We tend to choose certain breeds in light of our own desires, keeping them in ways that are convenient to us. That's why certain breeds such as labradors and spaniels, with their soft, glossy, coats and floppy ears seem to appeal to many of us so much more than many other breeds and crossbreeds. Aside from appearance, we also tend to prefer animals whose behavior is easily molded and suited to our lifestyles and personalities. Breeds such as the staffordshire bull terrier, mastiffs and pit bull terriers are tarnished with a certain reputation; physically, with their muscular form and distinctive head-shape, they are not necessarily what many people want, while their behavior is stereotyped as aggressive. Shelters across the U.S. are crammed full of dogs like these, waiting for people to adopt them. The end result is often euthanasia because there are simply too many of them. Add age to the mix and the problem becomes seemingly insurmountable.
Through our relationships with animal companions we can appreciate the love and personal characteristics of each individual animal. We hope that someone who loves animals just as much as we do would also recognize that. Anyone who shares a life with a companion animal would want, if they passed away, their animal not to be overlooked, leaving them to face a lifetime of loneliness, simply because of their age. Animals might be our companion species, but we are also companions to them because human-animal relationships are two-way. Just because we can no longer look after them does not mean that they no longer need family. Often the elderly are less valued by our society and they tend to become peripheral and this applies across species whether it's the animals subject to culls in national parks, through to zoo animals and, in this instance, companion animals waiting to be adopted into new homes. Perhaps it's time for this attitude to change? While some animals might only live for a few months, it's important to recognize that mature dogs and cats, even though they are old, and despite our own anticipation of distress when they shortly pass away, continue to need companionship and happiness until the end of their lives.
Having an animal in our lives is good for our own sense of wellbeing and this is heightened when that animal really needs us. One of the kindest acts after instances of neglect and abuse is to give animals the chance to live out their final years in a safe home. It also provides a fulfillment to the human in the relationships and it has also been said that older dogs can often be perfect family members and companion animals for older people.