago. I can't imagine how I will look when my Driver's License actually expires.
When you look at yourself, I hope that you, like me, see smile lines from so many years of joyous laughter given to us by our children, grandchildren, our friends and of course our pets.
Do you have lines between your eyebrows and possibly frown marks on your forehead from dealing with life's ups and downs, or from squinting at the bright Arizona sun for so many years? We've earned those lines, haven't we?
Most of our bodies have also given into the aging process. Are there sagging areas that were once firm and in the right place?
Have you found a cream or pill yet that will fix all of those horizontal issues. My feet keep getting closer and closer to my body it seems.
Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cataracts, arthritis or any other disease that comes with growing older? These all are just facts of life and the same is true with animals.
The aging process just happens no matter how hard we try to take care of ourselves. But, what that doesn't mean is that we are unwanted.
You see people today getting married or dating at all ages, not saying we can't commit ourselves because we don't know how much of a lifespan we have left. We should feel exactly the same about senior animals.
Just because you adopt a senior animal doesn't mean that it doesn't have years left to enjoy all of the love that you can possibly give to them.
We now have to call our dog "Honey" a senior. She's going on ten but she definitely doesn't know it.
Her body has changed over the years. I see her belly area sagging a bit and her beautiful face is etched all around with white now.
Does that mean she is at the end of her life? Not at all, she still has life and spunk in her. You'd never know her age by watching her behavior or by looking at her teeth.
When people mention that they don't want an animal that is going to die, I often wonder how they know their own life span.
One day at a time my friend is how I look at it. Treasure every moment and love with all your heart.
Would you rather love someone for a couple of years or to have never had that glorious experience?
Remember that sometimes our pets outlive us; life gives no guarantees as we all know so well.
At the shelter we have seen cats that can finally no longer continue a productive life, live until the age of 21.
Dogs come in that have reached 23. That's a wonderful long life for everyone involved.
Older pets are just as loving as the younger animals. They also want your attention and your love.
Because people want small and cute young animals, millions of perfectly wonderful older animals are euthanized each year.
The Humane Society of the United States believes that "With an older pet, you will get a less destructive, more graceful animal, and one that has probably already passed "basic training" - you may not need to housebreak the pet, and it will most likely know to come when called and what "no" means.
The animal will probably already be spayed or neutered. And if you work, a full-grown pet is better to stay home alone during the day; this is especially true for dogs."
I'd like for you to think about some of the "positive points" that should be considered when thinking about adopting a senior pet.
a. It is normally very obvious if the pet has behavior challenges or health considerations. At times animals just need a home to live out their last years comfortably.
b. Many times the animal is housebroken, or just needs a little help getting acquainted to the rules in your house.
c. The animal has often been spayed or neutered.
d. They may be more content to curl up at your feet and take a nap. Taking a nap with you would possibly be fine with them.
e. A senior animal would probably prefer a quiet walk compared to running and pulling you by the leash. They normally understand who is walking whom.
f. An older cat is normally getting into everything that isn't tied down.
g. Contrary to the old myth, which says, "You can't train an old dog to do new tricks" it is possible.
Training an older dog is different since they are like some senior citizens. They take longer to respond and their reactions might be slower, but they actually love to learn.
There are many occasions when a senior pet just isn't adoptable. That is something we have had to come terms with at VVHS.
Not all seniors have the quality of life left that will permit them to be placed in a home. Medical expenses can become very costly, causing a burden on a family.
When you adopt a senior pet from the Verde Valley Humane Society, the charges are minimal.
Your new friend will of course need a rabies vaccine and a license, but normally comes already spayed or neutered. This reduces the charge drastically.
The rewards are countless when you adopt an older animal. Deep inside your heart and soul, you should feel fantastic about your choice.
You made a decision to provide love and attention to an animal that probably wouldn't have had a chance for survival.
Always remember that you gave the animal the gift of life. Nothing could be more precious.
These seniors often become the best companion that you will ever have. It is so unfortunate that are often overlooked. In each and every one of them, you will find loyalty, companionship and an unconditional love.
Take your time, think over the situation and see if a senior pet would be the best choice for you.
Our "Pet of the Week" is a young male chocolate lab named "Hershey." He will take a special family that will give him reassurance that people can be good. He also needs to be shown that life is good.
Hershey wants to meet you, he's just so shy. If you speak to him through his kennel his little tail begins to wag, but he's just scared.
Each day I assure this little guy that the right people will come through the door with the time and patience to socialize him. The love part will come naturally, he's so sweet.
Hershey's adoption fee has been discounted by $20.00 thanks to his buddies Sparky and Dewey.
Stop in the shelter and meet Hershey and all of the wonderful animals waiting for a new home.
Don't forget to go to vvhs.net and print out your form for our second annual "Animal Kings and Queens of the Verde Valley" calendar. Make your pet the star.
Be responsible pet owners. Please spay/neuter your pets.