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.

Senior Dogs On Grassy Walking Area

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 traveling 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.

Speech Bubble that Says "Pssst! Guys"

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.

Silhouette of Elder Dog Filled with Mask of Pathway

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.

Silhouette of Elder Dog Filled with Mask of Pathway

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 you 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.

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