Pets For Seniors

First I want to let you know that the vet said the growth on Charlie’s neck looked okay, like a subaceous cyst. He told me to keep an eye on any growths.

So that was a huge relief.

red flowers

Last week a woman emailed me and said she would love to have a pet, but is on a fixed income and could not afford food or pet care.

I have found programs around the country that help seniors with the costs of pet care, and the links are at the bottom of this post.

I had a Meals On Wheels route in Texas. Of the elderly residents that had pets, I always left wondering how much of the meal the resident would eat, and how much they were sharing with the pet.

Which, don’t get me wrong, I would be doing the same thing if I was in their shoes.

A few years before that I volunteered at an animal shelter in Oklahoma. I quickly found that eople wanted young pets, not senior pets.

There was one little black dog that was about 7 years old that was terribly frightened by all the noise of the dogs barking.

Well, you know me and noise. I felt so sorry for him.

I was a receptionist at the facility, and I would bring the dog to the front with me to get him farther away from the noise.

The dog’s name was Pepper. I took Pepper to visit people in the hospital (a captive audience) trying to find someone who might adopt him. I asked all over if someone might give this sweet shy dog a home.

That didn’t happen. And I already had two cats and two dogs. But I adopted him.

I had Pepper another 6 years and he was the sweetest little dog you could imagine. I have his ashes and at the end of my life, I want my pets’ ashes mixed with mine.

It was about four months after I lost Pepper that I got Abi and Charlie. I was still grieving losing Pepper, but I was ready to open my heart to new pets. This was 2006.

white and purple petunias

There are so many older cats and dogs waiting to be rescued. Puppies and kittens I’m sure go faster. But those older pets need a home too. They deserve a home.

Seniors always benefit from having a pet. It’s good for their health. Petting an animal lowers blood pressure. Often these seniors are depressed and lonely.

I know on my Meals On Wheels route it was evident that many of the seniors I delivered meals to were acutely lonely and just wanted conversation with someone.

I had to get those meals out while they were warm/cold. But I tried to take a few minutes to talk with them.

black petunias

If you’re reading today, reader who emailed me last week and whose name I can’t recall, (sorry) please don’t give up on having a pet. I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind. You obviously have the love to give a pet and you should have a pet companion.

Please contact some of these organizations and maybe your dream of having a pet will come true.

Best dogs for seniors

How to afford a service dog

Petfinder – Matching pets with senior citizens

Paws 4 A Cure

State specific programs

Dogington Post – For pet owners in need

Senior Help With Pet Care

Pet Care Resources

The Pet Fund – Links for various organizations for various pet care assistance

Heartwarming story…

Dog with cancer learns he’s been adopted article and video

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39 Comments

  1. Such great news about Charlie! My Lucie (chi-terrier mix) had a fatty cyst on her ear for several years, but the vet said it was ok and to just leave it. Suddenly it started growing more so they had to remove it and a little bit of her ear. However, it was not cancerous and she’s doing great! I can relate about Abi though. My beloved shih tzu Sabrina died 8 years ago and I still sometimes cry over her. I’ve never lived without a pet (except college) and don’t plan to!

  2. I love this post, Brenda – you’re so spot on. I also feel pets bring so much to a persons life, especially those living alone. I feel sorry for the ones who never get to know the love shared between a pet and his;her person.

    I loved your story of Pepper, such a kind soul you are.

  3. Great post, Brenda. It is so true. Actually, older pets make great pets for older people (if both are in relatively good health) because the pets aren’t as rambunctious and don’t put stressful demands on seniors.

    I hope you have a great weekend. You may already know this-or don’t use it but:
    There is a “fix” on my blog that seems to be working for those No Reply comments if you want to check it out. It is working for several of us-comments are coming into our email accts again.
    xo Diana

  4. I don’t know where I would be without a pet. Charlie Kitty was the best boy ever and 17 years while a long time was not enough. Now I have Annie Belle and she is a sweetie. Petting her calms me down. I’m so glad you have your Charlie!!

