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Milagro Interview: Why Senior Animals Make Great Pets…

Jeannie Fisher of Milagro Senior Pet Refuge on Why Senior Animals Make Great Pets and Need Loving Homes Too.

April 24, 2014 | furtheloveofpets

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Photos courtesy of Milagro Senior Pet Refuge
By Darryle Royal

Adopting a senior pet can be a great idea for some families or individuals, as they tend to require far less time and training, and for people looking to avoid the puppy or kitten phase where you lose sleep (just like with infants) and can’t turn your back without something being destroyed, senior pets are the perfect match.

Many times people are so intent on adopting puppies and kittens, not necessarily realizing all that is in store for them once they bring the pet home. Puppies under two or sometimes even older require a lot of time, energy, and training. Not everybody has the time for that, which is perfectly understandable.

But many pets who have done nothing wrong, besides grow up, find themselves the losing end of getting someone to adopt them. Senior pets are just as loving and loyal, and offer pet owners many benefits.
Although it’s true that as pets age they may require more patience and health care, the benefit you will receive from adopting one will far outweigh the potential work or burden.

Fur the Love of Pets spoke with Jeannie Fisher, the founder and CEO of Phoenix-based Milagro Senior Pet Refuge, who echoed the aforementioned sentiment, and offers her tips and advice on what you should know if you’re looking to adopt or possibly considering surrendering your senior pet.

Fur the Love of Pets: What are the biggest obstacles senior animals face in finding adopters?
Jeannie Fisher: I would say first the competition ― who can resist a little puppy or kitten? They’re just so much more fun, right? And a very close second place no doubt is the higher cost of care for senior pets. Now that their bodies are aging, senior pets need more care and veterinary attention; and that can translate into a significant investment of time and money that pet owners don’t always look ahead and foresee. The pet also will need more of your understanding and patience, which not everyone feels able and/or willing to give. So people tend to pass over the seniors at shelters, which is very sad, because seniors really are not much more work than adolescent pets. Seniors are already leash-trained, house-trained, litterbox trained, spayed/neutered, they’re out of the destructive chewing stage, and they make very few demands on you compared to adolescent pets. Most times they’re happy with just a soft bed and to know you’re close by keeping watch.

FLP: What are the main reasons senior pets find themselves in shelters?
JF: Again, the aging process brings changes in pets that oftentimes owners didn’t anticipate and just aren’t willing or able to accommodate. Understandably, cleaning up messes when a senior pet becomes incontinent isn’t any fun. But remember ― this is a labor of love. You committed to this pet the day you adopted him. You don’t discard him when it’s no longer convenient or as much fun for you ― any more than you would discard an aging parent or disabled adult child. The real test of a pet owner’s love and devotion comes when you are asked to step up and give more of yourself to ensure your pet’s wellbeing and continue to keep him safe and sound at home with you ― where he knows he’s safe, and surrounded by the people he loves and trusts. This is the circle of life ― we all help each other along the way. But many people opt instead to walk away, which is horribly tragic.

FLP: What are the pros and cons of adopting a senior pet?
JF: I can tell you without hesitation that adopting a senior pet will change you from the inside out. Your heart will never be the same. The downside, obviously, is in knowing that this wonderful new relationship will be limited by time, and you will feel robbed for awhile when you do eventually lose the pet to old age. But the peace you will get from knowing that you reached outside yourself and gave comfort and kindness to a poor lost old soul ― when it needed you most ― will be profound and you will carry that with you forever. This is God’s greatest gift, that we share a part of ourselves to lift up, to encourage, to protect, and to care for a life less fortunate than our own.

FLP: What tips or advice would you give to someone considering adopting a senior pet?
JF: Plan ahead. Be sure to commit the time and finances to be able to give a senior the best possible life he could hope to find. To adopt a senior and then not give him good food, good veterinary care, or the simple gift of your time and affection, would do him more harm than good. Do some research ― look online at various pet rescues for advice. Some may subsidize your costs for fostering a senior under their organization. Others will afford you an annual tax deduction for your out-of-pocket costs. I invite you to read “The Power Of Life And Love” on Milagro’s blog.This will encourage you as you consider adopting a senior pet.

FLP: What would your advise be to someone considering surrendering their senior pet?
JF: Take a moment to remind yourself why you chose this pet way back in the beginning, when the pet was young. He is still that same pet today, and together you have a loving history. That’s not something to be discarded. Remember that you are the person this pet looks to for love and safekeeping. You are the one he knows and trusts – you are the one who holds his heart. To walk away from your pet at this point in his life when he needs you most would be the end of his world. His body is failing him, and he’s trying to figure out how to live with blindness, or deafness, or arthritis, etc., and is most likely already a little fearful because of it. He would never be able to understand if you were to walk away from him now. Again, do some research. Some veterinarians will defer some of their costs to folks with senior pets ― it only takes a few phone calls to find one. And, as I mentioned above, some rescue organizations may subsidize the costs for care and food for a senior if you foster under their organization. Others will afford you an annual tax deduction for your out-of-pocket costs.

