• Sara

Adopting a Senior Dog

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog…” - Sydney Jeanne Seward

Taken from Petsway Calendar Photoshoot with Uturn Studios

He came to me on December 16, 2017...

After a week of trying to arrange transport, and begging his owner not to surrender him to a shelter during the holidays, he had finally arrived safely into rescue. He was a male, a senior, mostly black, and it was the holiday season, if he had been placed in a shelter, he likely never would’ve made it out alive… I picked him up in a Lowe’s parking lot, after he rode transport for 5 hours. I took a moment in the parking lot for him to relieve his bladder, snack on a treat, and put on a warm sweater before slipping back into his crate for the remaining 30 minutes of travel to our destination.

So stoic

He rode quietly in his crate in my passenger seat, sitting up watching the miles roll by like a seasoned traveler. I couldn’t help but wonder what must be going through his mind. This small senior boy whose owner drove him two hours and passed him off to a stranger who loaded him in a crate in their car and drove him from point A to the next transport stop where yet another stranger did the same. Repeatedly this scene had replayed itself that day, until he got to me, the latest stranger in his journey… I wondered if he thought this would ever end, I wondered if he missed his owner, if he was scared, or confused or afraid…

He was so stoic sitting there. When we pulled into my garage and I took him out of the crate, he showed no emotion. He took a moment to explore his new surroundings, and meet his new housemates before finding a nice warm bed in the corner to curl up and take a nap in. The thing that surprised me most, was the seeming lack of personality on his part. I was relieved that my little Holiday house guest so far appeared to be low maintenance and laid back. This made it easy to deal with my young pack who very much needed reassuring and attention with the addition of our temporary visitor.

Grade Four Dental Disease

During Holidays it can be difficult to find a foster to open up their home, it can be even more difficult to get a foster to open their home to an adult male dog, but for whatever reason, this time I didn’t really attempt to find a foster, and decided he could spend the holidays with me. I busied myself making sure his holiday would be a happy one, I prepared a stocking for him like each of my four pups, and included him in fun activities leading up to Christmas and New Years. As Christmas came and went, I began to concern myself with his vetting so that he could be prepared to find a forever home. I took a good look at his mouth for the first time and was blown away by the condition of his teeth. I had never seen such a horrible case of dental disease in my life, it looked as if his teeth were growing mold.

I was sure he was suffering in horrible pain, and was already concerned about the amount of time it might take for him to find a home as a senior dog. Now my concern was growing to fear that he might have something significantly wrong due to the state of his teeth.

Waiting for the Veterinary Hospital to open

On January 5th I loaded him into the car once again for a trip to the vet for vaccinations and his dental cleaning. Much to my surprise he shook and cried the entire 30-minute ride to the vet. I was puzzled as to why he seemed so afraid to be in the car now after acting like such a good traveler before. I dropped him off, signed the paperwork for his procedures, and waited anxiously for a phone call. I was relieved to hear that he had made it through the procedure ok, he would be ready to leave that afternoon with antibiotics and pain medication for a raging dental infection. They told me he had only lost 8 teeth, I later discovered that he only had 8 teeth remaining.

Carol my co-founder at HavaHeart Rescue picked him up from his procedure and brought him half way to my home where I met her after work that evening. She held him on the drive and said he whined the entire way, still shocking due to my previous travel experience with him, but surely, he was in pain and confused by the anesthesia. I loaded him into my car and he snuggled right in and went to sleep until we exited the interstate and hit the last mile towards my home. At that point he popped his head up and looked around, he whined a bit, but nothing prepared me for his reaction when I pulled into my garage. He jumped up and started dancing and whining until I unhooked him from the car seat, he jumped into my arms and started licking my face. This was the most personality I had ever seen from him, and soon it all began to make sense… He had chosen me, and I was his person now. The whining and anxiety in the car was because he was afraid he was being abandoned again…

The rest as they say is history… I couldn’t stand the thought of breaking his heart again after that special moment we shared in the car. I knew in that moment how much being abandoned had hurt him despite his stoic attitude. From that moment when he returned home with me, his personality has emerged, and it’s a damn cute one! He is always the first to greet me when I come home, he has an adorable little dance he reserves only for me. He is quirky, and endearing, and loves me with his whole heart. It feels like he has been mine forever. Since his adoption I have been working on building his confidence, he is much more comfortable in the car now, and his siblings are pros at comforting him. I am grateful Henley picked me to bestow the gift of his love upon, he teaches me daily to slow down and enjoy the little things, to find the beauty in the moment. Puppies are great, but senior dogs are pure magic… they only desire to love, and be loved in return. Henley and I may not have as many years together, but I promise to make all of the time that we do have as wonderful as possible, because that is what he deserves!

Henley surrounded by the love of his siblings

“I can’t think of anything more rewarding than making the last years of a dog’s life the best they can be.” - Unknown