November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. All too often, senior pets are surrendered to shelters once their age starts to show or their health begins to decline and they become more “work.” But despite getting gray in the muzzle and a little less active, seniors still have a lot of love to give and deserve to live out their golden years in the comfort of a loving home.

As they say, age is just a number, right? The label “senior” does not mean old and decrepit. Most senior pets are actually just middle-aged and have lots of pep in their step to provide endless hours of companionship and joy. My Shih Tzu, Bailee, turned 13 this year, and even though he has lost most of his hearing, he still loves to play fetch, gets frisky in the cool weather and runs zoomies around the house from time to time.

Many area shelters and rescues offer special adoptions for seniors, called “fospice” adoptions, where an elderly animal is placed in a foster/hospice home and the organization provides medical care, while the fospice family provides a loving environment for the rest of the pet’s life.

While dogs and cats are often considered seniors when they reach 7 to 9 years of age, small breeds can live for 16 to 20 years. Larger dogs have a shorter lifespan, but some live well into their teens with good health and proper care. Proper care includes good nutrition, proper maintenance, including monthly flea and heartworm prevention, and yearly visits to the veterinarian.

Know a senior who would like a senior? Often times, senior people will seek out the companionship of a pet, but a high-energy puppy or kitten may not be the best fit, and adorable puppies can quickly grow into large, strong dogs.

Seniors looking for a four-legged companion should consider a senior pet. Long past the puppy stage of chewing and barking, an older pet likely will also have an energy level that is manageable.

Studies show the health benefits of owning a pet are numerous. A person with a dog is more likely to get outdoors and walk regularly to exercise that animal. Pets also provide a natural boost to mental health. Pet companionship is especially beneficial to someone who lives alone or doesn't get out much to interact socially. It’s a win-win situation.

Please consider adopting a senior pet. Every shelter and rescue has seniors, and they need homes, too.

Events

FRIDAY: Chili Dog for Charity, a chili cook-off benefiting Animal Rescue New Orleans, takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors, 3645 North I-10 Service Road West in Metairie. Tickets are $10 and will be sold at the door. For more info, visit info@nomar.org

SATURDAY: "Feral Cat TNR, The Basics and Beyond" is a free two-hour class taught at the Louisiana SPCA from 10 a.m. to noon. If you want to practice trap, neuter, release and want to know how to get started, how to mediate problems, advocate for cats and how to solve difficult trapping situations, this is the class for you. This is also a great opportunity to learn more about the municipal ordinances in Orleans Parish as they pertain to cats. Register in advance by visiting la-spca.org/tnrclass.

SATURDAY: Meet adoptable animals from the Louisiana SPCA from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at PetSmart, 2900 S. Claiborne Ave., New Orleans. Adoption counselors and volunteers will be on hand to help you select the perfect rescue pet. A bake sale will be held to benefit the Special Needs Fund. For more information, visit la-spca.org/adopt.

SATURDAY: The Louisiana SPCA is holding a volunteer orientation from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Pre-registration is required at la-spca.org/volunteer.

SATURDAY: Santa, Paws & Pints, a fundraiser for ARNO hosted by Dames de Perlage, will take place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Port Orleans Brewing Co., 4124 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans. Activities include pet photos with Santa Paws ($10 for a 4-by-6-inch print; all proceeds benefit ARNO), and a raffle to win two Brass Passes to Jazz Fest 2019. Tickets can only be purchased day of. Winners need not be present; $1 from some draft beer sales will go to ARNO. Adoptable animals will be on-site.

SUNDAY: Basic Manners, a five-week group training class, starts at 10:30 a.m. at Jefferson Feed on Jefferson Highway. Taught by a certified trainer from the Louisiana SPCA, the class covers behaviors such as sit, down, stay, come, leave-it and focus. To attend Basic Manners, register in advance at la-spca.org/grouptraining or email training@la-spca.org.

TUESDAY: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Lily Rain, 3819 Magazine St., New Orleans, will donate 15 percent of sales to ARNO.

TUESDAY: Basic Manners, a five-week group training class, starts at 6 p.m. at Jefferson Feed on Jefferson Highway. Taught by a certified trainer from the Louisiana SPCA, the class covers behaviors such as sit, down, stay, come, leave-it and focus. To attend Basic Manners, register in advance at la-spca.org/grouptraining or email training@la-spca.org.

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

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator and marketing director of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com or for more info on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.