Older pets, just like Ricky and Shan mentioned here, can make the most fantastic companions, says National Pet Month sponsor Agria Pet Insurance.
Although older cats and dogs can be overlooked in rescue and rehoming centres, they often make the most fantastic pets. Of course, puppies and kittens have that cute factor, but if you look beyond the fluffy baby stage, an older pet can make a calmer and less demanding companion – the perfect choice for many owners, especially the elderly.
As well as providing companionship and lowering blood pressure, having a pet who loves you unconditionally reduces feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression – sadly sometimes felt among the elderly.
When that pet’s a dog, there’s the added bonus of having a reason to leave the house and have some exercise, with its associated boost of social interaction. And for those owners that worry a pet might outlive them, adopting a pet in their middle years and older can be rather reassuring, too.
At Agria Pet Insurance, we’ve recently started partnering with some incredible rescue and rehoming centres. By helping them give even their oldest residents access to insurance once they’re rehomed, we hope to assure potential adopters of manageable vet’s bills into their twilight years, and give older rescued and rehomed pets the best chance of finding their ‘forever’ home.
So, we were thrilled when our first charity partner went live onto our system recently. German Shepherd Rescue Elite is a fabulous nationwide charity run by Allison and Lizzy and their incredible team of 400 volunteers.
When it comes to rehoming the older German Shepherds that end up in their care, Allison and Lizzy see first-hand just how much they have to offer – especially when they’re paired with older people.
Take Liz Nelson. She’s a very active, vibrant lady who works full-time from home. It’s hard to believe it, but she’s 84. Liz has adopted twice from Lizzy, most recently the very handsome Ricky, who was around eight years old when he was rescued by German Shepherd Elite…
Ricky (pictured here) was found tied up outside a police station in London. As fate would have it, a German Shepherd Rescue Elite volunteer worked at the police station and took him straight to be fostered by Lizzy, who had him neutered, microchipped and vaccinated. And then, he caught Liz’s eye.
“I have had four wonderful German Shepherds – all were aged over eight and had been cared for by German Shepherd Rescue Elite. I knew the history of the first three but Ricky has an unknown background.
“Lizzy told me that he was lively and happy, but that’s putting it mildly. Lizzy brought Ricky here and he joined Sasa, an elderly female GSD. She was 13 when Ricky arrived at the end of 2014, and she tries to dominate him but he ignores this. What a personality. He loves attention, affection and food!
“We live opposite a famous park and in the middle is a glorious lake. Ricky plays with all the local dogs and is never aggressive. He loves the lake — indeed he seems to love everything — except being hungry. Ricky has learned to fetch sticks and walk off the lead in the park. He is so happy and, like other older rescue dogs that I have adopted, he almost seems to be grateful.”
Liz employs a dog walker to make sure her dogs get enough exercise and has many younger friends who also help out.
But it’s not just older people who can offer the ideal home to our older pets. With life experience and often a calm temperament, more mature animals make an ideal ‘ready-made’ pet – frequently already trained and ready to slot into life with a loving family.
Shan was eight years old when her owners got in touch with German Shepherd Rescue Elite and said they wanted to rehome her. It was nearing winter and she was spending all day outside in the yard, only going in at night.
She went onto the rescue centre’s website, but due to her age, there was little interest. Her owners got in touch again to say they couldn’t cope and if she couldn’t be rehomed they would put her down, and Allison stepped in; “We couldn’t let that happen, so we put her on our Facebook page for urgent fostering and hey presto! One of our volunteers in Cornwall was able to take her, which was a huge relief.”
After several weeks, Shan had to move on to another volunteer, and here it was soon discovered that she was suffering from the deadly infection, Pyometra. She was rushed to the vet who was able to act quickly and save her life. Her £1,200 surgery was paid for by volunteers doing a sponsored walk, raising additional donations, having a cake sale and more!
And at Christmas time, Shan found her perfect forever home with Linda, a previous adopter of dogs from German Shepherd Elite. She says,
“Shan arrived with me on Christmas Eve. She’s been amazing and has taken everything in her stride. She’s such a lovely well-behaved girl. My other Shepherd Zac and Shan have been friends from the day she arrived. She loves fuss and enjoys meeting new friends in the park. Shan’s such a lovely girl and has settled in really well, it feels like I have had her longer than three months.”
Allison says, “Shan will always be a favourite of mine as she has taken everything in her stride, from spending eight years in one home with very little interaction to globetrotting around the country and doing all this with a smile on her face!”
Older pets, without doubt, make a wonderful addition to a home. Could you give an older pet a ‘forever’ home and the retirement they’ve dreamt of?