Excerpt from The Killeen
June 19, 2005
By Erin Steele
Killeen Daily Herald
A 14-year-old chihuahua
mix peers out at Officer Albert Musgrove from
his cage in the Killeen Animal Control
The officer bends down, and the dog eagerly
tries to lick his fingers as Musgrove pats its
"It's a real nice dog," Musgrove said. "We
found it abandoned in a hotel room. But when
people come in here, they don't want the older
dogs. They say, 'Oh, isn't that puppy so cute,
I want a puppy.'"
Musgrove has initiated the "Senior Dogs
Project" at the shelter, which gives people
a list of 10 reasons as to why they should
adopt older pets. From dogs to cats to
hedgehogs and rabbits, the shelter houses
numerous older animals, all looking for a
"Everybody comes in and wants puppies or
kittens. They want to train them," Musgrove
said. "Then six months later, they end up
bringing the animal back because it chewed up
something, it's not housebroken — or
they're not as good of a trainer as they
There are a variety of benefits to adopting an
older pet, Musgrove said. He adopted four older
dogs of his own, the oldest of which is 14. The
others are 13, 9 and 7 years old.
"They're housebroken, they're no longer
teething and they're not as active as puppies,"
Musgrove said. "Plus, they know what 'no'
Some older pets may have medical problems
younger animals do not, Musgrove said. In
addition, they may not be the best pet to own
for those who have toddlers.
"Older animals may have had a bad experience
with younger kids," Musgrove said. "If you have
a toddler, you may have to be a little more
watchful. They don't want their ears pulled or
they may have arthritis and don't fell like
Still, Musgrove said, older animals are a
blessing for people of almost any age
"Most people come in and say they're getting an
animal for their kid, but when the newness
wears off, it becomes theirs," he said. "So
you're going to want an animal that isn't
overly active. You'll want one that will lay at
your foot or sit by you on the couch."
Ginger Smith-Holmes, who works at the Second
Chance Animal Shelter in Killeen, said it can
sometimes be a challenge to convince people to
adopt older animals.
"It's the ones that are 9 and older that are
hard to adopt out," Smith-Holmes said. "The
comment I always hear is, 'I don't want to
adopt something that is going to die.' I always
tell them there's no guarantee on life, whether
you adopt something old or young."
The shelter has about eight older dogs, Smith
Holmes said, including 14-year-old Midnight,
11-year-old Lady, 12-year-old Mocha Sue and 12-
year-old Misty Blue, as well as 9-year-old
They also have six older cats, including
15-year-old Smoky, 9-year- old Pumpking and
"I've had people come back and say that they
loved having an older dog or older cat in their
lives," Smith-Holmes said. "They gave them so
much attention and they loved it. I just love
that, it's so great."
For more information on animals available for
adoption, call Killeen Animal Control Shelter
at 526-4455 or Second Chance at
for older dogs"
reasons to adopt an older dog
- Older dogs are
- Older dogs are not
teething puppies and won't chew your shoes
and furniture while growing up.
- Older dogs can focus
better because they are more mellow.
Therefore, they learn more quickly than
- Older dogs have learned
what "no" means.
- Older dogs settle in
more easily, because they've learned what it
takes to get along with others and become
part of the pack.
- Older dogs are good at
giving love, once they get into their new,
loving home. They are grateful for the second
chance they've been given.
- What you see is what
you get: Unlike puppies, older dogs have
grown into their shape and personality.
Puppies can grow up to be quite different
from what they seemed at first.
- Older dogs are instant
companions. — ready for biking, car
trips and other things that their owners like
- Older dogs leave you
time for yourself, because they don't make
the kinds of demands on your time and
attention that puppies and young dogs
- Older dogs let you get
a good night's sleep because they're
accustomed to human schedules and don't need
nighttime feedings, comforting or bathroom