If anybody has any doubt that we are living in an ageist society, just turn on the television or peruse a fashion or gossip magazine. Youth is glamorized. Youth is glorified. Unfortunately, this attitude also extends to our companion animals as people clamor for the puppies and kittens at shelters and rescue groups, mostly oblivious to the seniors in their midst. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being entranced by a young one’s oversized paws or outsized energy. It’s just that the seniors end up languishing in shelters and boarding facilities, not being given a fair shake. Sure, maybe their fur is no longer thick and lustrous, but it still craves a warm caress. And yes, their eyes may be a little less clear and shiny, but they’re still capable of gazing at you with love. If you’re willing to give a senior animal that fair shake, you’ll soon find that your new pal isn’t the only one reaping benefits.
On a purely practical level, a senior adoption means you get to bypass the frenetic energy of youth. Chewed up slippers and unfurled yarn will not be “gracing” your home. The sight of a kitten dangling from your curtains, or a puppy whose playtime never ends, are experiences you get to forgo. Instead, you’ll have animal companions who are content to just “hang” with you, getting pleasure merely from your presence in their lives. Additionally, adopting a senior means the “potty wars” are a thing of the past, their past. Cuddle time can now replace housebreaking time. Ah!If, however, you’re seeking a more profound reason to adopt a senior animal, how about the likelihood that it will be transformative, for both you and them? How often do you get to feel like you’re making a big difference in someone’s life, offering a second chance — or in many cases, a first chance — at peace and happiness? Imagine what it would be like to know that you’re the person who changed the course of another’s existence!
While adopting a senior animal will undoubtedly add much to your life, it’s important not to lose sight of the realities of living with a more “mature” being. Age-related maladies will start cropping up, possibly necessitating more frequent trips to the vet. Medications and/or supplements might now need to be dispensed more regularly. Your patience and flexibility are essential now, to ensure that these ripe years will go smoothly and happily, for everyone.
Each day, we have the opportunity to bring some meaning into our lives. Perhaps this will be the day you decide to bring a senior animal into yours.
To read more about the life-changing experience of opening your heart and home to a deserving senior, check out the Senior Pets: All They Need Is Love blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
About the Author
April Lang, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. In addition to her regular therapy practice, she specializes in animal bereavement and couples therapy. Please visit her website, www.aprillang.com or call her at (212) 577-1357 for further information.