Seniors for Seniors, Saving Pets and People One at a Time
I had written an article years ago, barely touching on a Seniors for Seniors program. This is an animal shelter or rescue program that is matches senior citizens people with senior pets at no cost.
When a couple of days ago someone made a comment on the value of such a program and wanting to get a similar program in her town; and I thought I would make a plea to others to do the same!
It is difficult if not impossible to get some senior animals in shelters or rescues placed in good homes.
It seems that everyone wants a young dog, cat, puppy or kitten.
People think that they need to start with a “clean slate” to end up with a great pet or companion.
Actually, nothing is further from the truth!
Unless you are a professional competitive dog trainer looking for the next French Ring III dog or looking to make the world agility or protection team; there is no reason that a dog thrown away in a shelter won’t fit the bill of what you are looking for!
In fact, when I trained Service Dogs for adults and children with disabilities, I got all of my dogs from shelters and rescues and they had to be 2 years or older!
These dogs went from living on death row, to going everywhere in public and being worth upwards of $20,000!
Now, I was looking for young dogs that could spend most of their lifetime working for their disabled partner, but that was simply because anything else would be unfair to my clients.
There are plenty of gems of all ages just sitting, waiting and hoping for someone to love and adopt them in shelters.
There have been many a senior dog that has pulled at my heart strings and I have found loving homes for them.
But it is not easy to convince someone that 3 or 4 years of life left in an animal is worth opening their home and their heart to!
And, so many people are overly concerned about the financial troubles that an older dog MIGHT bring.
However, I might remind people that the first year of a puppies life, with regular vaccinations, spay and neuter, and of course all the chewing and need for toys can be much, much more expensive than having an older pet!
But senior citizens, well most of them, have no real desire to deal with puppy antics.
- Getting up early
- Going out in the cold at 2 a.m. to potty train
- Taking the puppy out every two hours
- Spending a constant eye on the puppy
- Constant behavior training
- Providing ample exercise
Are all things that most of our aged senior citizens don’t really have a desire to tackle.
After all, puppies are work (for more on that click on the link).
And, sadly I have worked with a number of these wonderful individuals who have gotten puppies that are WAY, way, way too much dog for them.
They end up with scratches and torn skin.
And, a lot of times they end up with dogs that bully them; and no one should live in an abusive relationship! Even if it is with an animal!
Many of these puppies or young dogs need a tremendous amount of exercise, which can be provided by just about anyone, but can be difficult for older people to accomplish without an excess amount of work.
Pets, Help You Live Longer
Numerous studies have been done that have found that just simply having and petting an animal lowers blood pressure and helps people live longer!
I love the senior homes that have integrated a dog or a cat into their facilities to help their residents!
But, there is significant time in between being a senior citizen and being ready for a senior home.
Heck, I am in my 40’s; 55 doesn’t seem that far away!
And, although I won’t be looking to get away from training and puppies at 55; I am not certain that I will be up to puppy antics in my 70’s. Although, I have male friends who still decoy for Schutzhund in their 70’s and many women who like to run agility and compete in dog obedience!
Seniors for Seniors
But I think a seniors for seniors shelter or rescue program could help thousands of pets and people throughout the country.
Many people as they get older know that they aren’t up to living with a puppy.
Many are on fixed incomes and don’t really consider adding an older dog or cat to their home.
Shelters that adopt senior pets out at no cost will increase the rate of adoptions, decrease euthanasia, and improve the health of both the pet and the senior citizen.
It really is a win, win program.
And, I know the humane societies that operate as community charities or nonprofits can also set up a health fund to help those seniors with any medications or medical needs the senior they adopt might have.
There is a nonprofit “Pets for Seniors” in IL that matches a senior citizens with a senior pet at no cost and also pays for the medical, as well as helping these seniors find another match if the first doesn’t work out as expected.
But There Aren’t Enough
There simply aren’t enough of these programs!
When I was asked to help a humane society in GA to install a temperament testing program, I was appalled to learn that some animals were euthanized simply due to age and the fact that it was more difficult to adopt them out to the general public.
If instead of euthanasia, these shelters would install a program such as this; they would not only save lives but improve their numbers.
I personally, have never really been interested in numbers, but for those in this field they recognize that increased numbers of successful adoptions bring in more donations and revenue.
It really is a win win!
So, if you are in this field, or if you just love animals consider getting involved with a shelter in your community.
Getting One Started
Come up with a plan!
Talk with Seniors and find out if they would be interested.
Get a group of people who care, the more who are truly committed the better.
Talk to vets in your area, who might consider providing free or discounted medical care to these individuals.
If you are gung ho look into setting up your own nonprofit or 501(c)(3); I did when I trained Service Dogs and I did all the paperwork and set up on my own. I was truly dedicated to my cause!
Schedule an appointment to meet with shelter staff and propose that they install a program such as this.
List pros and cons and have an idea about the work that it would involve.
Be prepared to step in and help or assist the shelter. Shelter staff are often very underpaid and overworked and many simply don’t have the human resources to help a program like this get off the ground.
They will need help working with these senior pets, taking and sorting applications, and possibly help transporting pets to the vet or even to their new homes.
The most successful programs have good strong volunteers willing to help and work behind the scenes.
It would be nice to simply propose this idea and have it instilled, however in most cases that is simply unrealistic!
So if you really want to make a difference with people and pets, consider looking into this as an option!
I love senior citizens, I think they have so much love to give and time to cuddle.
I also love senior pets for the exact same reason!
Putting them together is a phenomenal idea and experience!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.