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Susie and Simon’s Top 10 Tips For Helping Seniors

Susie and Simon’s Top 10 Tips For Helping Seniors

Imagine the willpower it takes to manage the Susie's Senior Dogs page and not bring home every sweet senior in need of a loving home! A few weeks ago, Erin and Brandon gave in and adopted a sibling for Susie. Meet 15 year old Simon! 

Susie and Simon are thankful to their parents for expanding their loving family, but understand that not everyone is able to do the same. They're here to give us their top ten tips for helping seniors this holiday season (and any time of year!!!), whether you're able to bring a pet home or not.

TIP #1: ONE HOUR IS ALL IT TAKES. 

The hours in our week may fill up fast, but one hour is all it takes to make a big difference in the lives of dogs and cats in the shelter. If you are unable to adopt a pet of your own, volunteering one hour of your time to the local shelter will help you to get your doggy and kitty fix. In just one hour, you can make a large impact on the lives of the animals and can be of great assistance to the people in the shelter working tirelessly to find them forever homes. 

TIP #2: EXERCISE WITH DOGS BURNS MORE CALORIES.

Ok, maybe not. But if you're going for a walk anyway, why not take a shelter dog with you? Volunteering your time to help walk shelter dogs will ensure that more of them get outside and exercise, and will give you some company along the way. There can be many dogs in a shelter at one time and there aren't always enough volunteers to help walk them. All dogs need exercise (even seniors!) and a long run or a brisk walk with you might be just what they need.

TIP #3: ROAD TRIPS ARE BETTER WITH FRIENDS.

Many shelters need help transporting their animals. Sometimes they are coming from out of state, other times they need help travelling distances that are not far away at all. If you have a car, you can volunteer to help drive dogs from their kennels to adoption events or other locations in need. How nice would it feel to put your four wheels to good use?

TIP #4: ANIMALS NEVER TIRE OF YOUR JOKES.

Waiting in the shelter can get lonely sometimes. You can make a dog or cat's day by spending some one-on-one time bonding with a furry friend. Read them a book, play with their toys, chat, joke, or just be there as a friendly face looking to provide company and comfort to a sweet animal in need. Shelters often allow young children to read books to the animals, as it has been said to reduce anxiety in both the animal and the child.

TIP #5: DINNER DATES ARE APPRECIATED.

It's a hard job to remember the feeding requirements of every dog and cat in the shelter. Once the scent of food hits their nose, all animals are ready to eat at once! But not everyone eats the same type of food or even the same amounts. Volunteering your time to help with feeding schedules can be a big help in the shelter and can be rewarding for you if you take pleasure in watching a bowl of food be licked clean!  

TIP #6: NOTHING'S BETTER THAN THE SMELL OF CLEAN SHEETS.

Volunteering your time at the shelter doesn't have to mean spending hours with the animals. Offering to pick up and drop off dirty and clean towels and sheets can be a huge help for the shelter. Most places rely on donations of sheets and towels for bedding and drying after baths, and they go through them fast! Volunteering your time to help with laundry can be a big help.

TIP #7: A CLEAN HOME IS A SAFE HOME.

It's not a pretty job, but animal cages and kennels need to be cleaned! You can lend a hand and give the shelter workers a break from scooping poop by offering to do a little cleaning from time to time. It's important that the dogs and cats in the shelter have a clean and safe environment to live in before being adopted, as this prevents many potential health problems.


TIP #8: SENIORS LIKE TOYS, TOO!

All animals need environmental enrichment and a chance to play. Buy or make some fun toys for the animals in your local shelter and drop them off for play. You might even decide to volunteer some more of your time to play with them, too. Be sure to check that the shelter accepts homemade toys before you begin. 


TIP #9: A WEEKEND AWAY MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

If you're not in the right frame of mind to take on a dog full-time, fostering might be your perfect solution. Fostering a dog means bringing them home with your for a short period of time. Maybe it's over the holidays? Fostering an animal and giving them a few days away from the shelter can be great for them, and for you. And who knows, you might fall in love and decide you need them to stay with you forever!


TIP #10: YOU'LL NEVER FEEL LOVE LIKE THAT OF A SENIOR. 

