Could Your Pet Be a Model?

B.C. Family's Dog Saves
Boy from Cougar Attack
Douglas Quan ,

A golden retriever named Angel was credited with saving an 11-year-old boy's life after a cougar charged at the boy in the family's backyard in Boston Bar, B.C. Jan. 3, 2010. (RCMP handout)

A cougar attacked a B.C. family's golden retriever Saturday night after the dog stepped in between the cougar and an 11-year-old boy.

Police, who later shot the cougar dead, credited the 18-month-old dog -- Angel -- for saving the boy's life.

Austin Forman had gone to retrieve some firewood outside his family's home in Boston Bar, about 200 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

That's when the cougar began to charge across the yard at the boy.

"I was really scared. At first, I didn't know it was a cougar. I thought it was another dog," Austin told CTV News on Sunday. "As soon as it went underneath the light, I saw that it was a cougar. I knew at that moment, I had to go inside."

Angel, who had been at Austin's side, engaged the cougar, which was slightly larger than Angel.

Austin, meanwhile, ran into the house and screamed, "A cougar is eating Angel!" his mother, Sherri Forman, recalled in a phone interview with

Forman said she had to get Austin to repeat himself a few times because he was so shaken.

Forman said she looked out the window. She couldn't see anything but could hear Angel wimpering.

"To feel so helpless, I knew I couldn't do anything," she said.

She called her father-in-law, who told her to call 9-1-1.

RCMP Const. Chad Gravelle was nearby and was on scene within a minute.

The officer found the cougar under the back porch and heard the dog cry out as the cougar chewed on its neck, police said.

The officer fired two rounds into the cougar's rear end, but the cougar continued its attack.

The officer closed in to within five feet and shot the cougar again, killing it.

Even after it was killed, the cougar's jaws were clenched on Angel's face, Forman said.

Angel was silent for a few moments but then took in a big gasp of air and got up.

Forman said Angel was recovering Sunday with a local animal caregiver. The dog has numerous puncture wounds around her head and neck, as well as a swollen eye.

Forman said before the attack, Austin had come into the house to tell the family how cute it was that Angel had been following him around.

"She must've known something was up," Forman said.

Last week, when Angel was frolicking in the snow, family members called her a "snow angel," Forman said.

"Now, she's our guardian angel."

A Dog's Eye View
of the Birds and the Bees
Adam Brophy -

LOTS OF PEOPLE have said to me that having a pet is a wonderful learning experience for children. Mine have fish and a dog. If they were held responsible for the feeding of either, as they are supposed to be, both would have starved long ago.

The fish lost their lustre way back, probably because their tank’s glass is impenetrably filthy. The cleaning duty has also fallen on me and it’s not one I relish. Yet they’re like cockroach-after-a-nuclear-strike fish – they just won’t die and I can’t bring myself to flush or starve. They will have to go naturally.

The dog, though, is gorgeous. Stupid, really stupid, but gorgeous. She has managed to wriggle into their hearts, in so far as they rush to see her and squeal when they get in from school. Not so much that they feed her and walk her. That falls to their mother. As does the relentless cleaning up of excrement, because even after two years the dog still sometimes doesn’t quite make it outside, especially if it’s wet and cold out there.

Because she’s delicate, and very stupid.

So, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how a dog in general provides some sort of learning experience for kids. She provides a lot of hair and no end of saliva that she loves to slobber over all of us, but not much in the way of education.

Until now that is, now that she’s gone and got herself knocked up. Our first teen pregnancy and hopefully the last. Not only is she stupid, she’s a bit of a slapper.

Even as I write this I’m a little nervous because I’ve learned from experience that the first mention of ambivalence towards pets brings out the animal brigade.

I could write about locking my kids in the attic 364 days a year and not raise a single protest in response, but suggest that my dog bugs me and the inbox will be afloat with threats and declarations that I should be tarred, feathered and fed Pedigree Chum for the duration of my days.

I will be reliably informed that there is no such thing as a stupid dog, only stupid owners. In capital letters, with a random sprinkling of exclamation marks.

