Animal Rescue of Fresno: National Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Nov 2, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures

by Wendy Hunter

Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month.

Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog. —Sydney Jean Seward

Well, it finally happened. They said it would, and they were right. They told me to wait it out, be patient, and just hang in there. It was only for a few months, a couple more weeks, then three days later the worst would be over. That’s what they said. I said something back, but it really isn’t fit to print. But, just like every other bit of bad behavior I have exhibited since May, I blamed it on the weather. However, I’m happy to say, those days are finally over. Summer is GONE. Gone like that bad boyfriend who got you all worked up and overheated, and not in a good way. Gone like those last ten pounds you’ve been dragging around since February. Gone like the last breath of a politician’s speech, full of hot and heavy hyperbole. Now leave us, sizzling summer, and take your blasted heat with you. Welcome to fall and flannel shirts, fuzzy slippers, and every ding dang Pumpkin Spice flavored treat out there. Bust out the hallelujah chorus, fire up the pellet stove, and joyfully watch the trees change colors. Hmmm, I feel the need to jump in a leaf pile….

RT, one of the ARF seniors up for adoption mentioned in this article

November brings with it all the delicious bounty that is Thanksgiving. We gather with family and friends to stuff ourselves silly with turkey, smashed taters, stuffing, and way too much gravy. Wait, is that even possible? It’s that time of year when we can finally throw on a sweatshirt, make big pots of soup, and snooze under extra blankets. The days are blustery, the nights are cool, and we all trade in our flip-flops for fleece-lined boots.

In case you didn’t know it, November is also National Adopt a Senior Pet month. Hooray! That might not be very exciting to everyone, but for those of us in the rescue world, it’s definitely cause for celebration. At Animal Rescue of Fresno, we have an abundance of older dogs who are still waiting for their forever family. Now I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve heard it many times before, why would I want to adopt an older dog who’s just going to die in a few years? And I would say to you that it’s time to stop thinking like that, and start thinking out of the box. As a matter of fact, take a big leap of faith, and jump out of that confining box altogether. Broaden your horizons, and take into consideration all the wonderful things a senior dog has to offer. Oh, you don’t know? Well, grab your chenille throw, make a cup of cocoa, and I shall enlighten you. Don’t forget the marshmallows…

animal rescue

Alfred the Butler

For most veterinarians, dogs fall under the category of “senior” at about 6-7 years of age. That’s not very old, and it certainly doesn’t mean that when you take an elderly dog home, he’s going to need a sweater vest, a cane, and a pair of Depends. He’s not retiring from life, he’s just ready to start a new life in a loving home. Most ARF seniors are pretty active, like Alfred the Butler, a medium-sized boy who enjoys going on walks and snacking on sausages. If you seek something smaller, there’s Olivia, a charcoal Chihuahua mix who zooms around at bedtime like an Indy-500 car. We also have Megan, who adores a nice stroll, snuggling on the couch, and the occasional game of chase. Catch me, catch me!
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For older dogs, doing time in shelters can be tantamount to a death sentence. Many people overlook them, opting out for puppies and younger dogs. When shelters become overcrowded, senior dogs are usually among the first to be euthanized. Which means that if you adopt an older dog, you are literally saving their lives, and wouldn’t that be a great feeling to have? Animal Rescue of Fresno pulls dogs like Kaya from this kind of situation; she’s a sweet soul with a contagious smile. We also have Darla, a black and white Terrier mix that ARF pulled from a kill shelter. When it’s time for bed, Darla tucks herself in and uses her paw to pull up the blankets. Now if that isn’t Instagram-ready, then I don’t know what is.


You might be wondering why so many mature dogs end up in shelters, and the reasons vary. One of these scenarios is when a family brings home a puppy, and they already have an older dog. It’s all new and exciting, but many seniors don’t appreciate a floppy-eared youngster in their face, “Look kid, you bump my nose one more time, and there’s going to be trouble.” If things escalate and fights begin, who do you think is going to the pound? Not the new kid, I can tell you that, especially if there are begging children involved. Pleeze, dad, pleeze!


Another example is when an owner becomes hospitalized, or ends up in an assisted-living facility, where no pets are allowed. Many family members don’t want to step up to the plate and score a home for Aunt Annie’s pet Poodle. “I just don’t have the time to find that dog a home. Now let’s go to lunch and hit that shoe sale before it ends.” The most tragic reason for senior dogs to end up in shelters, is when their owner passes away. This was the case with Penny, and when she arrived at ARF, she was one frightened little girl. Now, she just wants to find a lap to call her own. After her owner passed, RT was seized by animal control, and then surrendered to ARF by a family member. RT is very eager to please, and would prefer to be the only dog in her new home. For dogs who come in from the same household, transitioning to rescue life can be a tiny bit easier when you have a pal. After Obie and Pogi lost their owner, they were also relinquished to ARF. These two friendly Lhasa Apsos are looking for a home together, as they are a bonded pair. Double the fun!


