Why opening your home to a senior pet is so rewarding

We are in the middle of one of my favorite months: Adopt A Senior Pet Month (also known as November). It’s no coincidence that the month of thankfulness is also Senior Pet Month; my senior pets have given me so much for which to be grateful.

Over the past 10 years, I have adopted or provided hospice care to about a dozen senior dogs, and fostered several more that went on to get adopted. My adoptive and hospice dogs called my home their final home and took their last breaths in my arms. When this comes up in conversation, most people look at me and tell me some version of how crazy I am or how they could never bear it. And it’s true that these dogs have broken my heart. But the heart seems to be pretty resilient, because once the pain fades, the pull to help another is still just as strong.

If I cared for only young dogs, I wouldn’t have been able to have half the experiences I have had. I have cared for everything from Chihuahuas to Boxers to pit bulls to Dobermans and more. How amazing it is to be able to call so many dogs “mine.” And aside from the different experiences with the different breeds, each one had their own individual personality that was special.

Finn – my huge-headed pit bull, how could I forget how you lay in the doorway of my bedroom every night, making me feel so safe, yet also cried when the cats would smack you?

Buddy, my yellow Labrador – I can still hear your breath in my ear as you were attached like Velcro to my side every minute of every day.

Cooper, my oh-so-old beagle – I can still see the look in your eyes when you would get stuck behind things like dandelions, tall blades of grass, and small boxes … and the grateful wag of your tail when such roadblocks were removed.

Bella, my first pit bull, so worn out when you arrived here – I can still feel the contrast of the velvet of your ears against the rough scars.

And my beautiful Boxer Rosie – I can still feel joy in my heart when thinking of your huge, awkward body running toward me with such happiness, slobber and jaw flaps flying everywhere, while that nubby tail went a mile a minute.

In addition to all these amazing memories I have, there are so many other benefits to senior adoption. All of these animals meshed into my house relatively easily. Some needed housebreaking refreshers, but most were good to go. They were all laid-back, easygoing and content to relax with us. When my daughter was born, my old dogs took it in stride. Truly, they were a pleasure to love.


We have several senior pets at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter who would love to be your choice for Adopt A Senior Pet Month:

  • Rigby is a happy 9-year-old Jack Russell mix who is hanging in foster care while waiting for the perfect home.
  • Teddy is a 7-year-old Yorkshire Terrier who is waiting out his stray time to see if an owner comes looking for him – if not, he’ll be in need of a home, too!

And if you are looking for even lower-maintenance with just as much love, consider our senior cats:

  • Lionell and Lucinda were part of a group of six seniors who arrived after being found with their deceased owner Four have been adopted, and Lionell (a 12-year-old orange tabby) and Lucinda (a 12-year-old calico tabby) are waiting their turn. They are in foster care and have proven to be amazing – getting along great with cats, kids and well-mannered dogs!
  • Margaret can be found in our adoption room. She a really sweet and loving 7-year-old orange tabby.

Since life in the shelter can be especially difficult for seniors, we are also always looking for foster homes to care for our seniors while they await their adoptive homes. I don’t think I have to reinforce how rewarding I find fostering seniors. If you are interested in helping our seniors, please visit our website to send in our Foster or Adoption Application.


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