Senior pets truly are the best pets! It’s coming up on 1 year since my husband and I “lifted up” our heart dog, Kota. Just today a memory popped up in my Facebook feed that a year ago we took Kota on a vineyard adventure. These memories trigger all of the “feels”. Little did we know that last summer would be our last summer together.
Kota lived her best life and we rescued her at just over 4 months old and she was about 11 1/2 when she passed on. She lived out some wonderful golden years with us!
Huskies rarely slow down. They aren’t the breed for everyone, as they do need a LOT of exercise and stimulation. Kota did slow down just a bit at around 7 years old. We didn’t run together like we did when she was younger. I think that was more of my fear. When it came to snow and winter, she definitely didn’t slow down there!
Having had the most amazing years with Kota, especially during those senior years when our bond was strongest, senior pets hold a special place in my heart. Puppies are cute… but there is nothing like the powerful connection with a senior pet.
When is a Pet Considered a Senior?
Are you wondering when your pet is considered “senior”?
It all depends! Breed/mix size plays a big role. Larger dogs, like Bernese Mountain Dogs and Irish Wolfhounds tend to age faster wit lifespans of 7-9 years. Smaller dogs, like poodles and chihuahuas, will become seniors later, and can even live until 17-18 years.
I remember when Kota was seven, she was called a “senior” – I took offense to that! She had tons of energy! I also remember chatting with a surgeon when Kota was 11 about an adenoma she had on her hind area. The surgeon said, “huskies live forever!” Little did we know we only had a few months left with her.
Our dog Halo that we rescued in December is almost 2 years old. She is Siberian Husky, and on the smaller side at 36 lbs. I’d love to this that she will liver “forever”.
I admit, I did NOT want a dog that young! Halo came into our lives for a reason (we needed her) and I wouldn’t trade her for anything.
Older pets are wonderful pets. Whether you’re looking to welcome a senior pet into your home or growing old with your own, here’s some of top reasons older pets are the jewel in the crown!
Reasons Senior Pets are the Best
Have you been with your pet through thick and thin over many years? Does your dog 100% know that they can count on you and trust that you will keep them safe?
Puppies and kittens take longer to get to know and develop a relationship with you. They must learn to trust. Trust takes time and patience.
With our dog, Halo, being a rescue and having been in two shelters, it took her quite some time to settle in. July will be 7 months with her and she is finally coming out her shell. The first few months she slept a lot and didn’t have a voice at all. Now she is sassy and I’m looking forward to our bond continuing to grow.
Kota, on the other hand, was my everything and the bond strengthened each year we were together. I didn’t push her to do things she wasn’t comfortable doing. I knew that “home” was her favorite place to be and I honored that.
“I never want a another puppy!” (haha!)…. I am grateful Halo came to us 100% potty trained! Potty training is hard work – especially in February at 3 AM with a windchill of -20 degrees below 0! Our Kota was not easy to potty train, but once we got through that phase it was smooth sailing!
Many older pets are already potty trained… or trained in other things for that matter. They might know a “sit” or “down”. Halo’s recall is absolute crap (not that huskies even have a recall!) We just finished our second round of manners class and she sure knows how to “tune me out”.
Just because a dog is older, does not mean that they can’t learn! Dogs are always learning every second, every minute, every hour of the day. They can be taught new things at any time.
The bond that you share with a senior pet. There is nothing like raising them from puppyhood. You both are completely in sync. You many even start to look like your dog!
Kota took on my sleep schedule. I laugh when people say their dog gets them up at 5 AM – i can’t imagine! My husband is up earlier than me, but Kota always slept until I got out of bed. She waited for momma to start the day!
I recently photographed Isla-Bee, a 9 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback. Nine is older for this larger breed. Isla’s mom has had her since 8 weeks old. These two were so connected and their relationship was beautiful to see. Isla even goes to work with mom . She’s living her best life!
Have you been there? Destroying shoes, remote controls, toys, tissues, couches…. anything is fair game. This is my life with Halo at the moment! We are fortunate she was crate trained when we adopted her. She gets into EVERYTHING! I love the crate as it keeps our dogs safe.
For a short time I even had to crate Halo when I hopped in the shower. After just 5 minutes one day she went from being cute and curled up in a ball on the couch… to chewing a huge hole in the cushion!
Kota was destructive until around 2 years old, and that was the time-frame we crated her. After 2, she didn’t get into anything. I’m not sure if Halo will be the same, but we aren’t attempting to give her the run-of-the-house any time soon!
If you rescue an older dog, they are less likely to be destructive… unless you have separation anxiety to deal with (that would be a whole different post!)
Have you had portraits done with your senior pet? Have you considered this?
I offer Memory Portrait Sessions for senior and terminally ill pets:
I am also a member of One Last Network, a group of pet professionals providing resources for pet owners to help navigate those difficult decisions during our pets golden years. I am also a certified pet loss grief specialist through the wonderful training of Angela of Big White Dog Photography. I am hear for you!
We also have a podcast tackling a variety of topics. You will cry. But you will laugh, too!
Last week I interviewed Julie Gass, veterinary social worker with the MSPCA. Give a listen:
Around the Circle
This week’s post is part of a pet photographers blog circle and we it’s the photographer’s choice of topics! Click on the link and follow along!
It just so happens that linking to Angela, who I mention above, today! Next up Angela Schneider of Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, Washington, loves your crazy dog in front of her camera. Have a happy and safe July 4th holiday!