  5. We always adopt older dogs. Older dogs and black dogs seem to languish at the shelters. We find older pets make great family members. The downside is that we’ve buried a lot of dogs, some with us only two years and others, 6 or 7. But, I would never let that deter me from giving an old dog a comfortable home for however long. They seem to appreciate the second chance. For our current dog, we are her fourth (and last) family. It’s no wonder she fears being left behind every time we leave the house. But she’s a sweetie and she’s home, now.

  6. I can’t think of myself without a pet. I’m not that old, yet, only 63 & my husband & I have three dogs. One of my youngest is a rescue that needed a home at the ripe old age of 1 1/2. They are my comfort & my little family. Thank you, Brenda for giving out those addresses to folks who are willing to love & take care of a senior pet. That is so so sweet of you & I hope that poster will read your blog today & follow through on your suggestions.
    Thank you again & God Bless!!

  7. We have 6 cats and a dog, all rescues and a big part of our family. I couldn’t imagine life without them and it’s crazy sometimes but that’s okay, they give us so much love and joy. The cats are indoor cats as it is way too dangerous to let them out and the dog is like their big sister, she loves them and they love her.

    This person can definitely foster an animal and as somebody commented all bills are taken care of by the shelter, the only drawback is you tend to fall in love with all of them and you don’t want to give them up. Ask me how I know?? Six cats…….

  8. Some animal shelters have fostering programs. You take care of a homeless cat or dog and the shelter pays the bills. I know if three programs like that in my area. One friend takes care of animals waiting for a ride north. The other two are for indefinite periods of time. That might work for a person who must be careful with her income.

  9. I have a friend who makes jewelry (very pretty!) out of the ashes of pets. I lost touch with her when I gave up Facebook, but I could probably get a daughter to hook you up, if you are interested.

  10. You are so thoughtful to post all these places that might help seniors with pets. I have friend who just lost her little dog and she is afraid to get another one because she worries it would outlive her and she has no one to take her dog if that were to happen. She really needs a dog and I have been thinking of telling her to go ahead and get a dog and if something happened to her, I would take it in. I’m no Spring chicken myself so her dog might outlive me also, but if she got a senior dog, she wouldn’t have to think about outliving it.

  11. I am sure I’m not your only reader who is breathing in and out for the first time all day…now that we know Charlie’s good news.
    As a pet owner, I know one day the news I will get won’t be so good esp. the cat w FELK. . But to loosely translate a line in the movie Shadowlands., “ part of the pain of tomorrow is the joy of today”. The characters knew the wife was dying in near future and they were trying to fully enjoy the lovely day and picnic. I’m squeezing my furry ones extra tight today.

  12. I absolutely agree about adopting senior pets. I love looking at all the puppies, but they need to be trained and have high energy. The senior dogs are perfect for me, a senior. They appreciate the love that someone can give them. I wish I could adopt them all. Crazy, I know.

  13. Glad Charlie is ok. My mom lives in a senior apartment and they do not allow dogs so I naturally thought it was no pets at all. My mom has been so lonely and missing her dog that she had when she lived in Florida. Her dog died right before I brought her up here to live near me. My mom is being treated for cancer and has been pretty depressed and I kept thinking if she could have a pet to spend her time would be helpful. So one day out of the blue I saw the apartment manager and told her how I was surprised they did not allow pets here. It is a very nice place and I know they want to keep things very clean but I told her I felt animals are so good for everyone especially seniors.
    She turned to me and said we do not allow dogs but we do allow cats or kitty’s. OMG I was so excited to hear this. My mom is so excited she will be able to get a cat or kitten soon. She is having hip surgery in August and I want to hold off until that happens for her. Just telling her I will find her a cat to live with her made her whole attitude on life change.

    I do not know the first thing about Cats since I have always had dogs. So any cat tips you can share with me I would appreciate. I am thinking a rescue cat. Just do not know the first thing about them. My mom lives on a fixed income and is very tight each month so I may have to look into some of those programs you listed to see if she might be able to get some assistance.
    Happy Friday.
    Kris

  14. Such goodness about Charlie. I k ow how relieve you must be. So nice of you to post those places for animal
    Assistance. We adopted a 5 yo lab from the kennel. Turns out she has seizures which I’m not sure the shelter knew about. She has them less frequently than when. She first came. We jus stay w her and talk to her reassuringly when she has them. The sr says not to put her on meds her as it’s too hard on her liver.