In a bid to cut the Barbara Woodhouse apostles off at the pass, here are the facts. The dog is stupid and pregnant and gorgeous. Pet-wise, yes I too am quite stupid and naive to have let her get into this state. I should have had the job done before the opportunity arose and a shaggy Shih Tzu Lothario got his paws on her.

But he did, and if I could, I would now put a shotgun to his temple and inform him he has a family coming and he better get used to the responsibility. But I can’t, and instead our utility room is being turned into a Christmas manger as we await the arrival of our illegitimate, trailer-trash cross Dachshunds-Shih Tzus. Say that when you’ve had a feed of moonshine.

She’s got fat and she waddles round the house looking at us with eyes like the cat in Shrek. She’s under our feet all the time (mainly because she has the turning circle of the Lusitania), she mooches everywhere, squeaking sad whines. These whines sound to me like: “Hey, why has this happened? I should be out clubbing with my mates, not stuck inside with swollen ankles and varicose veins.”

Finally, the learning has come. Now that she’s all dopey and sad, and following me round as if I’m a perma-bag of cooked ham, she’s only gone and gotten impossibly cute again. Not only that, but she’s finally figured out how the toilet thing works. And because she’s up the duff, she’s over scratching at the door every 15 minutes. I don’t want to drown her anymore – in fact, if I could, I’d be giving her little foot massages and bringing her whatever would satisfy the ridiculous cravings she is undoubtedly enduring.

The kids are interested, astounded at her girth and gobsmacked at the possibility of the number that might be in there. The unexpected pregnancy has led to a number of interesting dinner table conversations, my favourite being: “Can dogs be lesbians?” Watching an eight and a five year old chewing over this topic over was one of the highlights of 2009. Conclusion: “Why not, but the pups need a daddy.” Oh, you betcha.

I’ve experienced the cycle of the father of the pregnant teen. From rage to disbelief to acceptance and joy. A wonderful learning, only with a few pups at the end. Now, who wants one?

Stop Your Dog From
Jumping Up To People

Did you know that a dog jumping up on people can be hazardous? It is also irritating and humiliating. Use the following tips to stop your dog from jumping up to people.

As puppies, this behavior may be considered cute. As they get bigger, the same behavior tend to become a big issue and can be hard to overcome. If you feel bad about your dog jumping on you, think about what your visitors might be feeling.

Every time you come home or have visitors your lovable dog jumps all over you and your company ruining their freshly cleaned and ironed pants

Elderly people or small children risk being knocked over by your dog if the dog jumps up on them.

Having a dog hop up on people is their way of showing that they are ecstatic to see them.

Taking control the situation may be why your dog jumps up on people.But it is more likely that he does it to get your attention.

Teaching your dog that jumping on people is not good is a choice you have to make.

Do not hit your dog to stop the behavior. It does not work. If you reward your dog with attention, the behavior will happen more often. Be consistent in the message that you are trying to communicate to them. Anyone who come close to your dog has to do the same thing.

At the first sign of jumping, turn away from your dog. Don't say anything or make eye contact with the dog. This lets the dog know that they will get nothing from you.

Wait until the behavior has stopped before giving your dog affection. This will teach him that if he does not jump, he is more likely to get your attention.

Another method is to offer your dog something an alternative like sitting. This is known as alternate behavior training.

Reinforcing positive behavior when teaching your dog not to jump is quiet simple. Be consistent in your efforts and the problem will disappear. Follow the methods that I have described and you will definitely be on the right track towards correcting his inappropriate behavior.

Author Resource:

Author Remco van Reenen is an expert on dogtraining and on his website you can read a lot more articles. You can also get lots of accessories to make training your dog easy in the section puppycursus.

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Pet Talk:
Rabbit Helped Woman Survive,
Escape Domestic Abuse
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

The rabbit, Ruby Angel, was named for the mark on her nose, which her owner thought looked like an angel. It gave the woman hope when she was homeless after leaving an abusive marriage. By Larry Lanius II

It's the time of year when you sort of expect miracles.

And they actually do happen. Here's evidence.

