Monday, November 09, 2015

Senior dogs are gifts ~ my column from Sunday's pape

November is Adopt a Senior  Dog month, which is an idea I can embrace. I’ve written about our pets in the past. They’ve all been remarkable, but none of them have given us more joy than the old dogs.

We’ve never bought a critter. Often when our dogs chose us, they were in the late autumn of their lives.

We all love puppies and rightly so. They are beautiful, fun loving and vivacious. With a little care and a lot of love, they can thrive for years.

But caring for older dogs can be challenging. Their bodies change and often need more attention keeping them healthy.

And in the end, it’s painful losing an old friend but I believe you will cherish the time they spend with you.

I think most people do right by their pets, but there are some who can’t be bothered with frail or sick animals. So, they dump them and move on.

Several years ago a family with small children moved into the place up the road. They had two older dogs that they had owned for a while. In the evenings, I could hear the little girl stand on their front porch and call, “Charlie, Charlie, come home.”

A while later a dust mop of a dog would amble up from somewhere behind the house and play with the little girl until it was her bedtime.

We met the family, but they kept their distance from neighbors. They were here for over a year before moving off suddenly. They left their two dogs.

We assumed that once they were settled at their new place that they’d come back for their dogs, but that didn’t happen. It became obvious after several days that they would not return.

Jilda put bowls of food and water at the edge of our yard so the dogs wouldn’t go hungry. Charlie spent most afternoons at the end of our drive looking off into the distance. I can imagine that he wondered where his friend had gone and why she left him behind.

It took over a year for Charlie and Dawg to adopt us. They probably were thinking, “These people are old, and it’s going to take some time. I hope they’re potty trained.” I could write a book about those two.

Another dog that came to live with us looked like a full-blooded Labrador retriever that we named Wheezer. He was an elderly dog with health issues. Instead of euthanizing their old friend, which would have been the humane thing to do, his former owners dumped him on the road near our house.

He only lived a few months, but his last days were comfortable with plenty to eat and a warm place to sleep. He died in the doghouse in the backyard and we buried him along with our other beloved pets we’ve lost through the years. Wheezer was one of the most loving dogs we’ve ever cared for.

Many of the older dogs that lived with us weren’t much to look at, but they had a lot to offer. They were all great with small children and they seemed to know intuitively when either Jilda or I weren’t feeling well.

All of our old dogs were gifts, and I admire anyone who opens their home and hearts to a senior dog.


  1. Great post, Rick. I do believe you could write a column about those two dogs?

    Ms Soup

  2. It breaks my heart at seeing pets mistreated or abandoned. All the animals I've cared for also came to us as either abandoned or mistreated. Three chose us.
    A great post this morning.

  3. Dear Rick, the only dog I've ever lived with was Kentucky. Mom named him after the road on which we lived. She knew that we couldn't remember our road name but that we'd always remembered his name. He followed my brother everywhere on the farm.

    Since leaving home and settling in a town miles away, I've lived with cats. Bartleby, a true gift from the Universe, was deserted in the woods in New Hampshire many years ago. He is dead now but he gave me such joy. Animals bless our lives and I feel sorry for those people who don't realize that. Peace.

  4. Well my friend, this is the first article I have ever read on this subject. Great article and sweeter feelings expressed. Nothing can do me in like a dog cocking his head to the side and giving me 'the look'. When we stop running, I am getting an old Beagle to grow old with.

    Loved it.

  5. all dogs are gifts whether they are young or old. They just want to love and be loved. Can't get much better than that.

  6. Dogs need their people. It saddens me when the dogs are abandoned because you can see on their faces that they are not sure what happened and they are hurt that their owners left them. Far better to find them another home.

  7. Our girls are both seniors and I wouldn't have it any other way. They bring so much joy into our lives.They may require more vet visits and medicine but when those frosty faces look up at you filled with love, my heart melts.

  8. My Achilles heel has always been dogs. I had tears in my eyes, envisioning Charlie at the end of your drive, waiting for his little human to reappear. You and Jilda are angels, indeed.

  9. And you CAN teach them new tricks!

  10. Hell yes older dogs have a lot to offer

  11. Dogs are just special in every way. My hubby is a cat person and I am a dog person. Funny...I was just looking at the Humane Society and there is a beautiful German Shepherd that I would love to adopt if i was not already inundated with 5 cats and 1 doggie. (My hubby often wins when he flashes his baby browns). This doggie is 9 yrs old and I would adopt him but he is not happy with other animals plus I can't afford it. I always believe in adopting either an older dog or one that has been rescued. Our Wallace is a rescue. He comes from New Orleans (born after Hurricane Katrina) and must have seen some nasty things. He is still terrified of the outside and hates walks. I think he was shot at-people can be so cruel. He is my beautiful boy. I am so happy you took in those 2 dogs plus others. It is cruel to just dump them. They are our fur children-they wouldn't leave their kids behind so how can they do this to an animal that shows nothing but love.

  12. I feel like you wrote this for me! We're still on the hunt for a furry friend. It would be easier if one would show up at the Pines! The adoption process for a dog is turning out to be a long, complicated issue. I'm sure the reason for all the questions and references and home visits is to make sure idiots don't adopt dogs they can't or won't take care of. I know how much you and Jilda love all the dogs you've had adopt you...and I admire that! We're heading to the pound this weekend...wish us luck!

  13. Oh my goodness, this makes me so sad to read because our Trudy has been with us for 15 years now and we really don't know her true age because she was a rescue. It is painful to watch her movements and see she cannot see very well and can't hear either, but other than that, she seems all right and the vet says she's in good health for a dog her age. I cannot believe anybody would just leave their pet, but I know they do. It's heartbreaking.

    I see Yaya's comment above. When we adopted Trudy, we had to sign a contract that said we would be liable for $1,000 if anything happened to her and that if the humane society thought we were mistreating her in any way, they would come take her. Trudy has been loved all these years. I hope she will have a peaceful end.

  14. Dogs have an intelligence we can't understand; they know who will care for them and recognize dog lovers. Like you, I would take in a dog in a heart beat - especially one that has been abandoned. Poor things.

    You and Jilda are doggie-saints.

  15. After posting my blog, I began making the rounds to my friends' blogs.
    I read this with tears in my eyes as I had just posted about my daughter's dog.....Charlie.
    Love fur babies. I don't have one of my own.
    Thank you and Jilda for caring for these babies in the latter years of their sweet lives.
    Bless you both.

  16. It is so sad when people desert their pets; I have a hard time understanding how they can do that. Taking care of a pet should be a till-death-do-us-part commitment if at all possible. I love our dog Ginger who is going on 13 years old and would be devastated to lose her. She was a bit hyper when she was young, but has since calmed way down, and is the nicest and smartest dog a person could ask for--and she's part of the family. It's so kind of you and Jilda to take care of these dear old dogs that other people leave behind and take for granted.


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