I’m going to tell you a secret… I’m a softie ~ a push over ~ a soft touch ~ a heart for the underdog ~ literally. Sometimes my heart is bigger than my brain. And I love old dogs.
This week, I adopted an old dog. Correction, I adopted another old dog.
But, before I tell you about her, I want to tell you a little story. I had three little dogs for many, many years. Elvira was the oldest. I wasn’t looking for a dog the day I took her home. I was walking my dog when a woman down the street asked me if I wanted a puppy. It was 1983. I already had 2 dogs and I was packed up to move to South Florida to take my new job as personnel manager of a state prison. My plate was full and a new puppy just wasn’t in the plan. But, I looked… They were all adorable. My heart was untouched ~ so far. Then I noticed a puppy sitting off to the side. She had the biggest brown eyes and a huge worm belly. Something happened when our eyes connected. It was kind of like a spark ~ recognition of two old souls. The moment was magical and I knew she was special. Without a thought, I said ~ “I’ll take that one.” My brain was saying ~ “OMG. That puppy is going to die if she doesn’t get help.” It was a cold day. I took her home under my jacket and to the vet the next day. He confirmed my worst fear. She was in serious trouble with parasites at the ripe old age of 6 weeks. She had a rough few days. She passed more worms than anyone could have imagined. The crisis was over and she lived with me for the rest of her life. She died June 2000 at 17 years of age.
Then, later, I acquired a miniature dachshund, and a Maltese. Cocoa and Jake were the best buds in the world and Elvira was never far away. Jake and Cocoa grieved when Elvira died. When Cocoa died, I found Jake sleeping with his body. Then Jake died just 8 days after Cocoa in the spring of 2002. Could it have been because of a broken heart? Cocoa was 15 and Jake was 16.
In less than 2 years, I had lost all three of my dogs. My heart was broken and I did not have another dog for almost 2 years. When I finally felt like I could give another dog love without grieving for my three who had been with me all those years, I started thinking about getting another dog. I thought and thought about what I wanted. What breed, what size, male or female? I wanted just the right companion. I thought about everything for a couple of months. I was still working, so I had the welfare of the dog to consider. Getting a pet is a BIG decision and no one should act on impulse. I wondered if I had the energy and time for a puppy – the housebreaking, the chewing, whining and barking. One day, in total frustration at my inability to make a decision, I said to myself ~ out loud ~ ”You probably forgot how to take care of a puppy anyway…all you know are old dogs!” That was the very instant an idea was born. I would not go find some cute puppy. I would find an old dog that no one wanted. It was January 2004 when I adopted Vinnie. His age was estimated at 10-12 years. He was a rescue. Vinnie was with me until May 12, 2010.
In March 2004, I saw a wizened old yorkie at the pound. One look convinced me that no one would adopt her. Someone threw her out on I-4 like a piece of trash. I don’t know how she survived, but she did. The vet said she was close to 20 yrs old. She lived another 6 ½ months while being treated like a little princess. I named her Katie and she was 3 ½ pounds of pure, sweet sugar. She died while one of the 2004 hurricanes was slamming my house and it was my worst birthday ever.
Then came Maggie Mae in January 2005. She was not much more than skin and bones. She was flea infested and, due to her flea allergy, had chewed most of her hair off. Her skin was raw from all the chewing. I saw her pic on the pound website and her misery was etched in the expression on her face. Maggie Mae’s pound picture:
There were no adoption applications on her and she was nearing her end. I knew I had to help her. Yes…I adopted her. With good veterinary care, love and attention, she is now 15 and a beautiful little dog. They said she is long haired chihuahua. When her hair grew in, it turned out she is Papillion and a beautiful girl at that! Maggie Mae today:
I didn’t intend to get another dog so soon after Vinnie died, but another little dog at the pound came to my attention last week. She is approximately 8 years old. She was confiscated due to an eviction. I asked specifically what that meant. Basically, it means she got left behind. As is common with older dogs, she was in the pound from May 19 until I saw her June 3 without one single adoption application. Small dogs usually have applications placed in the first couple of days after arriving at the pound. I was concerned that she was there just over 2 weeks already without even one application. After discussing with my husband, I went back and put in an adoption application the next day. She came home Monday after her spay surgery. Wednesday, she was seen by my own vet. Her health issues are really minor. This is her pound picture:
Why did no one want her? She has a flea allergy. To the inexperienced eye, it looks like mange. It is not mange. One eye was matted closed and she has kennel cough…hello…too long at the pound and completely treatable. She was lethargic because of the kennel cough. It feels like the flu. Today, she romped in the backyard and we had our first photo shoot. She feels much, much better and it shows.
We named her Molly…
I don’t have statistics for the number of dogs that are not adopted – who end up being euthanized. I could research the statistics, but I am pretty sure I don’t want to know how many unwanted pets are killed. Puppies are cute and fun. Most people want puppies. Hardly anyone wants the older dogs. I want to point out the plus side of an older dog…
ü Older dogs are usually housebroken
ü They are way past the chewing stage
ü Often, they are more obedient
ü They seem to know and appreciate that you have given them a chance for life
I am like a one little old lady rescue organization. I do not have a house full of dogs. I have only two. Two small dogs at a time are all I can reasonably handle. I take on no more than I can afford to properly care for. Anything more is irresponsible. I wish I could save more old dogs, but I do what I can do. To adopt an older dog is a small thing, but it is HUGE for the dog because you are saving a life. I know I’m not putting any big dents in statistics, but I will save one life at a time, give them a healthy, caring home and keep them for the rest of their lives. I wish I could do more for the old dogs.
I hope the next time you decide to get a pet; you will consider a shelter pet. If you want a puppy or kitten, they have plenty of them too. They gave me a new owner package when I brought Molly home. In the package was a bumper sticker that says it all:
Think about it….
So….Who’s the winner? Molly or me? I’ll let you be the judge.UPDATE: This was written last June, shortly after we adopted Molly. She settled into our home very well. She is smart. There is never any question about if she needs to go outside....SHE TELLS US...LOL. Yep! We have a "talker". We are constantly smiling at her charming ways and she has brought much joy to us. She is now the picture of health. This was 2 weeks ago:
Isn't she precious?