Adult Pets Make Great Companions for Seniors

Grandma’s not home baking cookies and dusting knick knacks. Grandpa’s not puttering around in the garage.

These days seniors are more likely than ever to remain active. A grandchild might hear Grandma can’t come to the phone right now, she’s hiking or swimming. Grandpa may be at the tennis court for his weekly game.

Who better to adopt an adult dog or cat?

Dogs as Exercise Partners

Regular exercise is good for both ends of the leash. A dog that likes to walk, run or hike might be a perfect fit for Grandma. Grandpa could practice his serve with a dog who loves to fetch. “Ball boy” dogs are used in professional games. Why shouldn’t Grandpa have his very own?

Most dogs like to swim. Matched with a human swimmer, they could both love aquagility (agility in the water). There’s synchronized swimming too or fetch via diving.

For humans who love to dance but lack a partner, try freestyle—obedience to music. It can be as simple as heeling and turns or feature fancy footwork. Pick a song, start to move and the dog will bossa nova with you. He might not be ready for Dancing with the Stars but his enthusiasm will make up for any missteps. Watch what Sparky does on his own and incorporate those moves into the routine.

Get fancy and add costumes—who can resist a dog in a sombrero? Whether it’s YouTube-worthy or not, go with the “dance like nobody’s looking” motto and have a great time.

Why Choose an Adult Pet—The Human View

Often a rescue, adult animals have lived in a home, have basic manners and are housebroken. There may be an accident or two as he learns the rules but he won’t have to go outside every half hour or so like a tiny-bladdered pup does. Chances are, the shelter workers taught him good leash manners. He won’t let his human walking partner weasel out of a walk—in fact, he may be at the door, leash in mouth, waiting for his person to get her tennies tied.

An adult cat makes the perfect paper weight at the computer. He’s happy to help tap the keys or to watch cat videos. When the excitement’s over, he’ll nap while the human typist checks email. With an adult, there will be less climbing the drapes, knocking over a cup of coffee and Kitty is more apt to snooze than run the Kitty 500 at 3 a.m. He’ll still be peppy enough for a quick pick up game of fetch the paper wad or catch the dancing feather.

Why Adopt an Adult Pet—The Pet’s View

Mark Howes, DVM, owner of Berglund Animal Hospital, in Evanston, Illinois, says, “The old rule of one human year equals seven dog years is outmoded. Size and breed matters. While a Great Dane might be a senior by age seven, a Pomeranian will just be hitting middle age.” Mid-sized mixed breeds can often have an edge on aging. Staying active is the key to longevity. An older person can spend more time with a dog or cat which makes quality of life higher for both of them.

“The best way to keep a pet healthy longer is to keep the brain active,” says Dr. Cathy Alinovi, owner of Hoof Stock Veterinary Service, in Pine Village, Indiana. Puzzles, hide and seek and made up games bring creativity to the human brain as well as a cat’s.

Why Now?

It may just be the owner’s imagination but most people who rescue an adult pet say, “He seems grateful,” or “She tries so hard to please and is by me all the time.” People swear, “I think he knew I was his last chance.”

Sometimes, many times, we are.

Meet the Author: Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy writes magazine articles about all kinds of animals, pets or exotics, marine life too, eco-friendly living and weird topics that catch her fancy. In her spare time, she writes fiction, mostly mysteries with a twist. With all the research, her browser history is intriguing to say the least. She lives in St. Louis with two bossy cats and Ozzie, a very tolerant dog.

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