More people are adopting old dogs — really old dogs

When a German Shepherd rescue organization posted Elmo’s photo online last fall, it made no effort to mask the dog’s problems. He wore a cone around his neck to prevent him from licking the large open sore on his hip. His fungus-ridden feet were swollen. His graying, 11-year-old face held a pathetic, ears-to-the-ground gaze.

Steve Frost, a retired fire captain in Northern California, said he saw the photo and thought Elmo “looked like hell.” He immediately decided he wanted the dog.

Frost, 59, met Elmo through the Thulani Program, one of a growing number of animal organizations focusing on adopting out older dogs, or “senior dogs” that are typically 7 years or older. Their age makes them some of the hardest-to-place animals in a society that still adores romping puppies, although that is changing as books on elderly dogs and social media campaigns convince pet-seekers that the mature pooches often come with benefits, such as being house-trained, more sedate and less demanding of people with busy lifestyles.

Elmo while in the shelter

Elmo while in the shelter


Four months later, Frost sits by his fireplace every morning and evening and gives Elmo four pills for his various ailments, “like an old man.” On Wednesday morning, he took Elmo in for prostate surgery. Frost, who had not owned a dog in several years, is now ushering one through its final years of life, which he says he figures will be “a lot better than living in a kennel.”

Frost knows little about Elmo’s past, other than that he was turned over to an animal shelter in Los Angeles and had clearly been neglected. His ears had mites, his innards had worms, his prostate had a tumor and he was puppy-like in one key way: At age 11, he wasn’t house-trained. Now Elmo has two beds in Frost’s home and a permanent place in the back seat of his four-door Ford F-150, and the two take what Frost called “a man shower” together every few days.

“This guy has just burrowed his way into my heart,” Frost said.

Elmo is recovering from his prostate surgery, which added hundreds of dollars to the $1,000 or more Frost has paid — with Thulani funds — to get the dog in shape. Soon, Frost said, he’ll take Elmo for a ride in an airplane.

“The best you can do is make him have a great life, because his life up until this point has been hell,” Frost said. As for the end? Frost said he doesn’t focus on that. “If it didn’t hurt, you’ve got to question the love that’s involved.”


Elmo as he is today in his new home

Elmo as he is today in his new home



David Writz, 34, said he’s hoping his newly adopted 10-year-old black Lab mix, Dante — who is not a hospice case — will stick around for five years or so. Like Frost, Writz found his dog online after deciding he didn’t have time for a puppy. When the two met in person at Bob’s House for Dogs in Eleva, Wis., Writz was smitten, despite the fact that Dante was about 20 pounds overweight. Then the shelter called and told Writz that the dog would be having emergency surgery to remove an eye with glaucoma. Did Writz still want him?

“I was like, ’Obviously,’ ” said Writz, who works in a payroll office. “I figured at the very least I’d just get him an eye patch.”


Dante in the snow

Dante in the snow


Knowing that Dante won’t be around for long “is the depressing aspect of it,” said Writz, who regularly takes Dante to a local brewery, where the dog happily begs for pretzels. “But I figure he’ll be happy the rest of his remaining years.


Russell Ulrey, a Muttville volunteer who helped start the shelter’s hospice program, said he was initially worried that he wouldn’t find takers. He was wrong. Last year, Muttville adopted out 85 hospice dogs, and Ulrey said demand is higher than supply.

Caring for a terminally ill dog is “a life-changing experience,” said Ulrey, 41, but one he tells potential adopters to approach with flexibility. Ulrey, who has adopted several hospice dogs, said one lived 14 months until, one day, he charged up a hill to a favorite park and collapsed. A veterinarian euthanized him there. An Airedale mix named Ralph, in contrast, had multiple organ failure, rotten teeth and survived just a week.

“A dog like Ralph, we didn’t take him out to the park. He didn’t want to go,” he said. “We made him cozy and made him feel really loved, maybe for the first time in his life.”

These days, Ulrey and his partner, Marie Macaspac, are the parents of Chachito, a 20-pound mutt who qualified as a hospice dog because he is 16 years old, blind and deaf — exactly the kind of pet few adopters would be willing to take on. Chachito’s regime involves homemade meals of brown rice pasta and chicken, supplements for his joints, arthritis medication and lots of hanging out at the couple’s Fairfax, Calif., home.

