A year and a half ago, my family and I adopted Jock, an older beagle, from a local animal shelter. Until then, we were mostly a cat family, but when a friend who volunteered at the shelter told us Jock’s story, we decided to pay him a visit. He had been living at the shelter for a while and didn’t seem to attract any adopters, probably because of his age. Poor Jock was already around 10 years old when we went to see him. He was the least noisy dog in the shelter and just gently wagged his tail when we stopped in front of his cage. Our only requirement for bringing a dog into our home was that he or she must get along with our cat, and Jock has proved to be a friend to cats.
Usually, people prefer to adopt younger animals because they think they are cuter and more fun and that they can be educated more easily. I can swear that this isn’t true. Jock is turning 12 this year, and he still has loads of energy and learns new things everyday! He’s a real sweetie, good-natured, and patient, and he always goes to you when he senses that you’re feeling blue. He was a bit shy at the beginning and used to crawl around on the floor when he was naughty. But with time, patience, and love, he lost his worried look and is much more at ease at home now (sometimes a bit too much!).
Last autumn, a young stray cat was wandering around outside our house. Jock took his kibble in his mouth and put it on the ground in front of the cat—he clearly wanted to give her some food. A few minutes later, they were eating from the same bowl at the same time. The day after, we found them sleeping together in Jock’s basket. We gave Jock a home, and he decided to make room for the stray cat, whom we named Ginger. Jock has even learned to play with Ginger! He holds one side of a string in between his teeth and waves it above Ginger. Who said older animals were no fun? Ginger thinks he’s a great friend, and so do we.
Older animals are often left aside because people are prejudiced against them. They are the unlucky ones who are usually put to sleep first. They have sometimes been abandoned several times. Don’t let them end their lives in a shelter. Give them a chance. You could be surprised to discover how much personality and charm an older animal can have.
Posted by former intern Julia Lucas