Senior People, Senior Pets

Published online: Oct 16, 2020 Articles Gregg Losinski
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Who doesn’t love puppies and kittens? They’re so cuddly and adorable. They’re so full of energy. They chew up everything in sight and make cute little messes everywhere. Did I mention they were cute and adorable? As they grow, they chew up things less often but leave even larger messes. Younger pets are fun but require more energy to own. 

Since I’m a fairly new member of AARP, I can say that it’s nice to have pets with the same energy level as you do.

When I was younger, we used to own big dumb labs. They are the friendliest dogs and want to be treated as lap dogs even though they weigh a hundred pounds. They require lots of care and must be given lots of exercise or they destroy your home and yard. You get to a certain point in life when you start to evaluate whether owning such a behemoth is worth it. Just as seniors downsize homes when the kids are gone, lots of older people choose to downsize pets as well.

After our last pony-sized lab died, we decided to try life without a dog. We still had our cats, but realistically, once a cat is no longer a kitten it acts about the same way the rest of its life. It eats, poops and sleeps. Old cats never really wind down. 

As the owner of multiple cats, I can say that the level of tolerance for humans remains fairly constant in a cat’s life. As long as we cater to their every whim, they are willing to suffer our presence. Dogs on the other end are a bit like humans. When they get to a certain age they are glad to still be alive and more than willing to share affection with whoever is willing to indulge them.

Soon, one of our sons has made it his mission to always make sure that we have a smaller older dog that needs us as much as we need them. 

Our last two dogs have been rescues of unknown ages, but definitely on the downhill side of life. To say these dogs were long in the tooth would be an understatement, especially because they lacked most of their teeth due to age and prior neglect. When we adopted them the agencies would say, “Oh, we think they are seven or eight years old.” Then we would take them to the groomer who has seen plenty of dogs. She would say, “Probably closer to eight or nine years old.” Finally, we’d go to the vet who would examine them closely and say, “More like ten years old.” Talk about aging right before your very eyes!

Just like buying a used car, adopting a rescue dog is a crapshoot. 

We didn’t even know our first one Ava, was a purebred miniature schnauzer until we had her groomed. She went from an adorable mutt to a grand old dame just like that. In contrast, we adopted Scooter, our second one from the humane society near Sun Valley. As you would expect, he came with a full medical report and even a psych profile! The wild part is the doggy shrink described him to a T. No one could say what caused the trauma in his little life, but they were spot-on with saying how loving he would be to those that cared for him. He is the goofiest little Chihuahua cross, but he loves people and is snuggled up against a human being most of the day and night! Great in the winter but a little too much in mid-summer.

Since most of these animals had rough prior lives, you pretty much have to take them as they come. 

You can scold a puppy for making a mess on the carpet, but do the same thing to an older rescue dog and you end up with a quivering mess. They train you, you don’t train them. But the gratitude and love that they give back for having a loving place to spend their twilight years is priceless.

They freely give warmth and companionship after the kids have grown up and friends start to pass away. All things have value. Being young and energetic is great, but being older and more relaxed has its worth too. The neat thing is that there are people and pets to fit all situations. 

Click here to read more of the November issue.

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