Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why I want to Share my Home with Senior Dogs

USED: One 10 year old Basset Hound.
He doesn't move fast, he sheds, has gas, and eats like a horse.
And he's having "accidents".

Friends of ours fostered this dog. I think they were growing attached to him, despite the wet spots on the carpeting. Then along came an elderly couple, who fell and love and adopted the droopy-eared guy. They said it was their mission to give a good home to senior dogs.

 And I immediately thought, THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO DO! Adopt, or foster, senior dogs. After all, we have Kelly. She's 13 and living life to the fullest!

Kelly, now 13, is a happy senior dog.

 And Ike, at age 8 is considered a senior as well.

Check out Ike's white spectacles!

And we had Brooks, the best dog we've ever known. He was 11 years old when we adopted him. He seemed healthy, except for allergies. Then he was diagnosed with cancer, and died suddenly before we celebrated his One Year with our family.

Losing Brooks was one of the most difficult experiences I've faced. I stood by his gurney at the Emergency Vet, while he went into grand mal seizures, one after another. They said there was no option but to euthanize him, the cancer was most likely in his brain. I couldn't let them do it. Everyone left the room but me and Brooks, and I couldn't even pat the dog, who was no longer the Brooks I knew, because he was thrashing and foaming at the mouth. The vet popped her head in the door and asked if I was ready. "No," I said. So they gave me some more time with Brooks. The seizure passed and he was asleep, exhausted, barely alive.

 "Are you ready?"


 Finally, I couldn't let Brooks face another seizure, and we had to say goodbye. I'll never, ever forget Brooks' gentle soul, his stoic acceptance of what must have been great pain in the days, weeks, who knows how long before he was diagnosed. The way he melted at my touch. He was so submissive, he would never look into my eyes. But every night he sat with me in my big green chair, chin on my lap.

Brooks, age 11, happy in my lap!

This wasn't supposed to be a memorial to the greatest dog that ever lived. This was supposed to be a post about why I want to adopt or foster senior dogs. I want to, because senior dogs are gentle and noble, often tired, yet full of wisdom that comes from experience. I can't stand to see them lonely and homeless in their golden years. They deserve a soft, comfy bed, and the peace of having a consistent, stable, loving home until they go to the rainbow bridge. I love senior dogs.

But then, I reconsider, could I do it? Would I be able to do love another dog as magnificent as Brooks, only to lose him in too short a time? Would I be able to do it once more, or twice, or again and again? Would the comfort of knowing I'm helping these sweet dogs outweigh the grief of losing them?

Does it hurt to lose a dog after having him for only one year any more--or less--than to lose a dog after having him for 8 or 10 or 13 years? It's quick and easy to get attached to a dog. Losing is painful, no matter when it happens.

Going Strong: a very old dog I met at Bark for Life Walk-a-thon.

 So, if and when I adopt or foster senior dogs, I won't focus upon the losing. Instead, I'll keep my mind on the present. The happy times, where I witness this dog being loved and cared for, walking in the fresh air, sleeping on that comfy bed. Chasing a tennis ball, lounging on the couch, getting hair all over that couch, getting muddy paw prints on my kitchen floor. If I stay in the present, if I focus on what this dog needs right now, if I don't think about that part at the end when my tears flow and that comfy bed is empty...then, maybe then, I can foster senior dogs.

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  1. There is a rescue here in No California for senior pups only! Yay!
    Lily & Edward

  2. Frankie and ErnieApril 9, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Our mom says it isn't the Number of days together... it is the QUALITY of those days.

  3. Your mom is super smart. It's kind of like Lindt chocolate's such good quality, you want more!

  4. Such a beautiful post, Peggy. We've been talking about fostering a senior down the line. When the time comes, I'm going to reread this post!

  5. Love this post Peggy partly because we are right there with you. Our last three adoptees have been seniors (Becca, Jack & Maggie) and there's something about opening your home to these seniors who are just looking for a soft place to lay their heads. Ending up in a shelter at age 8 or 9 or 10 has to be so scary for these guys, so I aim to give them the happiest years of their life here with us. It is hard. We only had Becca less than three years. And it is expensive, Becca developed cancer and we had a lot of expense associated with her radiation and chemo. Jack has IBD, Maggie has arthritis - so what I say. They light up our lives everyday. Would I do it again - absolutely.

  6. Parenting FurkidsApril 9, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    It won't ever matter with me whether it's a full lifetime or somewhere after 1 minute. It will always be hard. I will fall in love within a minute no matter what. Once you love, it's going to be hard no matter what time you have together. I'm the person that they kept away from the cattle because I couldn't stand "knowing" them, and then watching them taken away. Not "knowing" them made it easier on me.

  7. What a sweet post. Brooks... he was such a good boy. A very very good boy. It sucks that you had so little time with him, but it was the same with our Abby - we had way too little time with her. So I like to think about the amazing quality of the time we had, rather than the quantity. I guess that is a philosophy that would go well with adopting seniors as well. Someday I'd like to convince the hubs that we should start saving seniors - but we'll see... It's hard knowing you'll lose them so much sooner. (But then - having a young pup is no guarantee, as we learned with Abby.)

  8. snoopy@snoopysdogblogApril 10, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Such a lovely post Peggy - My Mum would agree with Jackie that it's about the quality of the time rather than the quantity, she's learnt this the hard way when she lost her 2 year old Golden, the only way she could cope was to focus on the good memories.....

    I think any dog would be so happy to be a part of your family for any period of their lives! :)

    Big Wags to all,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  9. So beautiful Peggy. I follow Kim at Golden Pines and she always takes in the older unwanted Seniors. She has inspired me to do the same. I think when you look at it as giving them the much deserved love for their senior years, it doesn't make the parting any easier, but you know for that special time that you had them that they were loved. Brooks was one of the lucky ones.

  10. I want to do this as well, I just don't currently have the money to support the medical expenses that come along with senior pets, plus Rooney is going to be 4 and he still has enough energy to be overwhelming for seniors. However, this is most certainly one of my future goals. Although we have to loose a friend, the world becomes a better place for pets every time someone adopts or fosters an elderly pet. Space opens in shelters.....people learn of your story and fall in love with you pet too. I know it is difficult, but some scarifies are worth making. I commend you


Kelly and Ike say thank you for your comments!