  15. I miss having a dog and I am one of those people who just can’t afford it. Also I seem to have developed allergies to many of them. I love on my friends’ dogs as much as I can. xo Laura

  16. I found a place in CO that I didn’t know about called Colorado Pet Pantry that will feed your pet long enough for you to get on your feet and keep the dog out of a shelter. It’s in Boulder where there is also a coffee shop that opens its doors through the night, during bad weather, so homeless pets can go and stay warm. Now who would do that? Obviously a seriously good person.
    I found The Pet Pantry during Colorado Gives Day last November. I can only give a little but you spurred me on to do it again instead of waiting til the next CO Gives Day, so thanks.

  17. Thank you my dear. The vet I had actually ran in triathalons for the Farley Foundation. But, from all I knew of it you would have to be considered far more destitute than I would be deemed. Of course not being destitute does not mean “not struggling”. Quite the contrary as vet bills still sit on my cards from both boys. But then, people like you and I are going to eat crackers if need be and because they were just too important to us not to do what we could …and they know this too!

    They do have pet insurance now which some say is worth it and others say, not worth two cents. It’s a bit personal to me I think and probably because I worked in a clinic for a good 5 years. I won’t tow the popular line of thought with them either – won’t microchip – wouldn’t have my boys gonads cut off etc., so they tend to not like me a great deal LOL. Always grateful I can discern with them though and I wouldn’t be able to do that without the knowledge of working within a clinic.

  18. My mom, who is 87, doesn’t really like pets. When our elderly male cat died, she didn’t think we should replace him. She said we should just have our female cat, his sister, and after she dies, then not have any pets at all. My mom said that since we are in our 60s, we are getting to be too old to get more pets, since we will get elderly and won’t be able to care for them. My mom has a lot of opinions that seem mostly suited for herself and not for us! To us, it would feel very strange to get up in the morning and not have a pet to start the day with. We did get an adult male cat to replace the one who died, and when our female passes on, we will get an adult to replace her too. There are so many of the adults available that no one really wants and they are such good companions. And, a lot of places have a lower adoption fee for senior pets to try to entice people to be interested in them!

  19. Here in Canada the cost of veterinary care has become totally outrageous. It is positively true that before you can even consider owning a pet anymore you better think and think again many times over. Sad as it is, pet ownership is becoming a privilege of the elite only. I use to work as a vet assist and many times over owners would have their pet put to sleep because the costs to do more were just too expensive. This was the reality and heartbreak you saw regularly working in a clinic.

    I am no fancier of veterinary hospitals in general and they don’t tend to fancy me either. Atrocious costs in my estimation only mean more animals are going to suffer. Far too many people in general cannot pay these kinds of fees and they don’t. Last summer my boy got very sick on me when he ate a bit of beach sand. Being stuck way out there in cottage country I had to grab any veterinarian clinic available that would take him asap. I got him in and he made it through thank God but financially they took me right to the cleaners.

    I’m so personally fed up with the way animal care is now that I don’t even want to consider partaking anymore. I’m sure there are programs for help here too but from what I’ve seen they cover only what they deem necessary such as rabies vaccines and neutering.

    But …very happy for you and Charlie!

    1. I found this…
      Get assistance
      Some charitable organizations will help pet owners who are retired, on disability benefits or on a fixed low income and faced with expensive veterinary procedures. In Ontario, pet owners may be eligible for assistance from the Companion Animal Wellness Foundation (requests go through the Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Toronto) or the Farley Foundation, says Loughlin. Ask your vet about similar foundations in your home province.

  20. Because of family caregiving responsibilities, I am unable to properly care for a pet. However, I am very fortunate to have a neighbor who has two pets. When he is out of town, he knows I am always happy to tend to them. It is not the same as having a pet of my own, but all it costs is a small amount of time, and my neighbor really appreciates it. It’s a win-win arrangement.

