2006-05-17 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Abbott and Costello Abbott and Costello Senior dogs are the golden oldies; the polished gems of the buried treasure in our town shelters. Most people walk right by them because puppies and young adults are more appealing. Too often older dogs wind up at the pound, through no fault of their own. They are given up for lots of reasons, usually lifestyle changesdivorce, moving, kids in college, job schedules, allergies, not enough time, illness or death of owner.... These mature dogs are innocent victims since most of these surrenders are due to family problems, rather than canine behavior problems. They would make wonderful pets...if only someone would notice them and give them the chance.

Dogs can be more faithful than their owners. Impulsive buyers purchase puppies with no knowledge of the end product. This is a real problem for certain breeds. Novices need to research the traits and energy level before making a 15 year commitment. Folks want a Jack Russell like Eddie on "Frasier" that turns out to have more energy than they do, or a white teddy bear puppy at the mall that transforms into a 150 pound Great Pyrenees. Sometimes the novelty wears off, like the fellow who turned a wonderful 6 year old Great Dane into the Babylon Shelter, claiming that his dog just got too big for his family. Perhaps the house shrunk since the Abbott and Costello since the Dane hadn't grown in years.

Sloopy at Oyster Bay shelter Sloopy at Oyster Bay shelter Consider adopting a senior dog. ("Senior" is a loose description of any dog that's 5 + years). Older dogs have so many adv a n t a g e s over puppies and young dogs. The elders have had some training. Some surprise us with knowledge of hand signals and an extensive obedience background. Most are housebroken. They may need a short refresher course after their confusing upheaval and prolonged stay in a shelter, but they retrain easily. They have manners and know the meaning of "NO". They should be over teething so your couch and Gucci loafers are safe. These dogs just need some time to readjust.

Most mature dogs have already lived with a family. They have been socialized and know how to get along with a pack. Many already behave around kids, cats, and other dogs. Older dogs, especially those who have had some positive human interactions, can become instant companions. They are eager to find out what is expected of them so that they get love and attention in return. They will bond like Super Glue with someone new. Trust medogs always remember who took them out of the pound.

An older dog has a tempo that may be more controlled and relaxed. The rambunctious, body slamming pup is gone. The seniors might have a touch of arthritis but that makes the older dogs no different from most of us. They are more laid back. The old timers are content to wait patiently next to you until you finish your morning coffee before a brief stroll around the block. So many older folks answer the Last Hope ads because photos of our foster dogs, pulled from town shelters, resemble their dog that recently died of old age. Our younger dogs can be too much of a challenge for them where our seniors are a better match.

Older dogs are a known entity. They will not grow taller or more coat. Their temperament and habits are easier to evaluate. Besides, you can teach old dog new tricks and shape him into your perfect buddy.

Your time together may be shorter but that makes each day more precious. If you have just lost an older dog, it's a tribute to your pet's memory to bring another older dog into your life. For those who want to save a life at a shelter, adopting an older dog is the ultimate act of compassion. As you gaze into the cloudy eyes of your new best buddy, you can promise that the rest of his life will be the best time of his life... for now he has you.

Yes, I'm having a sale on a duo of senior dogs this week, available at the Last Hope Dog Center (631-6432284) Rt. 109, Lindenhurst. "Abbott and Costello" are 2 friendly, older Yorkies that Last Hope rescued from Hempstead Shelter. They were found together as strays and we want to adopt them as a pair because they are so bonded. The tiny comedy team is a riot on the leash and gives out kisses instead of autographs.

Pets Available at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller Place, Syosset: Kitten season has begun. Adorable "Sloopy" #060360 is announcing the arrival of lots of babies. (He's also a subtle reminder to spay or neuter your own cat. Soon all the shelters will be inundated with kittens and the potential homes will dry up quickly.) If you are looking for a more mature model, consider "Casey"#060220a neutered, declawed black & white cat trained to walk on a leash. Dogs include "Dakota" a female Border collie/Shepherd mix and "Brono"a male black Lab mix.

For Adoption: "Zo”purebred, spayed German shorthaired Pointerrescued from an abuse situationthe quintessential "unconditional love" dog. Zo needs someone who will build her confidence. Call 631-6616164.

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