Anyone who has cared for an animal will tell you it’s one of the most rewarding experiences ever, although challenging at times. The luckiest pet parents get the chance to adopt their animal when they’re young, which makes room for as many years of fun as possible.
But the bravest animal lovers adopt senior pets. They might come with health complications, or other issues, but they have an unbelievable capacity to love. The sad truth is that elderly pets are too often looked over in the crowded shelters across the United States. Adriene Buisch is not one to look the other way when she sees an animal in need, no matter their age.
Adriene Buisch has loved animals her entire life. As a former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader, she works as a marketing coordinator at Charm City Veterinary Hospital. She has met many animals through her work, and has also witnessed sad stories unfold.
Adriene Nicole Facebook
It happens all the time. People find out they’re moving and they leave their cat or dog behind, abandoning them without a contingency plan. Hopefully, these poor animals find their way to a kind stranger, or an animal shelter for help.
Howl of a Dog Youtube
Some find homes and some do not. Over a million cats and dogs never make it out of the shelter every year. The vast majority of them are not kittens or puppies, but elderly animals who no one wants to adopt.
Adriene was on the lookout for a second cat. Both her and her boyfriend knew they didn’t want a kitten. Their six-year-old tabby at home was so wonderful, they knew how rewarding an adult cat could be.
Plus, Adriene knew how hard it was for older pets to get adopted. So, she was hoping the right cat in need of a home would come her way. One day while she was on Facebook, she read a post that brought tears to her eyes.
An older, somewhat gruff orange kitty caught her eye as she read his story. His name was Tigger and he had been abandoned by his previous owner at a local veterinary hospital. When she read on, she couldn’t believe what she saw.
This cat was 20-years-old. That was the bit of information that caused Buisch and her boyfriend to look at each other an immediately decide, “We’re taking that cat.” That night they made their way to the vet hospital to meet Tigger.
It was love at first sight for Adriene and Tigger. As he lay in her backseat on the way home, she saw how thin he was and couldn’t help but notice his matted fur. It broke her heart that this cat has suffered so much.
When they got home, it was obvious Tigger was pleased with his new family. Adriene remembers he cuddled right up with pillows and blankets like he never forgot what it was like to have them. He began getting healthier, but he had one odd behavior.
Tigger wouldn’t stop drinking water. Past normal hydration, he would drink about a gallon a day. This worried Adriene, so she took him in for blood work to make sure everything was okay. Luckily she went in when she did.
Results showed that Tigger’s kidneys were failing. Adding to his health concerns, Adriene found a tumor the size of a golf ball on him. His age and health issues made her think he might not be around too much longer. It gave Adriene an idea.
She planned to help Tigger cross a few items off his bucket list. He may not have a ton of life left, but she wanted to make sure he got to experience the best the world had to offer before he left it.
Of course, some of his favorite cat activities were easy to do. Like spending time with his cat brother and lounging as much as possible. But, there were a few more adventurous items on the list.
Adriene brought Tigger to the beach for the first time. For an animal known for its distaste for water, he was right at home by the seaside. Resting in the sand and sunning his fur made him content and relaxed.
Tigger celebrated a birthday with his new family complete with a “cake” made of his favorite food—chicken. Instead of turning 21 in a lonely shelter he got to do so in a warm and loving home surrounded by his family.
The adventures were great, but certainly Tigger found himself most fulfilled when he was in the arms of his mom, Adriene. They were inseparable. Adriene even took Tigger from their home in Maryland to visit her family in Florida.
She knew her beloved kitty was on borrowed time. That was clear when she adopted him. She was giving everything she had to the ailing cat in order to improve his life. Somewhere in the interim, he had stolen her heart.
About a year after he was adopted, Adriene noticed Tigger was walking strangely. She explains, “I picked him up and put him in my arms and he started his infamous purring…less than 30 seconds later our baby passed in peace.”
Adriene will always miss the orange tabby that gave and received so much love in the final year of his life. Instead of a cold shelter, or worse, he was able to rest his head on a loved one in his final moments.
Adriene has a clear message for animal lovers, “I hope his journey helps cat and pet lovers know how wonderful it is to not only adopt but to adopt older pets,” she explained “Witnessing the love and happiness of Tigger changed our lives.”
