Tagged: “Paws & Co. Adoptions”

Four Adopted Senior Dogs: Sharing the Same Tale

A woman sits with two senior dogs

Kate sits with her senior dogs, PawsCo alumna Addie (left), and Jackson (right).

By Kate Ahrens
Published in Grand County Pet Pals

On January 6 of this year, my nearly 19-year-old mini senior Dachshund, Celeste, died in her sleep. She was surrendered to a rescue group because her owner died. Celeste had been fostered since October of 2010. She came to live with me three years ago.

Had it not been for my friend Barbara, who adopted a senior bloodhound/golden retriever mix named Maggie, I likely would have never had the privilege of being the guardian of Celeste. Maggie’s person died and she was surrendered to a shelter. Maggie found a loving home with my friend. She went from a dog who never wagged her tail, to a dog who not only wagged her tail often, but leaped around the yard like a colt.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that before learning of Maggie, I shared the opinion of so many people who don’t adopt senior pets; the animal’s age. They don’t have a long life expectancy. People don’t want the heartbreak of the animal dying sooner than later. My heart did break when Celeste died. However, it was so filled with love from my experience of having adopted her, it didn’t shatter.

People are also hesitant to adopt a senior because of “assumed” medical expenses. When adopting a dog, regardless of the age, you always want to get as much of the medical history as you can. This way you are able to make a well-informed decision about whether or not you will be able to adopt the pet. I found a wonderful pet insurance company called PetFirst Pet Insurance. They are thrilled people adopt senior pets and offer policies that are affordable. I paid $14.95 a month for Celeste’s coverage. That’s less than the cost of a take out pizza a month.

Max and Celeste, Kate's first senior pups.

Max and Celeste, Kate’s first senior pups.

In April of this year, my other dog Max died in his sleep while I was working. He was 15 1/2. I adopted him when he was one. Devastated? Absolutely. I made the decision that when there were two vacant dog beds in my home, I would adopt two senior dogs. I knew I could never replace Max or Celeste. I could, however, provide a home to two dogs who needed one. Enter Jackson, age 15, a mini Dachshund and Addie, age 10, a small mixed breed. Like Celeste and Maggie, their owners died and the dogs both ended up at a shelter.

Senior dogs and cats at a shelter are usually the first one’s to be euthanized. That’s because they are considered unadoptable and shelters want to make room for pets who will get homes quicker. Listed below are just a few reasons that they really are adoptable.

1. Senior dogs have already gone through the teething phase. So your shoes will look the same when you go to bed as when you put them on in the morning.

2. They have been potty trained.

3. They sleep a lot, so they don’t require entertainment like a puppy or younger dog. Maybe you can finish that book after all.

4. Their personalities are already developed. They will bloom when they get adopted.

5. They still enjoy going for a walk. It might be a little slow, but that’s perfect so you can smell the roses, too.

6. They can still learn new behaviors and enjoy toys.

7. They deserve a loving home to spend their final days, months and years in.

Some shelters and rescue groups offer discounts to those who adopt a senior pet. As I end this article, Addie is asleep next to me on the couch. Jack is sound asleep on the floor with his head resting on my right foot. They are home, they are loved, and my heart has a constant song.

A small mixed-breed dog sleeps on a couch

Addie, a senior mixed-breed and PawsCo alumna, sleeping soundly in her new home.


A Lady and Her Lily


Lily rests on the shoulder of her foster mom, Garnett

Lily rests on the shoulder of her foster mom, Garnett

By Garnett Smith

I received Miss Lily on April 12. Having fostered large dogs, I thought I was prepared.

Here is the Saga of Miss Lily and an Old Woman!

I got Lily on the afternoon of April 12. Miss Lily didn’t look at me. She just hung her head with a very blank look. She wore a “lost and never to be found again” look. The shelter and the PawsCo. vets thought she was a 10-year-old Teacup Poodle. Her nose was runny. The vets hoped it would stop running after they pulled her teeth. She sounded like she had bronchitis. Her hair was terribly matted. The vets did the best they could cutting her hair, but she still smelled like the animal shelter.