In November, Joy Gioia, head of the St. Louis chapter of the House Rabbit Society, which takes in and re-homes some of the growing number of pet rabbits landing in animal shelters, got a heartbreaking call. It was from a woman who'd been abused by her husband for a very long time and had finally screwed up her courage in October to flee … with nothing but her rabbit. (The woman's name is not being divulged here to protect her safety.)

She'd lived on the streets for a time, she told Gioia, making do with handouts. When food was scarce, she made sure there was enough for the dark-furred bunny she had named Ruby Angel because the white mark on her nose resembled an angel. Every night, when they were huddled in the dark, the woman would stare at the angel shape on the rabbit's nose, something that, for some reason, gave her hope.

She'd found a place to hole up. There was no heat or running water, but there was a roof and four walls. The gashes and bruises from the last beating were beginning to heal. She was feeling a little more secure, a little more capable of thinking ahead to more than just the next morning. But when a sudden cold snap hit, she knew there were time pressures that couldn't be ignored. She worried the rabbit — her only friend, really — wouldn't survive months of hard winter. She had to figure out a way off the streets, something more permanent.

She had contacted a crisis center for abused and battered women and saw the place as something of a beacon, a chance to start a new life, but the center doesn't accept pets. And that's why she was calling the rabbit rescue group that day. She'd take the crisis-center opportunity, she told Gioia over the phone, only if Gioia could provide haven for Ruby Angel. If not, she'd stay on the streets and do her best to keep herself and the rabbit safe and warm.

"House Rabbit Society chapters rarely accept pet rabbits from individuals because there are so many abandoned, homeless rabbits facing euthanasia at animal shelters needing to be rescued," Gioia says. "There is always a waiting list" for foster care.

This, however, seemed a case worthy of exception-making.

A volunteer went to collect Ruby on a cold day. The woman she found clutching a rabbit wore no coat; her one blanket was wrapped around the animal. The scars from years of beatings were obvious, the bruises from the last one faded but unmistakable. Ruby, the woman said, had been her only reason for surviving.

It was painful beyond words for her to give up the companion that had meant so much to her for every minute of the four years they'd spent together. But she did it.

Ruby Angel is now safe, basking in loving attention at a foster home. Her front teeth, knocked out by the woman's husband in one of his rage-filled moments, have grown back. (Rabbits' teeth grow continually.) But that's not the end of this story.

There are at least two holiday-season wonders connected to the events that transpired after that cold-day phone call. Because Ruby gave a desperate woman hope, now, perhaps, she can move forward through a violence-free future. She's working hard on making that happen.

The woman's escape timing was fortunate for Ruby, too. The rabbit was saved not just from more abuse, but from cancer. When Ruby was spayed two weeks ago, as is the practice when HRS accepts rabbits, she was found to have uterine cancer. The cancer had not yet spread, so Ruby has a future.

But miracles have a way of snowballing forward, and this one seems to have done just that. The woman's story inspired members of the House Rabbit Society in St. Louis to help others like Ruby's owner.

They've collected vast amounts of clothing and other necessities for the women who seek crisis-center refuge, often with children, usually without notice or means or a single possession. The numbers are escalating, and the center has an ever-growing need for the essentials that allow the residents a little dignity. Things such as toothpaste and a decent sweater.

Every few days, HRS volunteers have been delivering mounds of donations. "So many women will benefit from Ruby Angel's story," says Gioia. "She has truly touched peoples' hearts."

And the outpouring has meant the world to the women and children at the shelter. "This kind of support is just wonderful," says shelter director Jessica Brandon.

There's yet another twist. The woman who stepped forward to care for Ruby, unbeknownst to society members, had escaped domestic violence herself. She and her family will give the rabbit a loving home while Ruby's owner tries to extricate herself from the horrors of her history and set a new course. If she's unable to take Ruby back, the bunny's current home will become permanent, a place where she'll always be warm, well-fed and loved.

Which is how it should be for a rabbit who has already inspired so much goodness for so many people.

8 Simple Tips For Keeping
Your Pet Birds Healthy
by admin in Birds -

1. Birds would like to eat a nutrionally sound diet in order to live an extended life. Improper feeding can result in malnutrition and disease ensuing during a shorter lifespan. Start off by feeding your bird right from the beginning.

