It is always time to celebrate senior pets, but November is National Senior Pet Month, and animal welfare groups stress the importance of acknowledging, embracing, and truly celebrating our mature pets. As Doris Day explains, “Puppies are wonderful…romping and playing, tearing up things, chewing on furniture. Then they bond with you, and you learn that they are capable of giving unconditional love. No matter what happens, they are always there for you, through joy and sorrow, sickness and health, loneliness and despair. And when the years have taken their toll and they can no longer romp and play, they continue to give you all the love in their hearts…they deserve every bit of love and care that we can offer, for they have given their all to us Old dogs are grateful, devoted, and very faithful, and have earned our respect.”

Too often, older pets are viewed as disposable due to medical challenges, changing family situations, or simply because they’re not as much fun as they once were. There’s nothing sadder than senior pets who spend years with a family, and then find themselves homeless or in shelters, frightened and confused, where they are usually passed over by potential adopters who want a younger dog. The truth is that older dogs often have the perfect traits that people are looking for—they are quiet, calm, housebroken, and affectionate. They are true treasures!

A GRAND OLD MAN by Jeri Chrysong

My friend, I remember our earlier walks when you, in your youth, strained at the leash. I marveled at how a creature could walk so powerfully while simultaneously being choked to death by his collar. Today we walk together in the silence of great companions, my pace slower now to match your own, the leash of long ago abandoned. Your playful antics as a pup made me laugh. Your exuberant diligence as a watchdog in your middle years comforted me because I knew you would hear and alert me to every sound. I slept peacefully for many years. The realization that you have aged more quickly than I puzzles me..I am still middle-aged, yet you’ve entered your golden years without fanfare or much notice. You are a grand old man, and you are my best friend. Now, old boy, it’s your turn to lie in the sun and relax. Let me take watchful care of you and tend to your needs. Fear not that you have lost your usefulness, for when you look at me, still in trust and undeserved adoration, I find unconditional love and I am reminded to be a better person.

If you are blessed to have an older dog in your family, there are things that you can do to make life a little easier for your aging best friend:

  • Slippery hardwood floors can be difficult to navigate for aging pets. Non-slip rugs can ensure your pet has better traction when venturing around the house.
  • If your senior companion is losing her eyesight, it is important to keep clutter off the floors. Make sure there are clear pathways from your pet’s lounging spots to her food and water dishes. Keep her toys in the same place so they are easier to find.
  • Chances are, your older dog has some degree of joint pain. Make sure he has an extra comfortable place to rest those achy joints.
  • If your dog has trouble jumping into the car or up into his favorite chair, a ramp is an easy solution.
  • If you are not privileged to have an older dog in your own family, reach out to a lonely senior dog and make life better for him. Perhaps a neighbor or friend’s dog could use a little attention, or visit your local shelter, and you will find needy dogs who will appreciate any bit of attention that you offer them. As they share their beauty, dignity, and character with you, you will realize that old dogs are indeed the best dogs.

He is your friend, your partner, your defender—your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.