Monday, December 7, 2009

In Praise of Adopters of Older Dogs

For almost three years, Footloose has been the first on the list of Adoptable Pets on the Greyhound Adoption Center Site. Footloose had lived for years with her human companion as they both grew into old age. She had a wonderful life. She ruled the house. Her excellent physical health was testament to daily walks and routine veterinary care. But about two an a half years ago, life for Footloose changed dramatically when her human companion required assisted living--and a Greyhound could not be accommodated in the facility.

In a sense, luck still held for Footloose, because every dog who is adopted through Greyhound Adoption Center will always have a home there if they need it--and a chance for a new "forever" home. But a dog as old as Footloose is not easy to place. And each passing month meant she was older and harder to place. An additional problem was that Footloose needed to be an "only" dog. Most "dog" people who will consider a senior dog have already opened their homes to one or two oldsters. Footloose's time in the GAC kennel went on and on. The tapestry collar that her beloved human had given her was mute testimony to the life she had once enjoyed. Most of us familiar with the situation feared that Footloose would live out her days in the kennel as younger dogs came in, got healthy and rehabilitated, and went on to "forever" homes.

THEN,this past weekend, luck changed for Footloose. A couple who has had dogs in the past, but is now "dogless" asked to adopt the 11 year old beauty. They may have a few months with her. They may have years. But they want what time she has left to be spent in a loving home. I assure you that more than one person has wept for joy for Footloose.

My friend, Dayonne and her husband, Charlie own a pet wash and grooming business. Along with veterinarians, groomers are the first to face the problem of homeless senior dogs. Owners die, become incapacitated, and their treasured dogs frequently have nowhere to go. Since I have known them, I was aware of about five senior dogs that Dayonne and Charlie have taken in. But before writing about it, I thought I would check with Dayonne for accuracy. Without pausing, she listed NINE senior dogs--three of whom are presently living with them--that they have taken in over the years. Pepper, a Yorkie who was 15 when they rescued her, lived to be 18. Morgan, a 13 year old Maltese when rescued is now 18, and Dayonne thinks, perhaps, this is Morgan's last Christmas.

Recently, Lacey, a 7 year old Maltese needed a home. Dayonne contacted a couple in their 80's whom she knew were looking for a dog to replace one they had recently lost. They rejected Lacey as being too old! I'll refrain from commenting about that.

But the good news is that Lacey now has a home with Dayonne and Charlie. She joins Morgan and Henry, a really adorable 13 year old Yorkie mix.

There are rescues devoted to placing senior dogs. But there are many more senior dogs in need of homes than homes that will accept them.

Many private rescues require that dogs they place be returned to them if for any reason the adopter can no longer care for the adopted dog. If that is the case, your dog will always have a place to go and someone to take care of them.

But if you have adopted a dog from a public agency or a large humane society or you have purchased a puppy, be sure to include plans for that dog in your will or trust. When we owned Soft Coated Wheatens, their breeder agreed to be their guardian in case of John's and mine untimely demise. We added a codicil to our will to protect them.

In the meantime, if you are thinking about a dog--or another dog--consider a senior. Some people are reluctant to take in a senior because of imminent loss. But you never know. Since Morgan went to live with Dayonne and Charlie, I have lost three young dogs: Daphne, Zephyr and Portia. Life is unpredictable. Senior dogs teach us a lot about that.

1 comment:

  1. Four years ago we adopted an older dog, a coal black female cockapoo we named Bonnie. The rescue group told us she was five. When we took her to our vet he told us she was at least eight. She had had who knows how many litters before the rescue agency had her spayed. She was adorable. I do know she had been pretty well used and abused, but she had an inner sweetness so deep I called her "My Sweetness." We got to enjoy her for only three years. The last year she descended into doggy dementia which we could control for a while. She became very ill, and we had to make what our vet calls the "compassionate decision." I cried every day for weeks, but we never regretted having her, loving her and beling loved by her. Bonnie, we loved you and you are not forgotten.