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Editor's Notebook: When picking out a pet, younger is not always better

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By Debra Utterback
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:30 p.m.

While waiting to buy stamps at the Sewickley post office, I started talking to a man there about pets.

They're a great common denominator, right? Either you're a “pet person” or you're not. Those of us who are, like to talk about it.

I happen to fall into the category of believing every house should be home to the pitter-patter of paws.

The man at the post office was praising local animal shelters. He said when his 19-year-old cat died, he headed to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society to find a new feline companion for his family.

Unlike many others who seek out cute and curious kittens, this man, a veteran who served in Iraq, passed up the young felines and stopped in front of the cage of a 6-year-old cat that reminded him of his beloved pet. The cat was clawing at the bars.

Someone watching warned him: “That cat looks mean.”

Someone else might have moved past the cage. He didn't.

He told the onlooker the cat wasn't mean, it just needed to be out of the cage. He adopted the cat, took it home and found the fur ball to be just what he expected: a loving and great addition to the family.

Four paws to that man for giving a home to a deserving older animal.

It would be easy to pass up the aging pets and seek out the young animals. Who can resist adorable, playful puppies or kittens? Everyone wants to see their pet grow from puppy to adult dog, right?

Well, grown dogs rock. From my experience, they're already trained and ease right into the family, tails wagging and tongues hanging. They learn quickly, adjust easily to a new routine and they're eager to please.

The Humane Society, Animal Friends and rescue groups such as Three Rivers Greyhounds of Pittsburgh make it easy to find adoptable dogs, cats and other pets. They sometimes give discounts for pets older than 1 year.

Of course, there are plenty of puppies and kittens available for those to prefer to go that route. They need homes, too.

But I think gray around the whiskers is better.

Debra Utterback is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1403 or

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