November is Adopt-A-Senior-Pet Month and animal shelters across the nation are doing their best to market their adult animals. “Think of a pet that is already trained and doesn’t chew or scratch everything in sight–a pet who will love you unconditionally,” said Kim Saunders, Petfinder.com’s Vice President of Shelter Outreach and Public Relations. “That’s what you get when you adopt a senior pet.”
An older pet is usually trained, already housebroken, and much easier to deal with. When it comes to puppies, it’s a no-brainer (at least for me). Puppies need to be trained, socialized, exercised, and constantly monitored. As they grow, a puppy will get into things, chew whatever crosses their path, and have accidents in the house. Adolescence in dogs begins at six months and lasts anywhere from 18 months to three years old, depending on the breed. According to experts, small dogs may mature physically more quickly than big dogs, but all dogs are typically immature mentally until they are at least two or three years old. They continue to need training, exercise, and socialization throughout this critical period. Having a puppy is a tremendous amount of work, sometimes more than people bargain for. It can be like adding a new baby to the household!
Aside from the amount of work that goes into caring for a puppy, you may not be able to predict how your puppy will mature. I will never forget when my friend Amy Morgan adopted a puppy that was supposed to be a German Shepherd mix, and was told he would only get up to 50 or so pounds. One year later, she realized her dog was a Great Dane/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix and he ended up being more than150 pounds. Of course she still loved her dog regardless of size and took great care to exercise him daily, but not everyone is like Amy. I can’t tell you how many people turn their adult dogs into shelters because they’ve gotten too big. Just be sure you’re ready to commit to a puppy (who might not be what you bargained for) before you jump in.
Older dogs are perfect for first-time dog owners. If you are adopting a dog for the first time, it’s best to start with an adult dog, one that doesn’t require as much time that is necessary for training and socializing, not to mention the chaos that comes with puppyhood. My friends Butler and Kendra recently visited from New York and spent time with our then four-month old son. They honestly said that caring for their new puppy seemed almost as demanding as taking care of a baby. Luckily, these two are not first time pet owners, so they are up for the challenge. If you’re not sure you are, spend some time with people who have a puppy to get a realistic picture of what it’s like.
When it comes to cats, seniors make great pets. Many adopters say that when they’ve rescued a senior cat, the cat seemed to understand he or she has been rescued and is very grateful. Senior cats are much more mellow and you don’t have to worry about your feet being attacked in the middle of the night or having something knocked over, crashing, and waking up your newborn baby who finally went to sleep (yes, this happened to me). And, an important bonus, adult cats already have a personality, so you know what you’re getting. Most importantly, you’ll know if the cat is going to be a good fit for your family. Most often, senior cats know that scratching posts are for scratching and they know what items are appropriate to play with. Last, but not least, senior cats are some of the hardest to find homes for, so you know when you adopt a senior cat, you’re truly saving a life.
Most people don’t realize that just as people are living longer than they did in the past, so are cats. According to petfinder.com, the percentage of cats over six years of age has nearly doubled in just over a decade and there is reason to believe that the aging cat population will continue to grow. Moreover, when it comes to equating a cat’s age to human years, it’s a misconception that every “cat year” is worth seven “human years”. In fact, a one-year-old cat is physiologically similar to a 16-year-old human, and a two-year-old cat is like a person of 21. For every year thereafter, each cat year is worth about four human years. Using this formula, a 10-year-old cat is similar, age wise, to a 53-year-old person, a 12-year-old cat to a 61-year-old person, and a 15-year-old cat to a person of 73.
During Adopt-A-Senior-Pet Month, take the opportunity to get acquainted with the older pets available at your area shelters. You can also visit: petfinder.com to find exactly what you’re looking for in a shelter pet.
San Diego-based travel journalist Maggie Espinosa recently published a book titled The Privileged Pooch, Luxury Travel with Your Pet In Southern California. The 206-page, full-color guide profiles unique pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, activities, and shops from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Twenty-one pages are devoted to the Santa Barbara/Ojai area. Espinosa will be in town for a book signing at the State Street Barnes & Noble on Saturday, November 20, 2-4 p.m. For more information, visit travelwithmaggie.com
Benefit for K-9 PALS
“It Had to Be You” by Acting Up Productions as a benefit for K-9 PALS. This absurd, fast-paced romantic comedy is about Theda Blau, a failed actress, health food nut, analyst and would-be playwright who wants to find love and success in New York, and Vito Pignoli, a hugely successful TV commercial director. By hilariously holding him hostage in her apartment on a snowy Christmas Eve, she attempts to convince him to be her partner both on the page and off. A very engaging play, full of emotions and unexpected twists and turns is sure to add fun to your holiday season! Performances take place at Center State Theater, Paseo Nuevo Mall, Santa Barbara. Thursday-Saturday, December 2-4 and 9-11, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, December 5 and 12, at 2 and 7 p.m. General Admission tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. For tickets, visit centerstagetheater.org or call 805-963-0408. The Center Stage Theater box office is open Wednesday-Friday, noon to 5 p.m.
K-9 PALS, k-9pals.org is the only non-profit organization that provides care and services for the stray and abandoned dogs of the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter in Santa Barbara. Go to the show for a little culture and you’ll be helping the county shelter dogs.
Casting Call for Toto in The Wiz
Big Stage is on the lookout for a pup of any size, shape, age, or color who possesses an outgoing personality and excellent manners. Canine thespians will audition in front of a panel of area animal experts including John Sorosky, owner of Camp Canine, Bud Stuart, DVM, and Karen Lee Stevens, founder/president of All for Animals. The winner will be cast as Toto and be part of the stage production at the Lobero Theater in January.
Auditions will take place this Saturday, November 13, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Petco in the Five Points Shopping Center (3985 State Street). The audition fee is $20 per dog and 50 percent of the proceeds will go to All for Animals, a non-profit humane education and animal advocacy organization dedicated to teaching children and adults about the importance of compassion to all animals.
Even if you don’t have a dog, stop by and lend your support to two great causes: kids and canines!
For more information, contact Kathy Kelley at (805) 708-8897 or send an email message to email@example.com.
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Daisy is a 4 month old, 20 lb. and growing Hound mix who is as beautiful on the inside as she is on
the outside. Found abandoned on the beach, Daisy is proving to be a smart, affectionate, and playful young girl. She loves other dogs, passed her cat test and will do great in a family with kids ages 5 and up.
To find out more about Daisy and all her doggie pals, visit us at K-9 PALS, 5473 Overpass Road, 805-681-4369 or online at www.k-9pals.org.