For dogs unfortunate enough to find themselves left to chance in a shelter, their age has a lot to do with their odds of adoption. The likelihood of an elderly dog getting a second shot at life and a loving home is frighteningly low. However, because they often come with lots of good life experience, training, and manners, they can be the best companions. You might find that opening your heart to a dog that has less time on this earth is too risky, but it could be worth it, even if for only a short while. That old dog could be your best comrade and your favorite company, your most precious friend.
One little senior dog found herself advocated for by a team of United Hope for Animals volunteers when she needed it most. She was abandoned at the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center, and she was weak and ill. A typical Friday evening turned into a team effort to rescue this sweet pup, who would soon be named Maggie. While volunteer Claudia Angel phoned vets for a last-minute appointment, Director Laura Knighten coordinated with the shelter and with volunteer Janette Cooksey to transport her away from the shelter and to the life-saving medical care she required. As it turns out, Janette not only gave that helpless elderly terrier a ride, she gave her a home.
Janette so beautifully writes of the joy she found in adopting a senior dog:
In July 2011, I was asked to pick up a Wire Fox Terrier from the Baldwin Park Shelter. The Abandoned Terrier Rescue Association would then take the dog in to their rescue.
I will never forget when I saw her in that kennel. We were told that she was a 1 year old pregnant female. Instead she was an elderly dog in very poor health.
With the help of Claudia Angel and Laura Knighten, I was able to adopt her that day. Unfortunately, she was so sick I had to rush her to the vet. Dr. Mitchell at Montrose Pet Hospital kept this poor little girl for a week. She had pneumonia, along with many other health problems. We weren’t sure she would make it. But, she was a tough little girl and survived. I picked her up from the vet a week later and brought her home. The Rescue still wanted to take her in (no matter how old she was), but I felt so sorry for her. I decided to keep her.
I have always adopted adult dogs (5 or 6 years old). I have never adopted an elderly dog before. The vet estimated her age between 15 – 17 years old or older.
She had many physical health problems. She could not hear, had limited eyesight, she had no voice (she had been debarked), Cushings Disease, Liver Tumor, concave back and very bad teeth. When the vet cleaned her teeth she told me that she had never seen such bad teeth in a dog. Not only did teeth have to be pulled, but there was a foxtail wedged in the root of her tooth.
I could tell by looking at her that this sweet girl had a horrible life. I believe she spent her entire life as a backyard breeding dog in a kennel having puppies.
As I drove home from the vet with her, I heard myself saying “what am I going to do with this dog?” She’s old and sickly. And I shamefully admit I didn’t want to adopt her. Little did I know the amount of love and joy this elderly dog would bring in to my life. I named her….Maggie.
When I first brought her home she would cringe when I would try to pet her. She had no social skills. She was afraid of humans. As time went on she let me pet her, hold her and she would give me little kisses.
Her greatest pleasure was meal time. I don’t think I have ever seen a dog so excited about her meals. Maggie had a joy for life. She enjoyed the simple things….meal time and a soft bed. She seemed so appreciative of everything I did for her. Every time I looked at her, she would make me smile.
Maggie in her bed
I have loved every one of my dogs, but Maggie was special.
Only a dog….only Maggie could have the forgiveness in her heart to love people again. After being treated so badly her entire life she was capable of loving people.
I learned more from this little girl than I ever thought I could. People would say that she was lucky that I took her in. But I was the lucky one. She gave me so much. Friends told me how kind I was that I took in this elderly, sickly dog, but it was Maggie that showed me how wonderful an elderly dog can be.
Although I only had her for a short time….I had to put her to sleep in July 2012, she taught me so much.
Maggie gave me an appreciation for the elderly dog. I would not hesitate to take another one in. The senior dog that no one wanted became one of the sweetest dogs I have ever had.
I miss her so much. It was Maggie….this elderly, sickly Wire Fox Terrier that showed me how wonderful an older pet can be.
I am honored to have had Maggie in my life. That elderly, sweet girl that I will never forget. It is for her that I continue to rescue / adopt senior dogs.
Because of Maggie I recently adopted Buddy (aka Washington), a 17 year old Miniature Poodle who was surrendered by his owner to the same shelter. He is such a sweetheart.
Thank you, Maggie. Thank you for showing me how wonderful an elderly dog can be.
Thank you, Janette, for sharing with us Maggie’s story. We are glad that she was able to spend the remainder of her life in loving arms.
Maggie and Buddy have been lucky enough to retire in peace with people who truly care about their happiness. Yet, so many senior dogs are passed over in their shelter kennels purely because of their age. These dogs deserve to spend their golden years being loved. Who knows in what condition they’ve spent their lives, but it was with people who gave up on them. They need our attention just as much as the young pups that so easily steal our hearts.
If you are considering adopting an adult dog, please think about giving an elderly dog a chance.