As you contemplate retirement after years of employment and routine, you may find yourself looking for new ways to spend your time.

We all know the health benefits of having a purring kitty cat in your lap, petting a dog and the overall enjoyment and companionship that come with owning a pet.

Happiness is the key to a good life, and pets make us happy. Having a pet is also a sure way to combat loneliness and gain some unconditional love. Pets get lonely just as people do, so adopting a new furry friend is a win-win situation.

If you are in your retirement years, a new puppy may not be the best option as you may not want to deal with the potty training, chewing and other challenges a new puppy brings. Large-breed puppies will get big fast and may be too much to handle when they are still in the puppy years.

Consider a senior dog or cat. Pets are often considered seniors when they are 7 to 9 years old, yet small breeds/mixes can live for 16 to 20 years. Larger dogs have a shorter lifespan but still can reach the age of 16 with good health and proper care. Proper care means good nutrition, proper maintenance, including monthly flea and heartworm prevention, and yearly visits to the veterinarian.

Smaller animals may be the best for seniors, as most people want to be able to pick up their pet when necessary. That could be a problem if your pet weighs 70 pounds, or even 40 pounds with some people.

If you do prefer a large breed, know that large-breed senior dogs tend to have more of a couch potato temperament and less of the energy that young dogs have, making them easier to handle. Adopting an older pet also means the pet will have a lifespan that will match the human senior’s lifestyle more closely.

The downside of seniors having pets is the concern the senior might have about becoming unable to care for the animal. Make sure you have a firm plan in place if the time should come that you cannot take care of your pet, for any reason, during your life or after your death. It is important to have the peace of mind that your pets will be loved and cared for when you are no longer able to do so.

Senior pets still have a lot of life and love in them, so if you are looking for someone to spend your golden years with, consider adopting a senior pet.

EVENTS

  • AUG. 9: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Neighborhood Pet Adoption, sponsored by the LA/SPCA at Jefferson Feed’s Neighborhood Pet Market, 309 N. Carrollton Ave. A variety of shapes, colors and sizes of four-legged friends eager to find a new home will be available for adoption. Call 368-5191 or visit la-spca.org .

Aug. 9: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Foundation Gallery’s Dirty Linen show, Beastly Delights by Marigny artist Jane R. Talton, 1109 Royal St. 25 percent of gallery profit from Beastly Delights will go to Animal Rescue New Orleans. For more information, email brandsbyrand@aol.com.

Aug. 9: 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Critter Cinema, sponsored by the LA/SPCA at the Louisiana SPCA, located at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd. Great fun for animal-loving, pizza-eating, movie-watching kids! For kids ages 5-10; $30 per child. Preregistration is required. Call 368-5191, ext. 207, or email erica@la-spca.org. For more information, visit la-spca.org/crittercinema.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, send to molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois@jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, send to cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com, www.animalrescueneworleans.org or call its recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.