I live in an assisted living facility, and I am 71 years old. I have had only large dogs and I was getting a very small dog. I lost my adorable Lhasa Apso in December 2011, and my beautiful greyhound in January 2012. I was so lonely. I needed a dog to complete my little apartment. I had no idea the challenge I was up against, but Lily and I met the challenge.

Everyone at the facility wanted to hold her instantly. I refused to let them and explained that she and I needed to bond. But I wanted her to get used to human voices, smells, a gentle pat, and a kind word.

I checked Lily and saw that she was not spayed, and it looked as though it wasn’t that long ago she had puppies. I thought, “Oh dear God, this poor little one has been dumped, and she can no longer make money for her living.” Her teeth were rotten and wore down. This can happen when a caged animal wants out — it will try to gnaw its way out.

I put Lily out to go potty and just sat there and watched her. She tinkled and came right back into the apartment. I fed her soft food. My friend Judy fixed her chicken broth, and got her senior small animal Wellness dry food; my other friend Kerrie bought her soft small dog treats right away. Both friends gave her hugs and loves, and welcomed her into our fold. Kerrie and Judy are both great people.

Small black dog wearing a flowered shirt.

Lily shows off her new shirt.

I lied beside her when we went to bed that night and she wouldn’t look at me. She didn’t quiver. She had given up, and her little chin speckled with grey hairs told me a lot.

I thought, “Oh God, you gave me strength when I brought my first child home. Give me strength now because I am going to need it!” Little did I know.

The next day I spoke with my vet tech (Sarah is a Doll), and she agreed with me on the breeding and said that the dental surgery would take place May 7. I requested antibiotics, along with some type of arthritis medicine. Sarah went to work and got it for me. My little angel didn’t want meds. She didn’t want to live. But she liked butter, so down went the meds into her tummy.

I sat her in the wash basin on a towel and went to work on her hair do. I am not the best hair dresser, but at least one could see her eyes. They are the most beautiful black lined with white. I trimmed around her little long nose and she … why, SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL!!!! We went for a ride, me in my electric wheel chair and she locked in my arm. We visited with anyone who wanted to pet her and then we went over to the park. She walked a little, but she can’t walk far. She is handicapped! Her little front legs look as though one could have been broken and set with a board. On her other leg the foot turned out at the ankle.

I have a black male cat by the name of Murray Eugene, and he has quite the out-going personality. He greets everyone at the door, sits on my desk and makes himself very noticeable (Nice word for loving and obnoxious)! He felt Sarah wasn’t paying enough attention to him. Sarah bent over to pet Miss Lily in her bed, and Murray took a hold of Sarah’s jeans with his teeth. Murray had competition! Sarah said, “This is a first. I’ve had cats take a hold of me in different ways, but never by the pants!”

Miss Lily wasn’t interested in the cats, nor was she interested in me. The next day after I came back from lunch we went for a ride. She got pats and heard everything from “Oooh, she is so tiny and look how sweet she is,” to “Here Baby, have a puppy treat.” Miss Lily had no teeth, so I chewed up dog treats and spit them in my hand and she ate them — people were just thrilled!

A couple of days with me and she knew she was very safe. She started to walk from room to room, go to the patio door and bark at the squirrels that came up for a peanut. It was the first time I have ever seen a shocked look on a squirrel’s face.

She didn’t know how to play with toys, or get tummy rubs, under the arms tickles, or a sincere pat. I would hold her and she would go right up to the left side of my neck and snuggle. I would talk softly to her, kiss her back, and tell her she was loved and wanted. I told her how cute she was and what a smart little girl she was. I would say, “Lily, how did you know to bark at those squirrels?” She would just snuggle as close as she could into my neck.