  21. Brenda, you have a heart of gold – and Pepper was just one of many who’ve benefited from your goodness. Thank you for your advocacy for senior pets. So often they are abruptly dropped off at a shelter by adult children when their owner goes into a nursing home. I wish one of them would find it in their hearts to keep the pet and bring it for visits. How uplifting would that be?
    I never say anything out of respect to grieving pet owners who declare, “I’m never going through that heartache again,” refusing to adopt another, but what better tribute to their cat or dog’s memory than to rescue a little soul unwanted by anyone else?

    1. I feel the same way. If I thought Charlie would handle it okay, I’d be wanting to adopt after I get all these vet bills paid off. I’m just going to take his lead.

  22. Such good news about Charlie and I know you are relieved. I agree with everyone, older animals need a loving home just as much puppies and kittens. Older animals, many times, are already house trained and just want a warm bed and a good companion to spend their days with, which isn’t too much to ask of anyone. My Molly is a 10 year old rescue from a puppy mill and I’ve had her 8 years now; she wasn’t socialized at all and even after these 8 years with me, only 5 people can pet her, she is very slow in accepting of people, but has many fur pet friends in our neighborhood. Bottom line, she loves me and I her so as the saying goes we are “two peas in a pod”!
    Carol and Molly

    1. I can tell you love Molly very much. How wonderful that you two found one another, Carol and Molly! We all have baggage. I imagine that goes for pets too.

      1. Yes, I do love her very much and she me. I feel as though she licks (when she is nervous) a layer of skin off me every night. I’ll have to send you a picture; she’s got a Yorkie face, Chihuahua (sp?) ears, a longer body and long legs so I’m guessing that one parent was large for the breed. What is funny Brenda is my immediate family, Molly can’t stand, it’s neighbors that have won her trust. A funny story – when my phone goes off with that beeping sound, she jumps down, slinks out of the room and hides behind the toilet for a few minutes. She is such a funny little girl. Have a lovely weekend!
        Carol and Molly

  23. We adopt only rescue dogs and would opt for a senior dog in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the cost of vet care. Our previous adoption was a wonderful Maltese mix who had been previously abused and who had a heart condition. Her four years with us were a joy for us and for her, but the medical bills ran into the thousands. Even though Sophie was treated at an SPCA hospital, no discount was ever available (the hospital is on your list). We would never have denied her treatment due to cost or regretted our decision to adopt her, but it was a consideration when we adopted our next companion. There should be some assistance made available to encourage the adoption of wonderful older dogs.

    1. If you’re a senior and fit the income guidelines, there is assistance. Some is local and some is regional. And some are with organizations. By Googling around you can find these places.

  24. I just adopted an 8 year old Daschund named Mojo. He is the sweetest thing! He has no trouble with me and my walker and he is very patient with how slow I am. I am so glad we found each other!

  25. Wonderful post. Not only is it good news that little Charlie is fine but the links you have provided regarding pets are so thoughtful. I cannot imagine living without a pet; my husband travels during the week and my two dogs and cat provide me with company, entertainment, exercise, protection and lots of love.

    Hope the two of you have a wonderful weekend.

  26. I am so glad to hear that Charlie is fine. I can imagine your relief! You are such a great furbaby-mom.

    Thank you for the information you provided. I too am on a fixed income and sometimes have difficulty with the costs of pet care. I may need those resources in the future, so thanks again.

    When the time comes I plan to adopt an older cat or dog for mutual companionship. They deserve a great home too! Our humane society here has a lot of support and is now a no-kill shelter. They do a great job.

    1. I just thought I’d put those links out there. No one knows when they might need them or know of someone who needs them.

  27. Brenda,

    So happy to hear that Charlie is ok! IT is hard when a pet is sick or we find something or are pets seem unwell and they cannot tell us.

    There have been studies done and they say that pets lower your blood pressure and help you lead a longer and healthier life. I could not agree with you more about older people and pets! It gives them someone to love, someone to be with and to take care of. IT is a win win situation.

    Have a great weekend!

    1. It truly is. I hope through these links that a senior reading this might be able to have a pet companion. Or someone they might know.

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