Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Please Consider Adopting An Older Pet!

Far too often, when people visit shelters, they go in with the preconceived notion of getting a puppy or kitten. Of course, the very fact that they are considering adoption as a means of adding to the family is incredible. I'm sure many of you are aware of the statistics.  In 2008 the Canadian Federation Of Humane Societies noted that over 54 000 animals were euthanized throughout Canada, & this statistic came from only 60% of reporting shelters across the country!

A while back (not so long ago) I too felt the need to add a puppy in my life, and proceeded to purchase an 8 week old Cockapoo who I named Ty. Ty is now ten years old and we are best of friends, though I can honestly say that two events over the years have changed my opinion with regard to finding a pet. First off, a friend of mine passed away 6 years ago after a quick battle with cancer. He left behind a son and daughter (both in their thirties), and a twelve year old cat named Lucy. For whatever reasons, neither of his children could care for Lucy, so I adopted her. Lucy, now over 19, is still going strong. She loves to cuddle (she sleeps above/on my head), and a couple times throughout the day she still shows off her agility and speed by bounding from couch to table, and racing down the halls in an attempt to egg on Ty and Nelly, my more recent adoptee.

I adopted Nelly, a scruffy Terrier mix, two years ago after reading reports of inner turmoil at the Toronto Humane Society (in fact I adopted him the day before the raid on River Street). I took Ty down to meet him (Lucy tended house) & the two got along swimmingly, so my decision was easy. Nelly had been brought to the shelter by the son of an elderly woman who had gone to live in an assisted care facility. Neither of her two children expressed an interest in keeping Nelly, so he was left at the shelter. I was told Nelly was 4, but I suspected he was older, and indeed my vet determined that he was about 8 years old. However while Ty is beginning to show his age, Nelly could easily get carded at any doggy bar!.  As an extra bonus, over the first few weeks I was surprised to learn that Nelly was fully trained (to this day he still pays me more attention than Ty ever has!). Of course I was extremely lucky, and while I do have great memories of taking Ty to puppy classes (and believe me he needed the work), it is not something that I miss terribly.

If my experience with pet adoption has taught me one thing it is that almost every animal, regardless of past circumstances, deserves a second chance at being loved. When I adopted Nelly an amazing feeling hit me immediately as I left the shelter. I felt proud of myself for giving the scruffy little guy a new life (quite literally). In giving Lucy a new home, it did not matter to me if she lived another year or three (or six!!). What mattered was that for however many years she had left at the time, she would not be spending them in a lonely crate, or worse.  Both of these two, who at one particular time had little hope, would spend the rest of their lives knowing the love they so deserved.

If there are ever questions or doubts in your mind as to whether you should give an older pet a second chance at life, I'll be sure to pass them on to Lucy & Nelly, who will both be more than willing to educate you on the pawsitives!