Debbie and Wally Majors of Delray Beach adopted Lily in 2018, when the poodle was about 10. Lily died in 2020. ’We knew that she had had a hard life, but we wanted to make her senior years the best we could,’ Debbie Majors said. Photo provided
By Arden Moore
I just realized that four of our pets would qualify for Medicare if they were humans. Where did the years go?
Kona, my terrier mix, and Casey, my orange tabby, are both 9. We are guessing that our black-and-white cat, Baxter, whom we rescued from the streets, is about 12, and topping the age chart is our 19-year-old black cat, Mikey. Our youngsters are 4 years old: Emma, a poodle-Chihuahua mix, and Rusty, another orange tabby.
It seems like yesterday that Kona was a frisky youngster who loved marathon ball-fetching sessions. The brown markings on her face have faded to white and she is now content to end the fetch game after retrieving five balls. I recently found a 7-year-old Facebook video clip of Mikey happily stalking and pouncing on a feather wand toy. Now, he much prefers napping by the sunny window on his orthopedic bed.
The graying of America is not limited to people. One out of every three cats and dogs is 7 years or older. That equates to senior citizenship status. Fittingly, November is a month noted for gratitude with the celebration of Thanksgiving. It is also designated as National Senior Pet Month.
Debbie and Wally Majors, of Delray Beach, weren’t planning to adopt a senior dog, but they are glad that they did. They now have wonderful memories centered on a rescued poodle named Lily.
“She was in bad shape with only one tooth, a dislocated hip and her hearing and sight nearly gone when we adopted her in 2018,” says Debbie. “We were guessing that she was about 10 or 11 at the time. Lily was so kind and gentle and such a joy. We knew that she had had a hard life, but we wanted to make her senior years the best we could.”
Lily died in 2020, but every day the couple remembers the impact she made in their lives. At the two-year adoption date, the Majorses treated Lily to a celebration that included pupcakes. Lily happily sported a party hat.
“We tried to make up for all she had been through,” says Debbie. “Lily seemed to give us love every second. She was such a wonderful dog.”
The Majors household today includes a pair of seniors: Boone, an 11-year-old labradoodle, and Tequila, an 11-year-old cat. The couple also has a 5-year-old labradoodle named Cassidy.
“I have had puppies. Yes, they are cute, but they are also a lot of work,” says Debbie. “Dogs in their senior years are really the best.”
The staffers at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach agree. They encourage the adoption of senior dogs and cats at their center through a program called the Grey Whisker Club.
“Senior pets make the best pets!” says Kelsey Otocki, Peggy Adams spokesperson. “Research shows that having a pet helps people lead healthier lives and the benefits are many: companionship, lowered blood pressure, stress relief, sense of purpose and responsibility.”
Animals up for adoption in the Grey Whisker Club are 7 years and older. By adopting a senior pet, you receive a lot of perks that include:
• 50% off the adoption fee
• Starter bag of food courtesy of Hill’s Pet Nutrition
• 30 days of free pet insurance with MetLife
• Complimentary spay/neuter and microchipping, plus ensuring the adopted senior is updated on all age-appropriate vaccines
• A comprehensive senior exam that includes bloodwork and dental evaluation is conducted prior to adoption.
More information on the Grey Whisker Club can be found at www.peggyadams.org/what-we-do/grey-whisker-club-benefits.
Jill Merjeski, founder of the award-winning Jill’s Next Door Dog Walking and Pet Services (www.jillsnextdoor.com), based in Highland Beach, does a high percentage of her business catering to senior pets.
“Although we always keep a keen eye on all of our clients’ pets’ health, we pay close attention to senior pets,” says Merjeski. “For senior pets, we perform a house check to make sure that their beds, food and water are easily accessible for them and that the home temperature is comfortable for them.”
Merjeski also customizes play time for senior pets.
“On walks with older dogs, we may walk slower and take more time and maybe include backyard time in a secure, fenced-in yard to customize the visit,” she says. “For older cats, we may include wand toys that we move more slowly and at ground level to be mindful of the senior cat’s mobility.”
Her pet-sitting service also offers Canine Aqua Fitness, which enables safe mobility exercises for senior dogs struggling with arthritis.
Merjeski shares her home with 5-year-old cats named Jules and Izzy, but also fosters elderly cats from All About the Cats Animal Rescue (www.allaboutthecatsrescue.org).
“We absolutely love our senior pet clients,” she says, adding with a laugh, “They also don’t seem to get in trouble as much as their kitten or puppy counterparts.”
Got a senior pet? Or looking to adopt an older dog or cat? You can make their senior years truly golden ones.
Arden Moore is an author, speaker and master certified pet first-aid instructor. She hosts a radio show, Arden Moore’s Four Legged Life (www.fourleggedlife.com), and the weekly Oh Behave! podcast on PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more by visiting www.ardenmoore.com.
Enroll your dog in a national study on aging
What are the keys to a healthy, long life in our dogs? That’s the challenge facing leaders of the Dog Aging Project. This is a long-term, comprehensive canine science health study that includes veterinarians, researchers, volunteers and pet parents. The goal is to better understand how genes, lifestyle and the environment affect aging in dogs and future generations of dogs.
And you’re invited to participate by enrolling information about your dog. The project welcomes dogs of all ages, breeds and health conditions. You must have a good idea of your dog’s actual age.
Learn more at https://dogagingproject.org.