When it comes to showing your pets love, as Adriene knew well, the most effective method is often feeding them. With a one-track mind on their next meal, even the most standoffish pet can be won over.
YouTube / Animal lovers
To make sure they never run out of treats for their furry friends, many pet owners will stock up on every type of chow imaginable. As of late, however, a few independent folks are taking a different approach.
Recent years have seen a sharp uptick in people making their own pet food. Supporters provide a myriad of explanations as to why they got into it. They say it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and that it’s a great way to more closely bond with your animal.
YouTube / Pure Living For Life
Besides viral recipe blogs, chefs have published full-on cookbooks explicitly for the purpose of preparing pet fare. Odds are that many of these cooks don’t put as much effort into their own diet!
In The Vintage Kitchen Shop
But is this homemade gourmet kibble worth it? Pet owners can squabble all day long about whether or not it’s easier to just buy the store brand, but experts are introducing an additional point to the discussion.
Jennifer Larsen is a research veterinarian at UC Davis, where she’s taking a hard look at cat and dog nutrition. She and her team have closely examined over 100 popular pet food recipes, which have led to some strong conclusions.
Obviously, pet owners want nothing but the best for their companions. There’s no shame in embracing your inner cat fanatic. Still, Jennifer warns that many of these recipes are actually endangering felines.
In many cases, the recipe writers skew their concoctions based on what’s appetizing to humans. But even if your kitty licks her lips at your dinner, that doesn’t mean it’s a healthy option for her.
Reddit / Char10tti3
Evolutionarily, cats are hunters. They need the specific nutrients provided by fresh meat, or carefully designed pet food. Felines simply cannot adapt to other diets, even if there are no warning signs at first.
But rest assured, nutritional deficiencies will manifest themselves before long. Jennifer and her team have identified the full range of consequences, which run from annoying to potentially fatal.
For one thing, homemade cat food often contains fattier ingredients than animals are used to. They’ll certainly enjoy these meals – often meowing for seconds and thirds — but this diet can lead to severe obesity.
Bothell Pet Hospital
At the other end of the spectrum, cats are falling ill due to a lack of nutrients. Vegan diets lead to all kinds of health disorders, with the worst recipes including ingredients that are toxic to cats.
At the same time, Jennifer recognizes that she can’t persuade all pet owners to stop making their own cat food. But they should, at the very least, ensure that they follow certain guidelines.
South Boston Animal Hospital
It turns out that dogs aren’t the only ones who enjoy gnawing on a good bone! Bone meal serves as cats’ primary source of calcium. That’s a must for strong bones and healthy teeth.
Vegetables are acceptable in smaller quantities, though felines don’t really need them to stay healthy. Just made sure to avoid cabbage, brussels sprouts, and broccoli, as they cause bloating.
Many pet owners instinctively season their pets’ food the same way they’d prefer their own. But for cats, it’s better to leave the spice rack alone. Some common flavoring ingredients are pure poison to cats.
Chocolate Covered Memories
For instance, prominent fangs and a hypnotizing gaze aren’t the only traits that cats share with vampires. They also can’t tolerate garlic, so make sure not to ever put it in a kitty dish.
Jennifer wants pet owners to know that regulating a cat’s diet is complicated. You want to make sure they’re only biting into healthy foods. Otherwise, you could really be regretting your kitchen adventure.
Flickr / Tnarik Innael
She says that, ultimately, “Extensive training and expertise is necessary in order to fully understand the various aspects of this process.” So you’re probably best off leaving it to the experts and buying high-quality food from your local store.
While diet is certainly important, pet professionals have determined that there are other aspects of animal health that most of us are completely ignoring. After all, it’s not just about a cat or dog’s physical state.
Sara, a sweet-natured rescue dog, was proof enough of that. She loved her new human, enjoyed playing and going for walks, and was typically well-behaved… until her owner, Colleen, left the house. That’s when she started acting up.
In a haze of worry and fear, the poor dog would start barking endlessly, pant up a storm, pace around like a madwoman looking for her owner, and chew on the furniture. It wasn’t healthy.
See, due to Sara’s rough past, she suffered from a great amount of separation anxiety. It didn’t matter how long Colleen was gone, Sara would go into a frenzy. One time, she even rubbed her nose raw on the couch!
