by Lee Juslin
Many senior dogs come into shelters or rescues because their owners have become ill or have died. Some are simply cruelly discarded from the only home they have ever known because they have committed the sin of getting old, and their families can’t be bothered carrying through on the bargain all dog parents make, or should make, when taking on a canine companion, i.e. to care for them throughout their lives. Dogs, cats, and all companion animals are not things. They are living beings who depend upon their humans for care and for that ultimate gift of love when they are sick, suffering, and at the end of life.
Too often, when senior dogs come into shelters, they are ignored by potential adopters and eventually euthanized despite the fact that most have lots of love left to give. When seniors come into rescue, they are not euthanized but are also often ignored by potential adopters and stay in a foster home, never finding that forever home they yearn for.Connor and Jezzie are two such seniors who were lucky to be saved by Lone Star Westie Rescue (LSRW) and even luckier to find forever homes due to the diligent work of Elizabeth, a volunteer and foster mom with the rescue.
Connor had lived his entire life with a couple in a nice home with a fenced backyard. When the couple retired, sold their house, and bought an RV to travel the country, they gave Connor to Lone Star Westie Rescue without a second thought because “they didn’t want him anymore.” Ironically, they also had a Shih Tzu which they kept.At fourteen, Connor was neutered but not up to date with his vaccinations. In addition, he had very bad teeth. LSWR has had Connor checked out by their vet and brought up to date on his vaccinations. He has also had a dental and has lost half his teeth, something that could have been avoided had he had proper care from puppyhood. Connor has no other health issues except slightly elevated liver enzymes, but the vet feels these should come down now that the infected teeth have been removed. Happily, Elizabeth says a previous adopter has reached out to LSWR after seeing Connor’s photo and hearing his story. The adoption has been approved, and Connor has recently settled into his forever home with a Westie mom who dotes on him.
Jezzie was also an owner turn-in when her elderly owner became ill and had to go into a care facility. The previous owner’s daughter would have taken Jezzie, but she has several dogs, and Jezzie wants to be an only dog in a quiet home. Jezzie, too, had been with one owner since puppyhood, but, unlike Connor, she has received good care and lots of love throughout her life. She is up to date on her vaccinations and has no health issues. Jezzie is ten but acts like a much younger Westie. She is trained and well-behaved but does love to play. Like Connor, Jezzie is one of the lucky ones as LSWR has already been able to find a good, forever home for her where she will be an only dog and get lots of attention and play time.
Although Connor and Jezzie have forever homes, Elizabeth says LSWR has other older and senior Westies looking for forever homes. If you have not thought about adopting a senior dog, consider that there are a number of good reasons for committing to an older dog.
Senior dogs are usually calmer, already trained, and quieter than puppies or young dogs. They are generally ready to cuddle with their special person. They need less attention than younger dogs that are often active and demanding, and it is usually not necessary to puppy-proof a home for a senior. In short, seniors make easy-going, very good companions.
Adopting a senior that has lost a life-long home like Connor and Jezzie, through no fault of their own, is especially rewarding. These dogs, as Elizabeth told us, have a way of grabbing your heart. Many adopters of older dogs say these dogs seem to understand and appreciate their adopter’s kindness by rewarding that commitment with lots of love and devotion.
If you are reluctant to adopt a senior because you are worried about becoming attached and then losing your new companion, remember that there are no guarantees in life. And, the rewards of taking in a senior far outweigh the fear or risk that it might be a short time relationship.
There are many seniors like Connor and Jezzie, waiting and hoping for a forever home with a human who will respect and enjoy the special love and companionship these dogs have to offer.
If you would like to learn more about Lone Star Westie Rescue, volunteer, or apply to adopt, perhaps one of their seniors. Visit them on FB: Lone Star Westie Rescue or visit their website: Lone Star Westie Rescue.
Check out more animal rescue & therapy animal stories in our Pets section.