FLP: Is there anything else you’d like to mention regarding senior pet issues?
JF: If you’re considering rescuing a senior pet, definitely go into it with your heart and mind on board for a “labor of love.” You will come out on the other side a much better person. Never begrudge your little one when you find yourself cleaning up messes more frequently, or when he can’t keep up anymore on your daily walks, or if he wakes you in the night because he’s confused and can’t find his way to the dog door. The infinite reward will be in the gift you give to this precious animal in his most vulnerable time. There are many online resources that can give you guidance and support to help you make your pet’s twilight years full of happiness, peace, and love … for you and him both.

For more information on Milagro, please visit Milagro’s website. If you are unable to adopt, you can still make a difference. Donations are tax-deductible and gratefully accepted, no matter the amount.  Donate at our website: www.milagropets.org.

All photos are courtesy of Jeannie Fisher/Milagro Senior Pet Refuge, and feature pets for whom Fisher has found forever homes.

My Milagro

My Milagro ** Dec 25 1978 ~ Apr 16 1998  (20yrs old) My Milagro, my love.  It’s been years since you passed, and still I miss you – every day.  If a pet can be our soulmate, you were mine.  I may have given you a home, sweet little one, but you gave me a life.  I hope yours is the first face I see when I get to Heaven.

Izzy

izzy jun 09bIZZY ** (May 16 2008 ~ Feb 14 2013) Our sweet happy Izzy left us today to be with God and with his foster dad. He was the most awesome little bobble-headed boy, an outstanding buddy to Murphy, and a sweet comfort to us. He made us laugh and always wanted extra hugs. One chilly dark night he saved a tiny baby finch, carrying it in his warm soft mouth, and giving it to his foster mom for care. We feel so lucky to have found Izzy so we could add five loving years to his precious life. Memories of our beloved Izzy will warm our hearts forever. Farewell, little boy … for now.

Koki

koki srs pgKoki ** (Nov 2012) We said a very difficult goodbye today to our beloved Koki as he passed on, peacefully surrendering to old age and diabetes. Koki gave us a lifetime of love and light and joy, and we’ll hold him forever in our hearts. Thank you, God, for sharing one of your greatest gifts with us.

Max

max tnMax ** (Nov 22 2007 to Nov 3 2012) Good old Max passed on today. What a great dog he was. He gave Rhonda and Bob his love and loyalty and a few good laughs to boot. Even LugNut the cat misses him. Thanks for spending your twilight years with us, Max. You were a true gift.

Misty

Misty ** June 1 2004 (17yrs old) You are my little baby girl and were with me for more than half of my life; I miss you dearly. I’ll never forget your scratches on the door and your kneading on my back. I’ll never forget when the cable went out because you were chomping on the cable – sometimes it seemed you were a dog at heart. I hope you are experiencing as much joy and love now that you brought to our lives. George and I will never forget you and know that you are in our hearts forever.

Daniel

1211Daniel ** Aug 6 2004 (14yrs old) Daniel was with us only 4 weeks after we rescued him from the pound. But we loved him as if he’d been with us a lifetime. He was a quiet little boy with a very sweet spirit, and all the seniors loved him. I hope the short time you shared with us was happy, Daniel, and I hope you know you were loved dearly.

Monet

Monet ** Mar 18 2005 6yrs old) Monet, my heart still aches for you. I loved you more deeply than I’ve ever loved anyone or anything. How unfair that life took you from me too soon. But how beautiful and quirky you were – what happiness you brought to our home – and what precious memories remain. I’ll always keep you alive through my memories. I look forward to the day I can hold you tight again, my darling, my love, my Monet.

Jonah

jonah after 4Jonah ** Jul 8 2005 (17yrs old) Jonah, my little champion. The shelter vet said you wouldn’t live another two weeks. My friend said I just paid $75 for a dead dog. You gave me almost two years. Two wonderful years – guess we showed them about the power of life and love, didn’t we. People said you were lucky I found you . . . truth is, I’m the lucky one. You can’t buy memories like the ones between you and me. Rest well, my love.

Misha

1208Misha ** Nov 1 2005 (24yrs old) Misha, my love. You were with me longer than anyone else in my life. We were as close as best friends get. How strange without you here. Remember how we’d close our eyes and dance, you on my shoulder, to “Forever in Love” … I miss you.