One benefit to consider, when adopting a senior dog, is that most of them have received some training and know basic commands. A great deal of them were someone’s pet for years, so they’re already socialized and are accustomed to walking on a leash. Also, many seniors are potty-trained, and that’s always a plus. If you bring home a puppy, you’ll need a good supply of potty pads, stain remover, and Febreeze. And let’s not forget the large bottle of Advil for yourself every time you catch little Rocky mid-squat. Not on the carpet!


A lot of ARF dogs are kennel-trained, including Herbie, a sweet Terrier mix who’s a bit shy of new people. When you say “bedtime,” Herbie is more than happy to jump straight into his kennel…especially if there’s a cookie involved. Despite their circumstances, some dogs never let life get them down. For example, Sandy is an apricot/beige Terrier mix, with an amazing attitude and beautiful smile. Oliver is another senior with an infectious grin, who enjoys hanging out with his pals, but would much rather be curled up in your lap. When it comes to long-haired seniors, you can almost be certain they’ve been to the groomer many times. Boots is a black Spaniel mix with luxurious locks, but he likes a close cut for the warmer months. Boots sits like a gentleman during all the brushing and clipping, then rolls over for some serious belly rubs. Ooh…that’s the spot…


It’s sad to say that some senior dogs end up in shelters because of poor planning. There’s nothing more disheartening than getting a call from a pet owner saying they’re moving and cannot take their dog. Especially when they call while the moving van is idling at their front door. There are plenty of pet-friendly rentals across the country, and ARF’s volunteer coordinator gladly points out she moved from New York to Fresno, dogs in tow. So do a bit of research well in advance because a little homework will be worth the effort. Just like every other rescue, ARF is bursting at the seams with homeless dogs. If it’s just impossible to relocate with your pet, visiting your local rescues a month or two in advance of moving greatly improves your dog’s chances of finding a new home. A rescue may have no room right now, but they may have an opening closer to your move date. This was the case with Fochy, a tiny tri-color Chihuahua mix, who was surrendered to ARF because her family was moving. This beauty has so much love to give, and would be a wonderful addition to any home. If you’re looking for a couch companion to join you while watching The Crown, than Fochy is your gal. After all, she really does deserve to be treated like a queen. You may bring me a silver tray of crumpets now…


?The litany of reasons why senior dogs are disregarded, include families moving and leaving them in the backyard, couples divorcing and neither party wanting the dog, and owners not having the financial means to care for an older or sick dog. In some very cruel cases, people bring their dog to a shelter and claim they’re a stray, thus avoiding payment of a surrender fee. Feel free to process that while my eyes roll into the back of my head.


As horrible as it sounds, a senior dog may also wind up at a shelter if it is being abused. Animal abuse is a crime, and if a good-hearted neighbor alerts the proper authorities, then they may have saved a dog’s life. It doesn’t even matter if these hapless animals are purebreds or mutts; people will toss them to the winds of fate without thinking twice. My latest crush at ARF is Lamb Chop, a precious Poodle that just wants to be held and cuddled. I cannot stress how loving this little doll is, and what an amazing pet she would be for someone who’s home all day. Somehow, she ended up at a local shelter as a stray, her once white hair matted and covered in muck. But after some TLC and a day at the spa, Lamb Chop is now a pretty little package. Hey, we’ll even wrap her up in a bow for you…

Lamb Chop

I have given you many ways that senior dogs end up scared and alone in shelters. I know that some of the information is hard to read, and I truly hope it makes you think a little differently about our elderly friends. Most of them were all once loved and adored by a family, who took them for walks, and trips to the beach, and slept in a nice warm bed. They lounged on sofas, chased squirrels off fences, and provided comfort when their owner was feeling down in the dumps. These devoted dogs protected their property, barked at the bad guys, and sounded the alarm whenever the doorbell rang. They licked away salty tears, welcomed children home from school, and sat patiently for way too many tea parties. And in return, they were rejected by the very people that supposedly loved them. They are left alone with only a million memories, and one lingering question; what did I do wrong? Nothing, my dears, nothing at all…


NOTE: If you would like to meet any of our senior dogs, please make an appointment at ARF, or check them out at We will be offering special pricing during the month of November. For a fun and festive event, join us on December 7 for our annual Holiday Boutique. There will be vendors, raffles, a bake sale, pictures with Santa, and much more. ARF has officially come of age, so bring a present for the dogs, and help us celebrate twenty-one years of saving dogs!!! If you live out of the Central Valley, check with your local rescues to see if they’re offering special Senior Adoptions prices for November.

Animal Rescue of Fresno
4545 E Dakota Ave.
Fresno, CA 93726

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.

We also have a brand new pets newsletter that is still a work in progress, but it will be letting our readers know about all of the pet and animal rescue related articles that went up that month/months so you never miss a thing. We also hope to provide some additional content and maybe even some pet related giveaways. You can use this box to subscribe!

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Wendy Hunter has been volunteering with ARF for just over a year. She grew up in Fresno and recently became an Office Assistant with Fresno County. She has been writing all of her life, though never professionally, and currently writes personalized poetry for birthdays, weddings, pet remembrances, etc.


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