2. Parrots and birds of the parrot family will eat a selection of different kinds of foods. Seeds ought to not be a parrot’s solely food. This is an error many new bird owners make. Seeds contain largely fat and not enough protein and terribly few vitamins.

3. Birds will eat most table foods but it’s best to stay to healthy things including things containing whole grains, pretzels, and whole wheat pastas and bread. Foods high in fat should be avoided. Never feed them avocados as they are toxic to birds.

4. Good sources of nutrition for your bird include beans and legumes as well as various vegetables and fruits. Some birds resist new foods at initial whereas others are open to making an attempt many new things. Though it could take some time keep attempting to introduce your bird to a selection of healthy foods.

5. Changes to a bird’s diet should be done slowly and progressively over time. Provide recent foods twice per day for approximately an hour each time. Take care not to leave contemporary food in the bird’s cage too long as it can develop bacteria that will build your bird sick.

6. Your bird should be fed two times per day. This will end in your bird getting hungry which can create it more active. Conjointly, a sensible appetite will make it additional likely that your bird can strive new foods. Feeding at set times twice per day will conjointly allow you to be able to watch how abundant your bird is eating. If your bird isn’t eating well this can tell you that it’s not feeling well or features a health problem.

7. If your bird may be a picky eater and you cannot get it to eat a varied diet you’ll be able to try warming or cooking the vegetables. Remove seeds except at time for dinner till your bird starts eating healthy foods on an everyday basis.

8. Just as water is critical for people it is also necessary for healthy birds. Keep your bird’s water dish filled with contemporary, clean water at all times. Bird bowls can become very dirty and should thus be cleaned every day with hot soapy water. Once each alternative week you ought to clean your bird’s water dish with a resolution containing bleach. Also create it a point to choose up some water soluble bird vitamins at the local pet store and add vitamins to your birds water daily.

Birds build wonderful pets for the entire family and they’ll live a very long time if taken care of properly. Correct care of birds includes maintaining a healthy diet of seeds, vegetables and fruit.

Deal of the Week 120x60
AmeriMark Direct is a leading direct marketer of women's apparel, shoes, name-brand cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, watches, accessories, and health-related merchandise.

Could Your Pet
Earn Money As A Model?
Author: ModelsDirect -

People tend to forget about pet modelling, but just think of all of the animals that appear on TV, advertising everything from pet food to fashion, catalogues to films. They are all somebody’s pet, and if you’ve got a cute cat or a perfect pup it could be your pet that becomes the next top pet model!

Specialists in commercial modelling, Models Direct is just one of the many agencies that represents pets. Here they offer some tips and advice on starting your pet’s modelling career.

• Your pet must be well trained. Photographers may not have much time and so no one wants it to be wasted chasing an animal around the studio! If you have a dog, there are loads of training courses around that could help you keep your pet under control.

• There can be lots of people working on modelling assignments, including photographers, stylists and other models so it’s important that your animal likes being handled by other people.

• As well as being used to people, your pet also shouldn’t be too easily distracted by sounds and flashing lights.

• Let your agency know of any special talents or tricks that your pet can do, as it may help them stand out against clients’ other choices. Just make sure they’re willing to perform these for the cameras and not just in your own home!

• If you attend a pet modelling assignment remember to take everything you need along with you including toys, treats, some water and a bowl and a basket or carry case for them to rest in – just in case the shoot is running late.

• Remember, just like any other type of modelling, pet modelling is very competitive. There are millions of pet owners and lots of them will believe their pet has what it takes to be a model.

Models Direct has handled dozens pet assignments, ranging from appearances on television catalogues and magazines to images for product packaging.

Too-Long Tethering of Pets
in Salt Lake County Could
Spur Charges
By Arthur Raymond - Deseret News

Leaving the family pet tied up outside for excessive time periods or in severe weather could result in criminal charges under a new ordinance the Salt Lake County Council approved.

