There are few things we can count on in life. According to Benjamin Franklin there are death and taxes. But I tend to see life differently. I like to believe that we can count on the beautiful mystery and loving acceptance of life. Why? Because every day brings a new opportunity... But exactly what it will bring is a beautiful mystery. And you have to express loving acceptance of what life gives you, otherwise it can be a struggle… This is particularly true when we fight the ‘natural course’ of things - like aging. You know who exudes this way of living life? Senior pets. They are amazing. They embrace the day they’ve been given, they lovingly express gratitude for their humans, and they graciously accept that with age comes a bit more fragility.

The Mindset Of A Senior Pet

As a professional photographer, I’ve captured the images of a lot of animals. When I receive a request from a pet parent to take photos of their senior dog I am always honored. A person who shares their life with an older dog is my kind of people. And a senior dog is my kind of pup. The senior pet’s mindset is something to behold… A senior pet will move your heart and humble your soul. Here are some of the attributes that make them so special.

Prioritize Love

Yes, it’s true, senior pets are loving. They exude a sweet calmness while also demonstrating a sort of wisdom about life - their gentle tail wags help express their soft, kind-hearted nature. But, what you don’t understand until you have a senior animal in your life is how much you will prioritize their love. An aging furry best friend is a daily reminder that the simplest things in life - like a snuggle, a wet kiss on the cheek, a soft stroke of their grey muzzle - are the most important. Sharing your life with an aging pet brings about an awareness of the depths of the love you have for your pet. Just when you think you’ve loved with all of your heart - you find another layer of love. The same is true for how your senior pet feels about you.

DEEP APPRECIATION

When you look at a senior pet’s graying face, and they look up at you - whether they have good eyesight or not - you can feel their deep appreciation for every big and small thing you do for them. Whether you carry your older dog from spot-to-spot, wipe their face off after eating, or gently massage their aching hips, they show immense gratitude for the loving kindness that they are shown. This is particularly true in cases of adopted senior animals. Senior animals given away through no fault of their own have to decide to trust all over again - after experiencing the pain and grief of being relinquished. That’s why it’s an immense blessing to earn the trust and appreciation of an adopted senior animal.

Fact: Only 25% of senior pets in shelters are adopted… That’s a heart wrenchingly sad statistic (source). Consider a senior animal adoption when you are looking for your next pet.

Wisdom

A senior animal has been around the block. Barked at a lot of mail personnel. Sniffed their fair share of other pet’s rumps. In a nutshell, they’ve lived life. And just like their senior human counterparts, an older animal develops wisdom from their experiences. Personally, I think their developed wisdom is what makes them so very grateful and loving as they get on in years. Unlike what used to be conventional thought, it’s now well known that animals do have memory. Older animals have seen and done enough to develop gratitude-based wisdom, and in the process have become somewhat of experts in dealing with and adapting to the complexities of life. What a unique gift. By sharing our lives with senior pets we develop new levels of wisdom and from this we begin to display a much deeper level of patience… Of acceptance.

Senior Pets Are Like A Fine Wine

Love, appreciation, and wisdom are all attributes that we, as humans, strive for in our lives. That’s the beauty of raising an animal all the way into old age - we get that chance. And along the way, we develop a deep sense of empathy. Not just for our aging animals, but also for (surprise, surprise) ourselves. And that’s a gift that absolutely no amount of money can buy. Therapy wrapped up in a furry body, that’s what animals are!

I tend to akin senior pets to a fine wine. Wine, particularly red varietals, tastes better with age due to a complex chemical reaction. While aging wine relies on sugars, acids, and phenolic compounds, a senior pet effuses love, appreciation, and wisdom to age to perfection. Whether your older pet is an animal you’ve had for a decade or more, or one that you just recently adopted, the beauty of a senior pet is that they will always be devoted to you.

With a beloved pet, we don't need a unified language to speak. We can read their thoughts with their eyes. And when they lose their eyesight due to old age, we can read their thoughts through their touch. Your pet can read you too, whether using vision or their special sixth-sense. No words are ever spoken, but yet we speak a lifetime of words to one another.

Pets waste no time worrying about tomorrow. That’s why senior pets are always in the now, loving us with all their might.

And why we must be there, loving our senior pets with all of our hearts.

In Honor of Adopt A Senior Pet Month

This article was written from the heart in honor of Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Domesticated animals rely on us for their lifeline. That’s why it’s so very important to consider the lifesaving measure of adopting a senior pet. An aging pet left in a shelter is much more apt to develop clinical depression. I can’t imagine a worse fate than abandonment for an animal that has devoted their entire life to loving humans. A forever home for a senior pet is the gift that we can give to an old dog or an aging cat… Or both.

Life is precious, so share yours with a senior pet.