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Casper Critters

The Joy of Living with a Mature Pet

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09/01/2010 - By Gayle M. Irwin

Call our house the 'geriatric home for dogs': Sage turns 11 years old this month, and Cody is now 12. We are all enjoying these "retirement years".

In my professional and personal life I've heard the "oohs" and "ahhs" regarding puppies and kittens, and the toutings of human parents who say "I want a puppy or kitten to grow up with my kids." Truthfully, age makes no difference when it comes to humans and pets bonding – Cody was nearly 10 when we adopted him, and he is completely devoted to Greg and I – he even tolerates the cats!

Here are some great reasons for adopting mature pets:

• Puppies and kittens require a great deal of attention and time, and for busy families, time is something of a commodity. Mature pets can be left alone for longer periods of time, and often enjoy having 'down time'. Now, this doesn't mean they should be locked up in a kennel all the time and it doesn't mean they don't need exercise – adult pets just require LESS time and energy than puppies or kittens.

• Young ones require training, such as housebreaking, and a great deal of patience. Older pets often come housebroken/litter box trained, and in many cases, adult dogs have some basic obedience training, such as knowing "sit", "stay" and "come".

• What you see is what you get when you adopt an adult – adopting a mature pet allows you to know more about its size and temperament, whereas adopting a puppy or kitten is sometimes a guessing game when it comes to the animal's temperament and size.

• Older pets expend less energy – often, a simple walk around the neighborhood for an older dog is sufficient, and mature cats enjoy lounging in the sun more than chasing strings or feathers. So if you're not terribly active, an older pet might suit your lifestyle.

• If you are an active person, such as a hiker or runner, your best companion could be a 2- to 5-year-old dog who is just waiting for that energetic person to help HIM expend some energy! (Plus, most likely, not in need of potty training!)

• Adopting an older pet is truly a selfless act. As an animal ages, its chances of adoption grow slimmer; by giving a mature pet a home, you're showing great compassion and empathy – and gaining a wonderful furry friend in the process!

Some people think if an older dog or cat is in the shelter there must be something wrong with it – not so! Many adult and senior pets are relinquished because the owner can no longer care for them due to the person's health or even death. Some of the most wonderful companion animals in need of new homes are awaiting another chance to shower a family or individual with devotion, just as they did with their previous owner.

So, if adding a new pet to your home is on your 'to-do list' this fall, consider adopting an adult or senior pet – you, too, can know the joy of hanging out with an adoring, mature four-footed friend and giving that adult pet a special, loving retirement home!

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