Of course, nobody wants to see their dog in any kind of pain (mental or physical), so Colleen tried everything she could to help her dog out. She got plenty of advice from other dog parents and started training and treatments.
She tried long walks, CBD oils, and crate training didn’t make a difference at all. Even prescription drugs for anxiety like Prozac didn’t put the pup’s mind at ease.
“It evolved into my having to be with her constantly, leaving her with someone else, or having to take her to doggie daycare whenever I left,” Colleen said. Luckily, she thought she finally found a solution to her pupper’s problems.
It was actually her cousin who came up with the idea. “Why don’t you try making some sort of dummy of yourself, so Sara thinks you’re always with her?” she suggested.
The plan sounded great… but then the dummy arrived. The creepy looking thing, Collen figured, wouldn’t fool her dog for a second.”My Sara would not fall for such simple deception!” she thought.
Still, she wanted to give the dummy a shot — anything to soothe her beloved dog’s anxiety. So she began making the dummy (nicknamed Dolly) look and smell more like herself by dressing it in her clothes.
Visuals were one thing. But dogs, Colleen knew, are all about smells. So, to make sure the dummy smelled as realistic as possible, she put Dolly in her bed. Those blankets and sheets were Smell City.
With Dolly looking and smelling the part, Colleen started placing it around the house. That way, Sara would constantly cross paths with the dummy, becoming more familiar with it.
The first place Dolly posted up? The bathroom. Colleen didn’t want it to be in a place Sara frequented because, well, if she figured out it was just a dummy, the plan kind of fell flat.
To her surprise, the plan worked! Just a glance at Dolly seemed to be enough to put Sara at ease, even for several hours. For the one of the first times ever, Colleen came home and found Sara sleeping on the couch, cool as a cucumber.
Then, one day, Colleen came home and couldn’t find Sara anywhere. She checked the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom… Finally, she opened the bathroom door and found Sara sleeping at Dolly’s feet. Something she’d never done before!
In a way, Colleen was right: Sara was too smart for the dummy. She didn’t think the uncanny thing was her mom. Still, those familiar smells coupled with a familiar, human-like object, gave the pooch comfort.
Even with Sara’s newfound comfort, Colleen didn’t plan on pressing her luck: long vacations were off the table. Still, she was elated with the results: “It has worked better than many other methods so far,” she said.
And, of course, Colleen didn’t use Dolly as an excuse to shirk mom duties. She and Sara still cuddle up on the couch and spend every minute possible together. They’re best buds, after all.
For dog owners who don’t want a dummy of themselves at home, a DIY therapeutic wrap is making its rounds on social media. It helps dogs chill out during a time of high stress or anxiety. To make it, all you need is a piece of fabric the length and width of a scarf.
Then, wrap it around your dog at their chest and their withers. If you are unfamiliar with the term “withers”, that just means at the base of the dog’s neck. It might seem like something intimidating to try, but the truth is that it’s a breeze!
The half-wrap makes them feel cozy and protected. This is the next best thing to having your arms around them. Imagine how secure your dog would feel being in your arms at all times. That’s exactly what the half-wrap does.
They aren’t just helpful. They can also be very stylish. Although using fabric scraps from home (ones that smell like you are a smart idea) or athletic bandages works just fine, you can also special order a half-wrap online.
Making a half-wrap shouldn’t take much time, but you could also just buy one for your best friend. Many people with nervous dogs (and cats, too) swear by the ThunderShirt when it comes to making sure their animals feel calm.
We normally think of small dogs as being the ones who get nervous, but every dog, no matter its size, can get a little anxious. When dogs get older, they can get confused. The half-wrap helps soothe them.
If you are nervous that trying a half-wrap on your own dog will be too much of a hassle, then you can always practice at home with a stuffed animal. They don’t squirm like your pup, but they’re much more patient with beginners.
Once you become a half-wrapping pro, getting your dog quickly swaddled and quickly comforted will be an absolute snap. It can even help calm down antisocial dogs during walks where they might encounter other dogs.
While most dogs might find being half-wrapped a little bit strange at first, they adjust it to very quickly! The key is to make it be a comforting and sweet activity you two share together, not something they associate with already feeling stress.
Keeping that in mind, the surefire way to half-wrap your dog successfully is to anticipate when he might be in stressful situations and to make sure he’s all bundled up tight before that stress or anxiety gets a chance to strike!