SALT LAKE CITY — Leaving the family pet tied up outside for excessive time periods or in severe weather could result in criminal charges under a new ordinance the Salt Lake County Council approved Tuesday.

The statute allows for a warning on a first incident but could result in a citation and fine on a subsequent offense.

Gene Baerschmidt, director of the Humane Society of Utah, said there is no question that long-term tethering is cruel to animals.

"We think it is absolutely inhumane to tether dogs for 24 hours nonstop," he said.

But, "most Utahns take very good care of their pets and treat them like members of their family," he said.

Baerschmidt added that while cruelty does occur, most people are good pet owners. While the nine-member council unanimously passed the new tethering ordinance, changes of county statute require two successful votes. The final vote will take place in January.

Council Chairman Joe Hatch sponsored the proposal that was crafted by the Humane Society of Utah and Salt Lake County Animal Services. Under the rule, anyone who leaves a pet tethered for more than 10 hours in a single stretch or in severe weather conditions could be issued a citation. It also includes language that requires a tied-up pet to have adequate food and water.

Hatch said he'd like to see the changes function first as a deterrent, then as a punishment, if necessary.

"My hope is that by highlighting this issue, people will start rethinking their behavior and recognizing they can't just tether a pet for 24/7," Hatch said. "If this is what you are doing, you need to stop. If you don't, you could be charged with a crime."

Humane Society of Utah spokesman Carl Arky said tethered pets generate frequent calls to his group.

"Last week I was contacted by someone who said he'd been watching a dog who's tied up regularly for 24 hours a day," Arky said. "Currently, an animal control or law enforcement officer can't do much about it."

The new rules will give authorities a basis for action, he said.

Arky said the expectation is that a first infraction would draw a warning and a subsequent incident could result in a citation and fine of up to $250. A third offense would be a class C misdemeanor, which carries a $750 fine and 90 days in jail, while a fourth offense would bump to a class B misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

Arky said the real strength of the new statute could be raising awareness levels.

"We want a new law that has some teeth in it," he said. "But what we're really trying to do is raise the quality of interaction between human beings and dogs."

Arky said the new statute was crafted after existing laws in 100 cities in 30 states.

Popular Pet Cat
Snatched From Restaurant

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- Investigators are hoping surveillance video will help them find a beloved pet that was taken from a popular Orlando steak house.

The surveillance video shows a woman walk up and swipe the cat, named T-Bone, as he sat in front of Linda's La Cantina Saturday night.

SURVEILLANCE: Video Of Cat Snatched

For three years, T-Bone has lived on the restaurant's property and was cared for by the owners, customers and employees.

"All of the customers know T-Bone. All the kids who come want to pet T-Bone. They save part of their meal to give to T-Bone. They give us money for shots. It's phenomenal how everybody cares about that cat," said Karen Hart, Linda's LaCantina.

If you recognize the woman seen in the surveillance video or if you have information about the cat, please call the Orlando Police Department or Linda's La Cantina.


Woman Returns Cat,
Thought It Was Stray

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A woman returned a pet cat Thursday evening that was taken from outside a popular Orlando steak house. Surveillance video caught what was believed to be someone stealing the beloved pet, but the woman caught on camera said she thought it was a stray.

Investigators released the surveillance video Wednesday, hoping it would help them find the pet that was taken from outside Linda’s La Cantina on Saturday night. The surveillance video shows a woman walk up and swipe the cat, named T-Bone.

It turns out the woman thought the cat was a stray and was going to take it in. However, a friend of the woman saw the surveillance video on TV and told her about it and she immediately handed the cat back over.

For three years, T-Bone has lived on the restaurant's property and was cared for by the owners, customers and employees.

"All of the customers know T-Bone. All the kids who come want to pet T-Bone. They save part of their meal to give to T-Bone. They give us money for shots. It's phenomenal how everybody cares about that cat," said Karen Hart, Linda's La Cantina.

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Achieving Dog Training Success
With The 18 “Don’ts” Rules

A well-train dog typically leads a happier and healthier life and its owner conjointly will enjoy a bother-free life long companion. Dog training – basic obedience, house and potty training are therefore essential and vital to a dog’s education.

