All adoptions are wonderful, but we have always had a soft spot for senior adoptions. Yes, puppies and kittens can be irresistible, but adult animals are better suited to our lifestyles, as they are calm, well-mannered, and less destructive. Seniors, however, are often overlooked and can languish in shelters for months. It’s no wonder they become increasingly more depressed and withdrawn over time, further decreasing their chances of finding a forever home.
As challenging as it is for a senior animal, it can be downright traumatic for a geriatric dog or cat. Sadly, these animals are often surrendered during times of crisis, such as when an owner dies or moves into a nursing home. They arrive at shelters fragile and scared, mourning the loss of their families and routines, and often face serious and chronic health problems of their own, daunting even the most open-minded of adopters. Their greatest hurdle, though, is one that many understand but prefer not to discuss. Time with geriatric animals is short and most people are unwilling to subject themselves to the emotional heartache and wretched grief that often lurks around the corner.
Earlier this summer, BARCS Animal Shelter issued an urgent plea on its Facebook page for a hospice adopter or rescue, stating: “Sadly, 15-year-old bonded pair Max and Ginger’s owner passed away.” In full disclosure, BARCS revealed the litany of medical problems the cats faced: “Max has many small masses in both ears and jaw. He is missing many teeth, has advanced dental disease, as well as a grade II/VI heart murmur. Max is underweight with diffuse muscle wasting. Recent blood work and urinalysis show he has kidney disease.” Ginger faced similar problems and was hyperthyroid as well.
“We are in search of a miracle,” BARCS admitted, and so were we.
The post went viral, and luckily, Max and Ginger were adopted only a few hours later. As we scrolled the post to read the update, we saw the familiar face of our very own Treasurer Genny, who posted a photo of herself with Max and Ginger with the comment, “BARCS Animal Shelter – Thank you for the sweetest cats ever!”
Over the years Genny and her husband Brian have fostered both neonatal kittens and geriatric animals and were already sharing their home with 4 dogs and 3 cats when Ginger and Max joined their family. Sadly, Max passed away only two weeks later from kidney failure, but Ginger has settled in, is affectionate and sweet, and has her own bedroom when she needs time alone.
While these cases tug at our heartstrings, it is extraordinarily difficult to adopt hospice animals, as it demands a level of selflessness and emotional fortitude that few of us have. We can all do our part, however, by supporting shelters and rescue organizations that help these animals, such as The Mr. Mo Project, co-founded by Softies Chris & Mariesa Hughes, and Senior Dog Sanctuary, whose visionary founder, Val Lynch, recently passed away.
There is no greater gift one can give an animal in their final days and we salute our friend and colleague Genny, who always has the courage of her convictions and steps up to the plate to adopt the ones who need her most.