The final tip? Adopt, don't shop! Look for the dogs and cats that are 3 years + and help them to live a happy, fulfilled life in a forever home. So many seniors end up at the shelter for reasons beyond their control - a death, a divorce, a run in with money - and they all deserve the right to be looked at as "new dogs" who are ready for a second chance at finding a family. Adopt a senior today.

DO YOU HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT VOLUNTEERING?

The following story has been provided by Susie's Senior Dogs. It first appeared on their Facebook Page on July 11, 2014. Click here for the original posting.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Volunteers are heroes. Many volunteers put in full-time hours, yet they are still considered "volunteers" as their time is free and they do not get paid. They do it because they want to do it. The following story is from a volunteer at a high-intake city shelter. To avoid harsh comments and to keep our focus on the importance of volunteering rather than the politics of the shelter system, we have both decided to keep her story anonymous.

An important difference to be aware of between a public, open admission shelter and a private "no-kill" shelter is that the public shelter is required to take in every animal (strays, owner surrenders, etc.) no matter what and a private "no kill" shelter has the option to turn animals away if they are too full. No-kill shelters may not be euthanizing animals, but they have the option to house homeless animals for however long it takes them to find a home. A public city shelter that has, say, only 50 kennels yet hundreds of animals pouring in each week, does not have the option to say "no" in the situation. The problem is deeper than just the shelter.

This amazingly dedicated volunteer wrote, "Hi, my name is [.....] and I work as a full time advertising sales executive. I am married to the love of my life and am a proud mama to our rescue dog. I am also a dedicated volunteer at a high kill inner city shelter. The girl pictured is my best friend, who like a lot of people, comes from a family who always bought their dogs and had never considered adoption until she learned about how many great dogs there are in shelters.

When Susie recently asked me to share my thoughts on volunteering, she asked that I open up about the good, the bad, and the ugly...but, most importantly, what keeps me going.

I can attest that volunteering at an open admission, inner city shelter takes its toll. The first thing I usually notice is the smell, which lingers in your nose long after you've left the shelter. Then there's the noise - the harrowing sounds of dogs begging, crying, and pleading for help. Then there's 12PM: The time everyday at which dogs you've fallen in love with are euthanized because they got sick with kennel cough, an all too common but highly treatable doggie cold.

I'm not going to say that volunteering at a place like this is easy. Because it's not. It keeps me up at night and haunts me during the day. But what other choice do I have? The emotions of volunteering at a place like this pale in comparison to the pain that would ensue if I looked the other way. I simply cannot and will not pretend that these dogs don't need me.

And that is precisely what keeps me going back. The dogs. It will always be about the dogs. The 6 month old puppy who was surrendered because he has too much energy. The 8 year old family dog who is trembling in my arms after her devastated owners were forced to give her up because of housing bans. The 6 year old 'throw away mama' who was used solely as a breeding machine her entire life. The dogs who spend 23 hours a day locked inside small kennels with only their confused and frantic thoughts.

To help demystify what volunteering at a high-kill shelter is like (note that all experiences vary and there are hundreds of no-kill rescues who also need help), I'll share exactly what I do at the shelter. I walk dogs, clean their kennels, and make sure they have fresh water. For 15 minutes, the duration of each individual walk, I give my heart and sole and undivided attention to the dog in my care. I've been told that dogs live in the moment, so I like to think that the smell of fresh grass invigorates [Ryan]. I imagine that the warm sun on [Buddy's] back reminds him that there is good in life. And I'm hopeful that the sights and sounds of people laughing in the park allow [Mabel] to forget - even if just for 15 minutes - that she is a homeless animal in a notorious high kill shelter.

With all that said, I guarantee that wherever you live, there is also a shelter or rescue in need. Go walk dogs. Offer to do laundry (shelters & rescues have mountains of dirty laundry). Clean kennels. Fill up water bowls. Fundraise. Advocate. If you have been thinking about volunteering, there is no better time than right now. Everyone has it in them to make a difference; all it takes is a desire to help.

'I am only one. But still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I can not do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.'

In addition to the above quote, my other favorite one that keeps me going is as follows: 'If not me, then who? If not now, then when?'"

Posted in: Animal Kingdom   Make A Difference   

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