“He has his route,” Ulrey said. “He bonks into one wall and then knows he’s going to turn right.”




Note: This has been a partial repost of an article published by the Washington Post. To read the entire article, click the following link:

More people are adopting old dogs — really old dogs




An amusing hazard of working with geriatric dogs

This dastardly deed occurred at House with a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary

Note: House with a Heart is not a foster home or rescue group. Once a dog becomes a resident, it has a loving home for life.

House with a Heart has previously been featured on Divinity’s blog:
* A Retirement Home For Unwanted Senior Pets

* Senior sanctuary dog finds a girlfriend

House with a Heart – contact links
  • House with a Heart Senior Pet SanctuaryWebsite
  • House With A Heart Senior Pet SanctuaryFacebook
  • House With A Heart Senior Pet SanctuaryTwitter

Senior dogs visit local Wisconsin Veterans Home

Many have a special spot in their hearts for hounds, and one Eau Claire, Wisconsin non-profit is using that bond to give back to the community by pairing senior citizens with senior dogs.

One senior hugs another senior

One senior hugs another senior


Katie and Gary Vorce have volunteered with Bob’s House for Dogs for six years. Once a month the couple take dogs from Bob’s House to visit seniors at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls.

Note: this is a repost from KQOW TV News

“It’s an incredible thing to do to give back to the veterans. Being a veteran myself I know it means a tremendous amount to the folks at the home here,” Gary said.

Katie said, “This maybe where we are someday and hopefully somebody will bring these loving dogs to see us when we’re here,”

The Wisconsin Veterans Home is one of 19 facilities Bob’s House visits on a monthly basis. “We’ve had some that maybe haven’t spoken that start to speak, or haven’t really communicated at all with anybody or anything. And they do, they start petting and talking to the dogs,” Katie said.

The sweet pups bring a twinkle to the eye and spark memories of pets past. “I think the senior dogs are especially great at this because they have that calm demeanor,” said Amy Quella from Bob’s House for Dogs.

Senior dogs on the lap of a Senior Resident

Senior dogs on the lap of a Senior Resident


When Bob’s House first started taking dogs to senior living home six years ago, they served about six facilities. They now have 19 on the list and do about five different visits to various homes each week.


Adopting a Senior Dog: How to Find Your New Best Friend

Older dogs are too often overlooked by potential adopters at shelters and rescues. However, those who adopt senior dogs find them to be wonderful companions–more mellow, better mannered, and quicker to adjust to their new homes than younger dogs. They can be so loving and easy-going that you may feel as though you and your adopted senior dog have been together forever.

Whether you have been considering adopting an older dog for a long time or were just recently inspired by the story of one in need, your new grey-muzzled best friend may be a hop, skip, and a few clicks away.

Note: This is a partial repost from the Grey Muzzle Organization.


Nine-year-old Olivia is available for adoption from the Young at Heart Senior Pet Rescue.

Olivia loves walks, snuggling, and lying in the sun. Find out more about adopting Olivia from the Young at Heart Senior Pet Rescue near Chicago, Illinois.

How to Find Adoptable Senior Dogs

Senior dogs can be adopted from municipal and county shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, rescues, and sanctuaries, all of which commonly list their available dogs on pet adoption websites. These websites allow you to search by age group and location, in addition to size, breed, gender, and more. They usually include a description and photo of each dog. (Most shelters and rescue organizations list dogs over 7 years of age as “senior.”) You can search for pets anywhere in the United States and Canada, with those nearest to you appearing first.

Adopt-a-Pet describes itself as “North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website,” while Petfinder claims to host listings from more 12,000 adoption groups from the U.S. and Canada. Adoptable pets can also be found with searches through All Paws, Petango, and the ASPCA’s shelter database. UK residents can try Pet Adoption UK or visit the Oldies Club website.

Note: I initially found Divinity though Petfinder who linked to Divinity’s profile on the Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network website.

If you don’t find your perfect companion with your first online search, don’t be discouraged. Listings change daily and you can also use your online searches to find the names of local organizations that tend to have older dogs available for adoption. Shelters and rescue organizations (especially smaller rescues that depend on volunteers) can’t always update their external listings regularly, so try visiting their websites or following them on Facebook. You will likely learn about wonderful local organizations you never knew were there!

