“My little old dog … a heartbeat at my feet.” —Edith Wharton
Anyone who’s loved a cat or dog into his or her golden years understands the powerful bond shared following years of weathering life’s ups and downs together. And though our senior animals eventually succumb to health problems—a road not easily traveled— physical hardships don’t alter the size of their heart or their capacity to love.
But you may be surprised by the age at which your best furry friend is considered a senior. Different breeds age at different rates: Irish Wolfhounds (so adorable!) enter their sunset years at the mere age of 4.5; other breeds, like Dachshunds, don’t dip a paw into the next chapter until 11. (You can check your dog’s breed here.) Cats become seniors anywhere between 7 and 10 years of age. Keeping up on well checks helps you stay informed.
No matter the breed, our senior animals are easy to cherish! Here are five reasons why I think they are awesome members of the family:
1. They are calm. Having left the rambunctious puppy or kitten stage behind, older animals tend to lead a peaceful existence, napping longer and not getting into so much trouble. They’re always up for a snuggle, don’t bother you for as much exercise, and are usually great with children. You’ll get a full night’s sleep, too (something often interrupted by a puppy or kitten!).
2. They have it all figured out. The difficulties of housetraining and dog- and cat-proofing your home for a new personality are behind you now. And no more searching behind the fridge for your uber-curious kitten or dealing with destroyed furniture. Yes, the baby stage is so cute and often missed, but senior animals have finally figured things out—and have the wisdom and gentleness to show for it.
3. They have a lot of love to give! Senior dogs and cats may have gotten their rowdiness out, but their hearts are bigger than ever. These mellow sweethearts find happiness in a clean bed, fresh food and water, and their favorite people to nuzzle with their silver muzzles.
4. They are Reiki sponges. Whether you are experienced with Reiki or just starting out, senior animals are perfect subjects for practicing your meditations. They focus more easily and are usually grateful for your attentions to their aches and pains. And, having lived on this earth for many years, they’ve become wise teachers of compassion, generosity, love and patience.
5. You understand each other perfectly. What more can you ask for in a companion? The two of you have seasons of shared memories behind you and now “fit” each other perfectly.
For those looking to expand their fur family, all of the wonderful qualities listed above are also reasons why older cats and dogs are amazing choices at shelters. Thousands end up in shelters every year due to reasons beyond their control—often, they’re given up by aging caregivers forced to let them go. Sadly, senior animals are euthanized at higher rates than their younger counterparts, which is why senior cat and dog adoption is a cause close to my heart. When you choose to bring an older pet home, you truly are saving a life (and they’ll thank you every day for it). To support senior animal adoption, check out The Senior Dogs Project and Seniors for Seniors by PAWS.
Let’s remember today and always to celebrate our senior animals and make life extra special for them!
CLICK HERE for a 1-hour audio course to learn more lessons animals teach us and get inspired with practical tips to deepen your Animal Reiki practice!