I was watching a rescue video the other day; these videos do the job that they were meant to, they pull on your heart strings. Images of dogs who are in need of a forever home set to great music. At the end of video they had a section saved for the seniors; senior dogs looking for a home. This is especially hard to see; old dogs who have spent their young lives with someone only to be dumped in their golden years. When you see a senior dog in a cage; their eyes longingly looking through the chain link, it is simply heart wrenching.
I always wonder about the lives of these old dogs; where did they spend their early years? Did they have a happy carefree life spent with children? Or was it a lonely life from the start? As a dog grows into their senior years they often require more care; and sadly sometimes the people who are meant to do the caring are not willing. How can you not care for your dog? I just don't get it. A dog gives us so much and the golden years are our turn to really give back.
As I watch my two old girls sleeping; soaking up the warmth of a sunbeam, leisurely rolling around in the grass of the backyard or snuggled up tightly on the couch with the family I just cannot imagine old dogs who are void of a family. To see my girls with such a sense of security and contentment; they haven't a care in the world and that is how it should be. I've heard many a story of a family getting a new puppy; the resident old dog has some complaints about a young'n coming into the mix and the family "gets rid" of the senior dog. What????????????? Sometimes a mix doesn't work; sometimes a new puppy just doesn't fit; BUT YOU DON'T GET RID OF YOUR OLD DOG. You either call a professional who can help work through the small issues or you find a great home for the puppy. A puppy has their whole life ahead of them; a change in the very beginning of it is not catastrophic but for an old dog it surely is.
Imagine living with someone your whole life and just when you need to rest your head; the time when you most need someone to step up and give you a little extra care, they ship you off. Now in your senior years; you are vulnerable and tired, learning a new is possible but not desirable. Old dogs deserve our best; this is the time when we humans need to shine. Of course dogs deserve our best all the time; right from birth they have earned out commitment of care.
Think about adopting a senior dog; it can be a life altering decision. Taking on a dog at the end of their life takes a strong heart. You already know that a senior will not be with you for long; but the impact on your life may be tenfold. I do know of a woman in our area who scoops the old ones from the shelter; simply to give them a home in their last years. For many people this is just too difficult; and I completely understand, it can be extremely sad. But by looking past our needs and only to theirs; we grow as a person. Often the requirements for adopting a senior dog is a soft bed, a bucket of patience and a gentle hand; the rest falls into place on its own.
Dogs are a giving creature; they don't ask a lot of us. Food, shelter and companionship is meager compared to what they give us. And what does a dog give us? Everything they've got.