The conventional methodology of dog training tips and guide would be to list a series of things that you must “Do” and you might even know the A-Z of dog coaching! However generally what ought to be done will be said best by telling what should not be done. Hope you trust me!

This text seeks to list eighteen “Don’t” once you train your dog. The explanations for the don’ts will become evident as the teachings continue and each one relies upon the distinctive psychology of the dog’s mind.

1. DON’T punish your dog whereas you’re angry or lack management of yourself.

2. DON’T punish your dog with the lead or any instrument of coaching or something he ought to come with duty or pleasure.

3. DON’T sneak up on your dog or grab him from the rear.

4. DON’T chase your dog to catch him; he must return to you or run when you.

5. DON’T coax your dog to you and then turn upon him with the whip. You will regret the deception.

6. DON’T trick or fool or taunt your dog. It is cruel and inconsistent to tease your dog to come to you when he will not.

7. DON’T punish a dog by stepping on his paws needlessly. They’re exceedingly sensitive. Don’t twist his ears playfully or otherwise. Never strike him on the backbone, in the face or on the ears.

8. DON’T grab your dog or reach for him quickly. He should never fear his master, ought to not be created nervous by his master, and ought to feel that punishment given is deserved.

9. DON’T nag your dog; do not be giving orders to him constantly; don’t pester him with your shoutings.

10. DON’T praise a dog for doing a certain act, then at a later time, scold him for doing the same act. If you permit him to bite your toes these days and suppose it fun, don’t strike him for doing it tomorrow, when you’re not in smart humor. Consistency could be a chief virtue in dog training.

11. DON’T train your dog immediately or soon when he has eaten.

12. DON’T lose patience with a puppy younger than six months. Never throw or kick a puppy nor lift him by the top or leg or skin of the neck.

13. DON’T train him in feats requiring abundant strength or endurance till he’s at least six months old.

14. DON’T work your dog without some short rest or play periods throughout training. A five-minute rest for every fifteen minutes of coaching is desirable.

15. DON’T allow everybody to allow commands to your dog. While you are training him, he must be a one-man dog, depending on you alone to feed him and take care of him.

16. DON’T take into account tricks the chief finish or the chief half of training. Usefulness is the article sought in all instruction of the dog. Acts that spring naturally from the dog’s instincts are to be fostered.

17. DON’T expect your dog to be a beautiful dog after a few weeks of coaching; four months to a year could be necessary in order to create the master pleased with him, but the work is price the effort. Training never ends.

18. DON’T jump to the conclusion that your dog is dumb. He could differ with you believing {that the} trainer ought to apprehend additional than the dog.
To finish, attempt to recollect these eighteen Don’ts rules, relish training your dog and most significantly have tons of fun along the method!

Aging Gracefully:
Tips for Adopting Older Pets
By: Annie Tucker Morgan -

Certain things in life are surefire sources of joy, among them babies, just-baked cookies, beautiful flowers, rainbows, and puppies—that is, until you bring home an eight-week-old furball who chews up all your furniture, can’t sit still, and whimpers all night. Young dogs and cats may be adorable, but the constant attention and training they require can prove taxing for owners who are overextended, elderly, or inactive. If you’re certain that you want a canine or feline companion but wish you could bypass such challenges as animal-proofing your home, teaching obedience lessons, and struggling to keep up with your six-month-old German shepherd as he traverses your street at a dead sprint, you’re in luck—adopting an older pet could fulfill all your wishes.

Beauty Is Wasted on the Young
Animal shelters are filled with lovable, well-behaved older pets, but most prospective owners overlook them because they can’t resist the fuzzy puppies and kittens beckoning from their cages. However, senior animals come with a multitude of advantages; what you lose in years by adopting one, you gain in other areas.

Older animals have more obedience training and potty training under their collars. For example, mature dogs realize that no means no, so they won’t tear up your wood floors, your shoes, and your couch with their claws and teeth as readily as mischievous puppies will. And while cats of any age aren’t trained as rigorously as dogs are, older ones will certainly be long accustomed to using a litter box by the time they arrive at their adoptive home.

