A second chance at happiness for our golden oldies
In a perfect world, every senior pet should spend their golden years in a lush retirement home with a loving family. But senior pets end up at SPCA through no fault of their own, and in need of a second chance and an understanding family.
This is the story of our senior pets who needed a little more time to find the right family. A family who isn’t looking for a young puppy or kitten, but one who understands that while senior pets may not have as many years to live, they still have plenty of love to give.
“I knew when I saw her that I had to have her”
Fifteen-year-old Missy arrived at SPCA in November 2019 after her owner went into care and could no longer look after her.
After three months of waiting, her new mum Kathy walked into SPCA’s doors. “I had a 22-year-old cat who I had said goodbye to last year. When she went, I always said I would adopt another senior pet. When I saw Missy, I knew I had to have her,” Kathy says.
It only took two minutes and Kathy had fallen in love. Despite Missy’s age, Kathy had no concerns or reservations about adopting a senior pet. “I knew what an older cat was like and that they can be grumpy as anything,” Kathy laughs.
When Missy first came home, things didn’t go exactly as planned.
“Sharing a home with an eight-month-old puppy, Missy’s first reaction was to spend three days under the bed. Things improved very slowly, and at one point I rang SPCA to take her back. Tracey in the feline team told me to give her time, and I’m so pleased that I listened. Missy has really found her place here,” Kathy says.
Missy loves lying on the couch and sleeping against her canine brother on the bed. But there is one moment that Kathy will always remember. “It was the first time she gave my dog a kiss on the nose.”
Adopting a senior pet doesn’t have to be hard, Kathy says. “The only difference is she doesn’t know where her food is. It’s not on the floor as the dog would eat it, so I lift her and guide her to it. Missy also doesn’t know how to use the cat door, I’ve tied the cat flap up using sellotape,” Kathy laughs.
Kathy says if you haven’t adopted a senior pet before, you should consider it. “Don’t be scared, the young ones are more trouble than the old ones. Missy only wants a couple of things in life – food and cuddles – and then she’s happy. She doesn’t scratch up the couch or the furniture.”
“He’s just so adorable.”
Charlie The Unicorn arrived at SPCA in August 2019 with no history. He was missing a horn, and he was skinny and arthritic. All the SPCA team knew was that they wanted to give him a bright future.
Because of his condition and the amount of medication he needed, Charlie would need a very special home. That’s when his new mum Rebecca received a call from the SPCA.
“SPCA contacted me about an elderly goat who was very arthritic and on a lot of medication. As soon as I saw Charlie, I told my partner Nick that we would be adding another goat to the family,” Rebecca says.
“I wanted his retirement home to be living on a paddock and hanging with his best friends. We have four goats and three sheep, and he is best friends with all of them. Charlie’s very much a part of the sheep team,” Rebecca laughs.
Adopting a senior pet can come with some health problems and associated costs, and Rebecca takes various steps to ensure Charlie The Unicorn is happy.
“I give Charlie pain relief every second day and put it in his breakfast. Today I put it in broccoli. He also gets monthly injections. Charlie The Unicorn also needs to stay warm for his arthritis, and he lives in an insulated shed with all our animals,” she says.
It is completely worth it for Rebecca. “Charlie’s gained weight, his coat is shinier, and he’s just so much happier in himself,” she says.
“When I adopted Charlie The Unicorn, I had the realistic view that he’s not going to be with us together. But when the times comes, I know I will be sad to say goodbye. He’s just so adorable and I’ve fallen in love with him.”
"She completely changed me.”
Baby came to SPCA after her owners moved overseas and couldn’t take her with them. After months of waiting, her new mum Leanne laid eyes on Baby, a moment she describes as fate.
After saying goodbye to their dog Ajax, Leanne found it hard to deal with the emptiness in the home and wanted to adopt again.
Initially, Leanne wanted a smaller dog that was four or five years old, and easy to hold and handle. Her husband Jeremy suggested a younger puppy. But they met Baby, and the rest is history.
"The woman at SPCA showed us Baby, who was nine years old and a large mastiff, she was a lot bigger than we expected.”
“She said Baby was an older dog looking for a retirement home, and it just clicked. Baby completely changed me and my concept of an ideal dog. Why shouldn’t we be a retirement village for an older dog? We can give them love and care, and they are so deserving,” Leanne says.
They spent an hour with Baby and fell in love. “As we were about to leave, her face dropped. It was heart-wrenching. We asked, ‘how soon can we get her?'. It was instant love, and we wanted to take her home on the day.”
Baby is now known as ‘the horse of the home’. Integrating Baby into their lives was much easier than adopting a puppy and it only took two days for her to settle in, Leanne says.
“We invested time to connect with her and learn her personality. Older animals don’t demand a lot, they are well-trained, well-mannered, don’t need that much work and ready to go home.”
“I would recommend anyone thinking about getting a younger puppy, to consider an older dog. It was such an easy process and only took a weekend for her to find her place here,” Leanne says.
Leanne can’t think of just one favourite memory with Baby. “When I see her and when I look at her, she just fills me with overwhelming love and joy. She gives me that feeling every day, and we would definitely get an older dog again.”
"He’s my life now”
Volunteering at SPCA, Pat has always had animals in her life ever since she was a child. In October 2019 Charlie arrived at SPCA, and she was instantly drawn to him.
Charlie was 12 years old and his owner had recently passed away. Everything he had ever known was gone, and Pat wanted Charlie to feel love and joy again.
“I felt bad no one seemed to want him. Charlie stayed at the back of the cage the first time I went to see him, and the second time he ventured out,” Pat says.
Charlie’s now a huge part of Pat’s life. “He sits outside in my chairs at 11am while I drink my tea. He always jumps up and loves to put his head against mine. At 9.30pm I will ask, ‘Charlie are you coming to bed?’, and he comes into bed with me and stays there until morning,” Pat says.
“He’s my life now. He knows what I’m doing and knows what I say. He’s my companion, my top man, and I couldn’t be without him.”
Charlie is Pat’s pride and joy, and she is so glad she decided to adopt a senior pet and give them a second chance.
“By adopting an older pet, you are giving them love and a second home. They know, and they fill your life. And you realise it’s the best thing you’ve ever done.”