Kittens and puppies can liquefy your heart. I know this - that's why I arranged for some liquefaction last week. But old pets, grizzled and wise-eyed, can charm you just as much, and move you in way that the babies don't.
These are pets that have seen a lot and smelled a lot, eaten things they shouldn't, leapt when they should have looked, and learnt some tricks. Sometimes they never lose their inner kitten or puppy; sometimes life teaches them that the simple pleasures are all that count: a bowl of food, a cushion in the sun, a cuddle with that person they've known all their life.
Please stand and offer your seats to the seniors.
Our cover-dog is Nitro, trusting and trustworthy.
Shilo at 17, benign and beautiful.
Jake is an early-golden-age 7 years old, but greying handsomely.
The sweet face of Coruba, aged 15-and-a-half. His owner gives a testimonial: "He has had radioactive treatment at 10, currently on steroids and B12 injections every month due to weight loss, but he is the most cuddliest, softest, loving, purriest catfriend/fur-angel, my sleeping-in partner on weekends, my comfort when I feel sad or sick and the first one to greet me when I get home from work. I love him with all my heart."
The late Sooty lived to a ripe 12.
Lucy is 9 years old and has only three legs after being hit by a car - but she still manages to move fast, especially if a ball is involved.
Alice lived a good 16 years before leaving the world a few months ago. She's not forgotten.
The late Ebony, at 8, with whiskers of distinction. She started going grey at the age of 3 but was never vain about it.
Tom is 15 next birthday, going strong.
Katie is a senior girl at 11, but still acts, runs and smiles like a puppy.
Here's Smij at 18, no longer with us. Her owner Cheryl says Smij was "in your face (literally) smooching every chance she got".
Molly loves to walk. Then she loves to take a breather.
I'm told Tara the Pomeranian is as angelic of nature as she is of face. And, at nearly 13, she could still win a beauty contest.
An elegant, dignified old gentleman: Jack the 15-year-old Foxy.
Eleven-year-old Chris has never lost the traveller's bug. Here he is in his favourite place - the car.
Barney, 13, is king of the kitchen floor.
Pepa made his mark on the world during his 12 years. And the world made a mark on him, or at least on his whiskers.
A barbecue cover in the sun - bliss for Kellan. RIP Kellan.
Brenny was the matriarch of a multi-species household. She loved water, especially puddles, and in her final weeks often curled up and slept in the rain. RIP Brenny.
Pita, nearly 11, greets the sun and any visitor who who might turn up at the door.
A little rusty but runs well: Pixi, who was inherited at 6 years old by owner Cheryl. "Over time she became rather deaf (and developed a rather loud meow to compensate) and she gradually became slower ... but always had it in her to catch the odd mouse in between snoozing in the sunniest spots around the house."
Ten-year-old Mouse rules over two cats, a puppy, and five humans.
Sevanna's coming up to the big One-O.
Sally at sweet 16. RIP Sally.
Nemo's making an adjustment. He's 10 years old, and suddenly shares the house with a new baby.
Look at Jack's agility certificate. Look at it! How's that for a senior citizen of 10?
Lace is 12, a retired dairy farm dog who enjoys chasing rabbits and sleeping on the couch.
Vinnie's on holiday.
Chilling in the sun: 8-year-old Crunchie.
This is Merlot, of whom her owner Linda is proud. Twelve-year-old Merlot is "the highest qualified Griffon in NZ in agility, obedience, and Rally-o. Happily retired. Pictured here with the Griffon Club Best Black in show trophy, gained in November. Love my boy."
Let owner Lauren tell Jake's story: "This is my beautiful friend Jake. He would accompany me and my horse on the beach for lovely runs. Jake always knew when I got out the saddle he was in for some fun. As he and my horse aged, rides out weren't as long, but we would still go. This photo shows Jake at the beach without his equine friend, who at the age of 32 just couldn't take the work anymore. If only I knew that this would be the last time Jake and I would go to the beach. He died a few weeks after this photo was taken, my great friend for 13 years. Then later in the year I lost my old horse. I have comfort knowing that they are together as they liked to be."
Jodie was adopted from the Te Awamutu SPCA so has one of those rough SPCA age estimates - 13 or 14.
Riely made it to a regal 15. RIP Riely.
She's nearly 15, but Mouse is still active and catching rabbits.
The couch was forbidden, but 11-year-old Phoebe got round that rule by hiding in plain site. RIP Phoebe.
Ace is 15 and Skyla is 3. Ace likes the young one's company, really.
Finally, a smile from Lass, who these days prefers sitting on the truck watching others round up cattle. Oh and belly rubs. One thing about age, it focuses you on what really matters.
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