Through the kind souls that do animal rescue, I've learned that there is currently an epidemic of people surrendering their senior pets to shelters. We can blame it on the struggling economy and the fact that seniors may need more vet care but this is still a very sad occurrence. Senior pets are usually the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized. When they are separated from their families, they grieve. That people would abandon their loved one to a shelter is a concept that is very difficult for me to grasp because I know how wonderful these older kitties and pups can be!
First off, they tend to be low energy. That means they are more suitable for a wider range of families. Senior people make great matches for senior dogs and cats. It's hard for grandma to keep up with the demands of a raucous puppy who is constantly chewing on things he shouldn't or an adult dog that requires several walks a day but a senior dog that is relaxed and likes to cuddle on the couch is just her style.
They are also a great match for workaholics or those with busy schedules. Younger dogs needs lots of mental stimulation and don't do well being left alone for long stretches of time. Older animals tend to sleep a lot, so you are less likely to come home to a shredded sofa or an upside down trash can.
Senior pets also have the benefit of diminishing behavioral issues. Most have worked out their aggressive or anxious problems and are now just mellow sweethearts. My cat, Claudia, never used to like to be held by anyone. She preferred to bite them instead. Now that she is 17yrs young, she is a very cuddly critter. If I'm home, she wants to be in my lap. She has even become more vocal and very quirky. She's the source of an endless stream of laughter.
Our older pets have the added bonus of being great teachers too. If you have a younger, low energy dog at home that needs a companion then Grandpa Doggie would make a great new pack member. There are some things that only an older, wiser dog can teach. Dogs use a series of signals to calm one another. These signals enable them to interact with other canines in a healthy manner by staving off anxiety and aggression. If dogs don't use this language, they lose it. Older dogs make great instructors and reinforcers in the ways of dog speak.
It's true that senior dogs aren't for everyone. It takes a hearty soul to withstand the fact that you may lose your new friend in a few years. I can only tell you that the benefits of the love that these creatures give far outweighs the heartache and you have the added satisfaction of knowing that you are doing something heroic by adopting an animal that is so often overlooked. ~