Thursday, July 22, 2010

Never too old to be loved.

What a great morning in the woods!  With that good brisk breeze and the cooler temperatures there wasn't a horsefly in sight!  Being able to do this is always one of the best bits about being retired ... but even more so when we get a break from the bugs.
Casual acquaintances are sometimes surprised to find out that Andy has no trouble keeping up with the big dogs.   Why?  Because he's a senior?  Because he's not much bigger than a cat? 
How many times do small dogs come into rescue because people don't realize they need all the same things that their bigger counterparts do?  Exercise, training and boundaries are really the only way to make love of any size last forever, eh? 
I wish I could hand out booby prizes .. so far this year it would go to the woman who surrendered her lovely little poodle because her new boyfriend wanted a big dog.  Sheesh.  Before he became ill, McG could tire out any big dog!
How many times are seniors surrendered or abandoned because they are thought to be past their expiry date?  ( the topic of how many seniors are abandoned by backyard breeders who feel they are 'no good for anything' is a separate rant needing a separate post on another day. As is the topic of how many of them make a side trip to an unsuspecting home via Kjijii before they come into rescue )
How many times are seniors passed over by adopters?  Some worry about vet bills.  Some are afraid to adopt a pet who might not have fifteen years of love left to offer.  And some just believe the old saw that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
To be perfectly honest, one of the nicest things about adopting a senior pet is that they don't always need to be taught new tricks.  Being older and wiser, even the ones that aren't housetrained are so eager to please that they catch on quickly.
Years ago, I adopted a senior terrier named Scamp and had the pleasure of living with him for over six years.  Readers who followed the old blog likely remember reading about Ben - who was a beautiful five year old Golden that I adopted.  Ben was only with us for a few months before we suddenly and very unexpectedly lost him :( 
In other words .. living breathing sentient beings do not come with a warranty for mileage.   The only thing that pets can guarantee us is that they will love us unconditionally for the time they have to offer. 
We can boost the odds a bit by taking the best possible care that we can.   Buttercup was a senior when my friend Joan adopted her and they have been regaling the dog loving world with stories and pictures for years, eh?
With only two teeth, its hard to pin down Andy's age reliably ... our best guess is that he was 13 last fall when he was adopted.   Which in his case turned out to be a lucky number as he clearly hadn't been accustomed to a lot of life's comforts.  From wearing coats on cold days to being allowed on the couch, it took the little man a while to understand that these things were ok in this house.
Andy has gone from trying to hide in the closets to sleep at his foster mom's to looking for a lift up on the bed every night.
If providing an adopted pet with a better new life brings special satisfactions, that experience is multiplied with senior pets.  They are old enough and wise enough to really appreciate things, eh?  I know that I say it all the time... but if everyone knew how wonderful senior pets were, there wouldn't be enough to adopt.
Which of course is why I do The NS Senior Pet Project .  I know I tend to see the world through rose colored glasses, but I truly do believe that one kind heart at a time, senior pet adoption is starting to catch on.
This spring, I was telling anyone who would listen about being awarded a Golden Paw award from the society for my work with the homeless pet sites.  But I could pass out my own awards, it would be to the way they have embraced change and now pull out all the stops for the senior pets in their care.
What time is it?  Its always time to remember that pets are never too old to be loved.

1 comment:

Sarah B said...

Hi Janet, I'm adopting a retired breeder (she's 8) and I'm wondering if you know of any resources for senior dogs such as how to start an exercise regimine, weight loss program, etc. I currently have a 2 year old cairn terrier and I'm just looking for some reading to make the transition from a single dog house to a two dog house.