You might even discover that you live near a senior dog rescue or sanctuary. The Grey Muzzle Organization provides grants to programs helping homeless and at-risk senior dogs nationwide, including many senior rescues and sanctuaries. You can find those programs–a majority of which have senior dogs to adopt and/or foster–listed by state under Who We Help.

To read the rest of this wonderful article on adopting a senior dog, click the following link

A little lady named ZONA

It’s been just over a year ago that Dr. Steve gave me the news that Divinity had cancer. Divinity died eight months ago from that dreaded disease.

Since Divinity’s death, I’ve posted about cancer, and other health topics. I’ve also posted about senior dogs being adopted, plus blind, and handicap dogs being placed in a permanent foster home so that they can live out the remainder of their days with love, and with dignity.

This post is about a very special lady named ZONA who was rescued by the Col. Potter Cairn Rescue in late April. At the time of rescue, ZONA was in horrific condition, and weighing only eight pounds.


A Very Thin ZONA

A Very Thin ZONA


It was easy to wrap one’s hands around ZONA’s waist, with room to spare.

ZONA was frightfully thin when rescued

ZONA was frightfully thin when rescued


ZONA spent days in intensive care at a vet clinic.

ZONA in intensive care

ZONA in intensive care


ZONA’s condition began to improve, and she started feeling better.

ZONA in her Favorite Spot

ZONA in her Favorite Spot


ZONA even began giving herself rubs!.

ZONA enjoying a rub

ZONA enjoying a rub


Unfortunately, this little lady has been diagnosed with cancer. A representative from Col Potter said “it is with much sadness that we report that the issue with Zona’s throat is cancer, which is in her lymph glands, ear, throat, larynx, etc. We had a biopsy done to confirm this, but the provisional report came back on Thursday as definitely cancer. She will not be having any surgery and is now in hospice care…”

ZONA with her new friend

ZONA with her new friend


However, there is a compassionate ending for this little lady. Again from Col Potter, “We are very proud to announce that our ZONA has been ADOPTED by her loving foster home and is resting comfortably until she has to leave us.”

Update: Zona passed on May 19, 2015. Rest in Peace little lady.

Adopting a Senior Dog

Divinity came into my life when she was 9-1/2 years old. I was told that multiple people had submitted paperwork to adopt my little lady; however, all of them decided that at nine years of age, Divinity was too old to adopt.

My thoughts ran counter to the other potential adopters, and the day I brought Miss Divinity home, my life became blessed, in more ways than I could possibly describe.

Reasons to Adopt a Senior Dog (from The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs)

* Senior dogs love to sleep and cuddle the day away. They enjoy a brisk daily walk, but the best part of the day is the nap. They love for you to join them.
* Senior dogs have a tremendous amount of love to give. When you rescue a senior dog, you have a best friend for life.
* Senior dogs reward your care with an unwavering devotion. Nothing matches the gratitude of a senior dog for his rescuer.
* Senior dogs have learned many of life’s lessons. They know, for example, that shoes are for walking and bones are for chewing.
* Senior dogs know that the great outdoors is for eliminating and the house is for relaxing. Your carpet will last longer with a senior dog.
* Senior dogs can learn new tricks and be valuable family and community members. They make excellent therapy dogs.
* Senior dogs often fit into your household with ease. They find the softest, warmest spot in the house and claim it for their own, but they will share with you, too.
* Senior dogs make excellent companions for everyone, especially senior people.
* Senior dogs are often overlooked in shelters and pounds. Passed over for cute and cuddly puppies, they often do not have a chance and must go to make space for more puppies.
* Adopting a senior dog saves a life!

The following links are a small sample of the many rescue organizations that help senior dogs.
Please note: There are many fine rescue organizations that are not included in this list.

* Blind Dog Rescue Alliance

* Col. Potter Cairn Rescue

* Grey Muzzle Organization

Note: The Grey Muzzle Organization is not a rescue. They do not deal with dogs themselves. However, The Grey Muzzle Organization fundraises and donates money to 501c3 organizations to help them help senior dogs.

* Hope for Paws

* Muttville

* Old Dog Haven

* Paws For Seniors

* Sanctuary for Senior Dogs

* St. Louis Senior Dog Project