The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Blue, currently up for adoption at SARL. Courtesy photo.

Age isn’t just a number
Puppies and kittens or adult dogs and cats?

By Allie Ginwala

The saying “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number” doesn’t really hold up when you’re trying to find the best pet for you. Sure, baby animals are the stuff the cutest calendars are made of, but adult animals have a lot to offer new owners in terms of dependability and maturity. 

It takes time
Your lifestyle is perhaps the biggest factor to take into consideration when figuring out what age your pet should be. For example, demands on your time play a large role in whether you can care for a young animal. 
“We live in a society where there are more and more demands on our time and our leisure time is really at a premium,” said D.J. Bettencourt, director of development and community relations at Salem Animal Rescue League. “If one wants to get a kitten or puppy, they have to make sure they can be fairly flexible while getting the pet on their schedule.” 
If your daily tasks allow for the chance to stop home a few times a day, then having a puppy or kitten would fit well. For those who can’t come home during the work day, an adult pet has the advantage of letting you be a responsible pet owner with a much less intensive time demand.
Lifestyle adjustment
Older pets and younger pets differ greatly in their ability to adapt to a new lifestyle, as most older cats and dogs have their personalities already set. 
“The dog before you is the dog you’re most likely to get,” Bettencourt said. “You have to adjust your personality to them.” 
Getting a puppy or kitten, while it requires more time and effort, has the advantage of starting from the early developmental stage. Sure, you may have to work on potty training, chewing or scratching, but you may get a higher level of affection and loyalty if you have the pet from a young age. 
“Puppies are your chance to train responsibly and do whatever your lifestyle is,” Bettencourt said. “With puppies you have more chance to mold.”
Can’t we all just get along?
The age of the people in the home is another factor to take into account, especially if there are children. Most often finding a pet for a home with kids is done on an animal-by-animal basis, Bettencourt said. You may find that older pets are more forgiving and patient with children, but on the flip side a puppy or kitten could match the energy of the child, adapt to the environment faster, and become like a playmate.
While it’s important for children and pets to get along, if you want to maintain animal peace in the house make sure any current pets get along with a new one. Shelley Greenglass, shelter manager at Manchester Animal Shelter, said the shelter evaluates all of the cats and dogs they house, regardless of age, to see if they should be in a family with other cats, dogs or young kids. If it’s alright with the place you’re looking to get your new pet from, bring in your current pet for an introductory session to see how they interact.
Know what you’re getting into
Overall, Greenglass recommends that people educate themselves on which age and breed of pet would be best suited for their life. Take advantage of resources online and do research to make an informed decision. Both the Salem Animal Rescue League and Manchester Animal Shelter house cats, dogs, kittens and puppies and have adoption counselors who work with potential adopters looking to bring home a new pet.
“Our primary mission with respect to adoptions is we want to make sure we are finding the best caring possible for the adopter and the animal,” Bettencourt said. “We do not want to have a situation where the adopter has to come back to us if it didn’t work out.” 
Certain animals are going to have specific needs, which is why working with adoption counselors can be useful. They work closely with the animals and know which cats need to be in a single-pet home and which puppies prefer a quieter environment. 
A lot of people don’t know what age of animal they should get, Greenglass said, so it’s helpful to visit early on and get a feel for the animals. Bettencourt said that many people look online to check out animals they are interested in before planning a visit.
“There are a great number of people who come down to the shelter and say, ‘I’m thinking about adopting, I’m here to take a look at the animals you have,’ and that’s the first step in the decision-making process,” Bettencourt said. “Many times … they fall in love with somebody down here and the animal becomes part of their family.” 
As seen in the February 26, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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