Imagine spending your life devoted to a family. One day they decide you're too old be around anymore. They want a fun a dog. They want a young dog. They want a puppy and you're getting in the way. You're taken to a place that's loud and scary. All around you are the terrified or aggressive barks from other four-legged friends. You're given a cold concrete floor for a bed. "Five days", you'll hear someone say. Five days until what? You'll wonder. Where's my family? Strangers will pass by your cage and peer in with judging eyes. They won't stop. They'll move onto the next cage because you're "not going to live very long anyway."
Sound like a happy scenario? Does it seem like a way you'd like to spend your golden years? Somehow I doubt it.
Oh, did I forget to mention that I might get preachy in this post?
Here are a few little nuggets of wisdom I've learned:
1. Never assume because a dog is older he won't have energy to play.
2. Senior dogs have just as much love to give as a puppy, but without the hassle of potty training.
3. Senior dogs may require a little bit more "maintenance" veterinarian care, but not all of them are on their last leg, staring down a mountain of impending vet bills.
4. "I may only get a few months or years to spend with a senior dog" is poor excuse not to adopt.
5. Never assume because a dog is older that he/she won't bond with your family.
6. The old adage- You can't teach an old dog new tricks is bullshit.
Here are some of the dogs who taught me these lessons:
(We also called him Dexie-Do)
About a week after Dexter came to us, it was discovered his teeth were rotten. The infection was so bad it had eaten away at the bone in his lower jaw, causing it to fracture in two. All of his teeth had to be removed. It was a painful process and he had a long road to recovery, but he did so with flying colors.
Dexter was with us a few months before he was adopted. He spent the next two years with his new mom and a fellow dachshund brother. He was spoiled rotten and given the life he deserved. He had it made!
Earlier this year, we received word that Dexter had passed away. While we were so sad to hear that he'd crossed the rainbow bridge, it was a comfort knowing that the last years of his life were spent in home with someone who adored him for the awesome little man he was.
ANd then there was Emily...
Emily was a goof ball. Though she couldn't see that didn't slow her down. She trotted around the house, followed our other dogs outside to play, and learned to follow the sounds of our voices. She loved to bark and when she did, it sounded like a fox call. She put so much effort into it, her front legs would launch off the ground. It always made us laugh.
Though we tried our best to save the infected eye it had to be removed. But she weathered that surgery like a little trooper. After the eye was gone, she blossomed. Since she was no longer in pain, she had time to focus on being a happy dog again.
For four months Little Em-dog had a wonderful life. We found out in August that she had gone into renal failure. In December 2012, only seven months after coming to live with us, our sweet little girl crossed the rainbow bridge. My husband and I, along with her doggy brothers, sat by her side as she peacefully passed away.
Now I can hear you saying "Seven months? That's not very long. "
You're right. It's not.
But you know what? Emily spent those final months warm, well-fed, spoiled rotten, and as a treasured member of our family. That was a priceless gift not only to her, but to us as well. That alone made the pain of our loss well worth it.