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Seniors Do It Best!

By Immydog
In shelters everywhere, the animals with the least chance for adoption, and often the least chance for survival, never even making it to the adoption floor, are the animals with the most years under their collar.  The senior dogs and cats that end up in shelters, usually do not make it out.
There are those people who purposely seek out and adopt senior animals.  These people have the most to invest, both financially and emotionally, and the most to lose.  They invest a lot financially in these animals as senior pets are likely to develop health problems that require veterinary care. They invest a lot emotionally, because when you adopt a senior pet, you are not going to have that pet for ten years.  If you were to ask a senior adopter what it is they lose by adopting a senior pet, you will not hear about the money or the time invested.  You will likely hear that what they lose is their heart.  They lose it by  falling in love with that senior pet, and mourning their loss within just a few months or years of having been together.
Seniors Do It Best!
Buddy was a senior Australian Shepherd mix.  He was in a high kill shelter in Missouri.  I saw a photo of his handsome face and agreed to take him into our rescue despite his age.  In rescue, people know what type of dogs/breeds/cats that people have weaknesses for, and that is how Buddy's photo ended up in my email box.  When he arrived, his face was the same handsome face in the photo, but what was not seen in the photo or expressed in the email was the condition of the rest of him.  The back half of his body had no hair.  His tail also was devoid of hair, resembling the tail of a rat.  There were warts all along his hairless back and rump.  His teeth were chewed down and stained with metal (often seen when dogs are caged outside and chew on the the chain link out of frustration and boredom).
Buddy was going to be with us for a while and we knew it.  He was gorgeous from the neck up, but his baboon butt was not going to help find him a loving home, and neither was his age.  So we introduced him to my dogs and he was allowed to stay in the office area with us during the day, rather than in a cage.  He was wonderful and we loved him.  We discovered that his hair loss was due to undiagnosed thyroid disease, easily and inexpensively treated.  We removed his warts when we neutered him.  His new life was beginning, and he was enjoying it.  His hair grew in thick and gorgeous for an old man.
For months he lived as an office dog.  He was part of our family.  Then along came a woman.  She wanted our Buddy, and we were both skeptical and excited at the same time.  We went through her application and it was wonderful.  She came up to meet him.  I went into the room to talk to her and I recall asking her, "Why our Buddy?"  I had to hear the right answer, even though I didn't know what the right answer to that question could be.  She looked me in the eyes, her eyes welled up with tears, and she said.  "His eyes.  I fell in love with his eyes."
As the adoption proceeded, we all cried and said our goodbyes.  You can read a thank you note with a photo from Buddy's Mom (who named him Charlie) here.  Our Buddy recently passed away due to kidney failure after three years knowing a loving family.
Remy is a Shih Tzu whose elderly human companion was placed in a nursing home.  Her niece tried to care for him, but she simply did not have the time to give poor Remy, and she knew he was suffering as a result.  Remy entered our rescue as a 10 year old dog with a heart murmur, and little chance of adoption, but we did not give up on him.
Seniors Do It Best!
We tried to get Remy into breed specific rescue groups who could offer him a foster home, but they saw his age, and he was rejected.  We gave him all of his medical care updates, including a dental which was greatly needed.
In another town, a woman was making the difficult decision to euthanize a senior dog she dearly loved.  The very next day, the same woman saw Remy on our website, and she knew he was to spend the rest of his time with her. 
Remy had the time of his life living with this woman, her other dogs and cats, and making friends at a retirement home which he visited weekly.  He allowed the residents to hold him upside down and coo at him as though he was their baby.  His heart touched each of theirs.  Something that could not have happened had he not been adopted.
Seniors Do It Best!
Seniors Do It Best!
Remy's failing heart recently gave out after thirteen months with his new mom, but that heart was full of love to the very end.
Seniors Do It Best!
Herkie was a stray in a neighboring town.  He was obviously a senior dog with greying muzzle and obvious hind limb arthritis problems.  He has a long wonderful story which you can read here: Herkie's Story .  He was a friendly and sometimes youthful dog who carried a toy outside with him every time he had to go potty!  Another rescue group offered us a foster home for him.  While we would miss him, we knew that Herkie being in a true "home" setting would be best for him.  He moved from Iowa to www.AdoptaLab.org in Illinois.  His foster Mom did an amazing job with him as you can see if you read the above linked story, and we assumed that his foster home would be his life long home.
Then we got the message that a woman was going to adopt our Herkie.  Herkie was again on the move, this time to New Jersey.  She built Herkie a set of stairs so he could sleep in her king size bed with her.  He went on vacations with her.  He played in the yard with her as though he was a puppy. 
Seniors Do It Best!
Seniors Do It Best!
After just five and a half months with his loving mother, Herkie's body succumbed to seizures and inability to walk on those arthritic hind legs.  His mother stayed with him when he was put down, gazing into his eyes, and whispering "I love you" into his yellow lab ears.  He knew the love of a forever family, even if only for a brief amount of time.
To the parents of Buddy/Charlie, Remy, and Herkie,  and to ALL adopters and foster parents of senior and special needs dogs, this blog is your tribute.  Your dedication and patience to the animals that have only a brief time left in this life is admired by all of us in rescue.  Thank you for being there for our senior friends, and in that way, for being there for us. 
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