Thursday, November 14, 2013

National Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Did you know senior dogs are less likely to get adopted and have a high euthanasia rate? Imagine spending your life devoted to a family only to have them decide you were too old be around anymore. You're taken to a place that's loud and where you'll sleep on a cold concrete floor. You'll be passed by just because you're "not going to live very long anyway." Sound like a happy scenario? Well, that's because it's not.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I might get preachy in this post?

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet month. This topic is very near and dear to my heart. For the past two years, my husband and I have fostered dogs through an organization named Izzy's Place Senior Dog Rescue. It's a group of dedicated volunteers, working tirelessly to save senior dogs from shelters and poor living conditions.

Here are a few little nuggets of wisdom I've learned in the past two years-
1. Never assume because a dog is older, he won't have energy to play.
2. Senior dogs have just as much love to give as a puppy, but without the hassle of potty training.
3. Senior dogs may require a little bit more "maintenance"  veterinarian care, but not all of them are on their last leg, staring down a mountain of impending vet bills.
4. "I may only get a few months or years to spend with a senior dog" is poor excuse not to adopt.
5. Never assume because a dog is older that he/she won't bond with your family.
6. The old adage- You can't teach an old dog new tricks, is bullshit.

Pictured below are the pooches who taught me these lessons.

This is Tiny (now named Finn). He was our first experience as foster parents. Saved from a shelter in Wyoming, he had to be shaved, to the skin, due to terrible matting.  I recently talked to his mom, she said, "Finn came to me as a wary survivalist and has turned into a loyal, loving, well-behaved, handsome (of course), older adoptee.  He was so worth the risk I took.  He has become my protector par excellence and the love of my life."

How beautiful is that?

This is Dexter or Dexie-Do, as we called him. When he arrived in Colorado, he was simply called "Old Man Dachshund". He didn't have a proper name because he was a puppy mill survivor.  About a week after he came to us, it was discovered that his teeth were so rotten, the infection had eaten away at the bone in his lower jaw, causing it to fracture. All of his teeth had to be removed. He had a long road to recovery, but now he's spoiled rotten in his forever home, with a fellow dachshund brother to call his own. His new mom will surprise me from time to time with little updates and it always brings a smile to my face.

This is Teeker. She was a... well, we don't know what breed she was. We all just thought she was a brindle cutie. Teeker was only with us as a temporary foster, so I don't know much of her back story. We loved having her here though. She was such a gentle giant. She was adopted not long after this picture was taken.

Emily was a dog we fostered, but then moved on to adopt. She was a rat terrier estimated to be between 14-16 years old when she came to Izzy's Place in April 2012. She was found dumped on a rural Missouri road. She was taken to a shelter where no one stepped forward to claim her. When she was discovered, her right eye had a horrible infection and she was almost blind in the left.

It looked very likely that she would be euthanized, until a local rescue group stepped in. They pulled her from the shelter and contacted IP. Emily then hitched a ride with fifty other dogs to Colorado.

Emily was a goof ball. Though she couldn't see, that didn't slow her down. When she barked it sounded like a fox call. She put so much effort into that bark, her front legs would launch off the ground. It always made us laugh.

Though we tried our best to save it, the infected eye had to be removed. This picture was taken not long after the surgery.

Little Em-dog crossed the Rainbow Bridge in December of 2012, only seven months after coming to live with us. My husband and I, along with her doggy brothers sat by her side as she passed peacefully.

Now I can hear you saying "Seven months? That's not very long. "

You're right, it's not.

But you know what? Emily spent those final months warm, well-fed, spoiled rotten, and a treasured member of our family. That was a  priceless gift, not only to her, but to us as well. That alone, made the pain of our loss, well worth it.

After Emily passed away, we had to take a break from fostering to mend our broken hearts. We missed our little princess and for a time we weren't sure we had the strength to foster again, but then came an email about a little dog named Peanut...

I wanted to share these stories so everyone could see that there is more than just heartbreak ahead when adopting a senior. There will be laughs, cuddles, wet noses, slobbery kisses, and games of tug-of-war. Sure, the time you have with them isn't guaranteed, but that can also be said when adopting a puppy. If you're looking to adopt a new friend, please consider welcoming a white muzzle into your heart and home. It's worth it. I promise!

For more information about adopting a senior, please check out Izzy's Place by following the LINK or checking out your local shelter! 

*We took Peanut in as a foster, but are now in the process of adopting her.
 I mean, c'mon! Could you say no to that little face?


  1. you and all the other folks who adopt senior dogs are my heroes

  2. This is absolutely the BEST blog ever! Thank you for being YOU and loving Seniors too!!!!

  3. Nothing like the love of a grey face. Thank you Izzy's and Nicki ..and all the others that fight the good fight for the old souls.