Despite the many advantages of adopting older and senior pets, the odds are still stacked against more mature shelter animals. Yet for one lucky 12 year-old dog named Sox, his ship came in when he was adopted by a Navy family to keep company with their other senior dog.
Old dogs, old friends
Terry always dreamed about serving in the military, and in 2009 he made that dream a reality when he enlisted in the Navy. Initially stationed in Florida, he moved with his family to Virginia Beach for Permanent Change of Station (PCS), where he lives with his wife, Jessie, their four year-old son, Orion, and a 13 year-old black Lab/Husky mix named Frisbee.
The Navy veteran experienced firsthand how companion pets help military families, particularly children, deal with the inevitable stresses of military life. And in time he came to understand that the human members of the family were not the only ones who benefit from having pets at home.
“We had two dogs for many years and a couple of years go we lost our older of the pair,” Terry says. “Frisbee was on his own for the first time in his life.”
After the death of their eldest dog, the couple realized that Frisbee would benefit from another pet friend.
“We felt that he needed a companion, another dog to keep him company,” the Navy veteran explains. “Knowing that we didn’t want a puppy for our senior dog, we knew going in that we wanted to give a second chance to another senior dog.”
The benefits of community
In exchange for adopting an overlooked pet – one that is adult, special needs or a large breed dog – veterans receive various benefits to reduce the lifetime costs associated with pet parenthood, including a generous contribution towards ‘welcome home’ pet food, supplies and other essentials. The Virginia Beach SPCA offers Pets for Patriots members a 10% adoption fee discount and access to their low-cost, full-service veterinary clinic without demonstrating proof of income.
While Terry appreciates the “many benefits of using their service,” there were more compelling reasons for him to adopt through Pets for Patriots.
“Mostly because it is a community of military members with a common goal, to find their new best friend and given them a second chance at life.”
Two strikes, you’re in
Sox was a 12 year-old Pomeranian mix who – like all companion pets in shelters – found herself homeless through no fault of her own. With two strikes against her – older and with black fur – her prospects for adoption were slim to none. Little did the 14-pound shelter dog know that there was a Navy family looking for a dog who would complement their resident dog in age, temperament and lifestyle.
The senior dog’s adoption reveals a misconception about older pets: that they cannot adapt to new situations, people or other pets, and that they have little left to give. In reality, senior pets are often the most grateful for being saved, and the compassion of people who adopt them is rewarded many times over.
“We just love how playful she is and how she loves her new best dog friend,” the Navy veteran says. “She loves to lay snuggled on the couch with us to watch movies or go for a walk around the neighborhood with the family.”
Frisbee – the resident senior dog – is adapting to his “new” old companion as well.
“I think they are starting to learn that they are both here to stay,” Terry observes, adding that, “Our family is so happy that we have found Sox, and that she has become part of our family. She has brought joy and laughter to us, and we couldn’t imagine our family without her.”
Have you known the joys of senior pet adoption?