by Rebecca Stroud
& Diana Hockley
Enjoy this guest post from animal columnist Rebecca Stroud, and then a review of her book The Animal Advocate. At the end of this post you will find details on how to win an ebook copy of the book.
There’s something I find very disturbing: it seems that every time I look at pictures of shelter animals up for adoption, many of the featured dogs and cats are seniors.
While I can certainly understand dire circumstances that may require the relinquishment of any pet—such as the death or incapacitation of the owner—that’s about where my sympathy stops, especially when the animal in question is geriatric.
Excuses that run the gamut from “moving, can’t take pet” to “I want a young one” frustrate me to the point of palpitations because, in my opinion, that is exactly what they are: excuses, and flimsy ones at that. So allow me to make my case about the joys and benefits of bringing an older pet home.
For starters, there’s the obvious benefit of saving a life.
We all know the adorable appeal of babies. Coupled with a cute and cuddly appearance, their lively exuberance is hard to resist when compared to the sometimes sad reticence of an abandoned eleven-year-old. However, unless a shelter is totally no-kill, someone’s gotta go, and the elderly usually win first place in line for the fatal needle.
Yet I’ve seen firsthand undying gratitude beaming from the face of an old dog as he pranced out the door with his new family, knowing in the way only a creature with a sixth sense can know he’s been given a second chance.
On those occasions, I can’t tell you how proud I was of people who realized that although there might not be many years remaining for their new pet, there was an overflowing abundance of love left to share.
Naturally there will be a period of adjustment but, as a rule, an older pet settles in quickly as long as they are not relegated to the back yard or crated for hours on end (which no animal should be, anyway). A senior animal given up by its lifelong family wants nothing more than a loving permanent home where it feels safe and secure, never again to worry about being dumped or thrown out with the bath water.
That said, some might fear there is a sooner-rather-than-later death looming on the horizon. Well, I doubt I need to tell you that no matter when it happens, it’s still going to be one huge heartbreaking wallop. Be it a bouncing baby boy inexplicably stricken by disease or accident or a gray-muzzled old girl who’s basked in your sun her whole life, your grief will not be mitigated—whatever their age.
Bottom line, if you’re contemplating getting a dog or cat, I hope my words have put a thoughtful spin on the positives of adopting an aging animal.
Hey, I’m the first one to admit I’m a sucker for puppies. Yet as I myself get older, there’s something very good to be said about a pet who’s a lot less frantic, a lot more calm. Throw in those eternally grateful eyes and it’s a win-win. Don’t believe me? Visit your local shelter for living proof.
Comments or questions? Please send to RebeccaStroud[dot]aol.com with “The Animal Advocate” in the subject line.
The Animal Advocate by Rebecca Stroud
Review by Diana Hockley
Poignant and to the point. Compiled from her previously-published newspaper columns, Rebecca Stroud’s essays are written in a blunt, down-to-earth style and she pulls no punches.
At times this book moved me to tears. Unfortunately, Rebecca Stroud is one of the people who will never make the headlines unless she irons out an animal abuser with a baseball bat (and for that I would never blame her!). The good people of this world are ignored in favor of sensationalism, usually involving so-called celebrities or the unsavory antics of politicians or criminals… not that there’s much difference between any of them.
This is a moving, practical book about the responsibilities of those who have animals. Judges and magistrates in Australia, as in the USA and UK—and every country in the world as far as I can see—don’t seem to understand or care that the abuse of an animal is an appalling betrayal of a helpless creature. Good people have fought for years and many have dedicated their lives to ensuring that penalties are put into place to punish the abusers, but this never happens. Time and again, these people get away with their crimes, leaving the Rebecca Strouds of this world to pick up the pieces.
I highly recommend this book and hope that somehow the contents will reach those who need them most.
Good for you, Ms Stroud.
To enter to win an ebook copy of The Animal Advocate, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Advocate,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 23, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
You can use this link to purchase the book:
Check out more animal related articles and stories in our Pet section.