Older pets have had time to become socialized and are therefore more likely to get along with adults, children, and other house pets.

What you see is what you get—not only are older pets full-grown (which means you won’t end up with a seventy-pound standard poodle when you thought you were getting a toy version), but they’ve also settled into their temperament, so potential adoptive parents are able to discern quickly whether a certain animal’s personality is a good fit for their household.

While owning young, hyperactive dogs and cats can be a demanding, nerve-racking experience, older pets are a soothing presence and can actually reduce humans’ stress levels, lower blood pressure, alleviate physical pain, and boost immunity.

If you adopt an older dog, he or she will be far less physically needy than a puppy and will be more content to cuddle up with you in front of the TV, lie on the kitchen floor while you’re cooking dinner, and take a leisurely walk around your neighborhood instead of wanting to charge up a mountainside. With that said, don’t forget that exercise is mandatory for dogs of all ages, so you should consult your local shelter or veterinarian to determine how much daily activity the specific breed you select requires.

Though it seems counterintuitive, a senior adopted pet may demonstrate more loyalty to its new family than animals who have been part of the same household since their infancy. Because many older dogs and cats in animal shelters arrived there from abusive homes or were picked up as strays, they’re so grateful to their adoptive owners for giving them a second chance to live in a happy home that they never forget the favor.

Older Pets, New Considerations
As honorable as pet shelters are in theory, some of their practices are devastating to animal lovers—and fatal to the animals themselves. When certain shelters are over capacity, or when older dogs’ and cats’ chances of being adopted appear slim, the “senior citizens” of these organizations are the first to be euthanized, even if they’re in good health. So if you’re considering adopting an older animal, take into account the fact that you’ll not only be gaining a valuable addition to your family, you’ll also be supporting the idea of a no-kill nation and saving a life at the same time.

However, people who plan to adopt older pets should be cognizant that the process involves special considerations that reflect aging animals’ particular circumstances. First and foremost, always have a prospective pet undergo a full veterinary examination. If the vet discerns that the animal has a health problem, you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth it to you to move forward with the adoption and incur the expense of treating the condition.

Because senior animals sometimes spend years in a shelter before they join a family, they may be traumatized by that hectic, cramped environment and be especially sensitive during the weeks (or even months) following their transition into their new home. Symptoms of this stress may include disorientation, loss of house-training habits, or reluctance to interact. Cats in particular may resist human contact by hiding behind furniture or under beds for long periods of time. No matter how your animal reacts to your household, though, realize that any troubling responses are merely temporary; again, the advantage of acquiring an older pet is that he or she already possesses the building blocks of good training, and those habits will reemerge in time.

For adopted older cats in particular, the single most important step to help them acclimate to their new surroundings is to make them aware of where their litter box and their food and water bowls are. Once you’re certain that your new cat is oriented properly, remain hands-off until he or she comes to you. If you have children, be especially vigilant about restricting their contact with the cat until the animal is more comfortable with your family.

Cats may not actually have nine lives, but they do enjoy a long life span—sixteen years on average, though many feisty felines live into their twenties—so any type of older cat you choose to adopt is a safe bet in terms of your relationship’s longevity. Dogs’ life spans, on the other hand, vary widely from breed to breed; in general, large dogs live shorter lives, while small dogs, like fox terriers, can live as long as fourteen or fifteen years. Therefore, when you’re pondering your canine adoption choices, read up on the average life span of any breed you’re thinking about choosing, and make your decision based not primarily on looks, but on how much time you anticipate being able to spend with your new companion.

Older and Wiser
Adopting an older cat or dog can give both the owner and the animal a new lease on life. As you and your eight-year-old mutt take your serene sunset stroll past your neighbors’ houses each night, you’ll see them inside, sweating and cursing as they mop the eighth puddle of puppy pee of the day off their kitchen floor or attempt to reupholster the frayed armchair that their kitten unraveled. You might not have quite as many years with your furry friend as the owners of newborn pets do, but the depth of the bond you’ll develop with your older adopted animal and the adventures you’ll share are certain to make up for lost time.

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