Sometimes here at the shelter, I often over hear people say they are just looking for puppies, or that a dog or cat is too old. Often, I see an older dog or cat that has been here a while and keeps getting passed over, even though he is a good animal. Folks tend to prefer the "new" animals - just like cars and everything else, but I'm telling you, there are great advantages to adopting a senior dog or cat!
People tend to think that older dogs and cats are at the SPCA because they are "bad". They think SOMETHING must be wrong with that animal. That is simply not true! Though it is hard for us pet lovers to conceive giving up our furry friends, there are lots of other reasons that good animals find themselves out of a home. People's lives change, and that is when an animal would find his way to the shelter. Dogs especially, being larger and more dependent on their people for care, can fall victim to a new work schedule, new babies, size restrictions in apartment communities, etc.
Now that we've established that it might not be the animal's fault that he is at the shelter, let me tell you the great thing about teaching an old dog new tricks - you don't have to! Many dogs I see here can sit, a few can shake hands and roll over, and one of them even played dead. Believe me, if they are performing these tricks under the pressure of living in a crate here at the SPCA, they can do even greater things when when they get home to you! Mature dogs are house broken, usually have "manners" and are generally more calm, cool, and collected than their puppy counterparts. Older cats are grateful to have a home and to be fed and warm. Older dogs are usually leash trained, ready to hang out with you instead of eating your shoes, and know what you want from them already. Senior cats can be great company for a lonely cat that couldn't keep up with a kitten, and are great options for those of us that aren't spring chickens ourselves and move at a little slower pace. These animals have been running with a human pack, and so they know the ropes.
Of course, make sure you consider the cost of a Senior and the adjustment that you and the animal must make. Many cats and dogs have habits, just like us, that are going to come with them to your house. Dogs can be trained at any age, and cats, well can they ever be trained? Patience and understanding are the key to making this transition easier. Make sure you take the time to get to know your new pet and make him feel welcome. Vet bills can be another consideration when adopting an older animal. We do check out the animals here at the SPCA, but make sure you visit your vet as well.
A final thought: YOU will be saving that dog or cat's life. Senior dogs and cats are often passed over for the cuter kits and pups, and are more likely to be put down. YOU might be the only hope that he has and YOU can give him the BEST years of his life, and he will do the same for you. The greatest reason of all is these animals will know that you saved them and will love you forever for it.