She learned to tell time immediately. I was allowed 30 minutes for lunch and dinner, and 15 minutes to take off my makeup and brush my teeth. If I didn’t abide by her watch she started barking, and bark she could!

Small black dog with her tongue hanging out.

Lily lets her tongue hang out.

Who taught this dog to bark?

I decided that she needed a bonnet, ear ribbons, a T-shirt, and a cord. So off we went. She hooked her left front leg and left hind leg into my bra under my shirt and snuggled into the left side of my neck and I put the chair in “gear.” We had to cross a major intersection. It was my very first time and hers, too. We got across Mississippi Avenue and I pulled the electric wheel chair over and said out loud, “Oh thank you God.” I know Miss Lily said, “Ditto!”

We went to “Babies R Us” and I asked the cashier if I could speak to a clerk. A young lady came up to me and asked, “Can I help you?” I explained what I was looking for and that the hair on Lily’s ears is very fine so I needed a light ribbon tied in a bow. She looked at me and said, “We don’t allow dogs in the store.” I looked back at her and said, “Oh, well then Miss Lily will do her shopping elsewhere.” The girl looked at me and said, “Stay here. I will be right back.” She brought back a cute T-shirt and some bows with Velcro, which we bought.

Then we went another block to Petco. Immediately a very nice man showed me the light-weight cords, which were 12 feet long and embossed in plastic with a light clasp. He said he felt it would work just fine for Miss Lily outside the patio door. He then showed us the latest in bonnets and she picked a pink one.

We left Petco and went into Sprouts, my favorite place. We were looking for grapes. No one said, “We don’t allow dogs in here.” We found the grapes, got some blueberry yogurt pretzels, and left.

Oh dear. We had to cross that awful street again, but we made it. We have since crossed it many times, and each time we both thank God for the protection.

Lily had some problems with her mouth and she was in pain. I told Sarah, and she moved the surgery date up. I slept with Lily every night and positioned myself so she wouldn’t flop off the bed. I was so scared. Some nights I lied with her up against me and cried, “Please God don’t take her. She means so much to the residents here and me — especially me.”

Miss Lily also went to Canasta. The first game she lied across her new Aunt Carol’s lap. Between games her new Aunt Denise took her out to go potty. The second game she was with her Aunt Denise, but Mommy was always in sight. She enjoyed her evenings out.

I was so scared for her. I went on Facebook and asked friends to please pray for her. A volunteer came and got her. I kissed her and she left.

She was home at 5 that day! She made it! I could tell she was happy to see me. She was sleepy, so I held her in my arms until we went to bed, and thanked God.

Who taught this dog to bark?

Miss Lily still doesn’t know how to play. She and Murray touched noses, and I cried for happiness. She now will roll on her back on the bed in the morning for a tummy scratch and Mommy kissing her tummy. If I don’t do it … the little lady starts barking.

Who taught this dog to bark? I need my coffee!

I am looking forward to her playing with toys in the future, and not barking so much — but she is an excellent guard dog. My doctor comes on Friday, and she barks and he picks her up and hugs her. She gives him kisses.

Small black dog gives a woman a kiss.

Lily gives Garnett an appreciative kiss.

She gives EVERYONE kisses now if they just hold still, and she can wag her little tail. Her runny nose is almost gone. She has allergies along with high blood pressure, but her spirit is back!

Lily has come from shutting herself down to living a life full of love. Senior dogs have a lot to give. I have always looked for a dog at least five years old, but preferred at least seven. They are so intelligent, loving, psychic, graceful, and charming. True, they only probably stay with us for a short time, and we don’t have baby pictures or baby teeth, but we have a wonderful companion.

So if you are looking for a companion and someone to laugh with, get a senior dog. You won’t be disappointed.

Miss Lily is sleeping on my desk while I write this. Oh no, someone knocked on the apartment door close to mine.

Who taught this dog to bark?