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Happy Tail: There are many plusses to adopting a senior dog

With senior dogs, you know what you're getting. Peg Schaeffer gives heartwarming stories of Wolfie, Sydney, Buster, and Dodger. Click on headline for choices to adopt: Laddie and Roy.
The next earlier Happy Tail: Happy Tail: Happy hunting? Posted Sunday November 17, 2013

By Peg Schaeffer

At Sugarfoot Farm Rescue have several older dogs that would make great pets. There are many plusses to adopting a senior dog. You don't have to housebreak them. They are past the chewing stage. They aren't as active so they don't require as much exercise as a puppy or a young dog.

Don't get me wrong. They're not a dog that only eats and sleeps. They are quite capable of being loving companions. The only thing for you to do is provide a loving home for them to live out the rest of their Golden Years.

Defining 'senior dog' depends on size and breed

So what defines a "senior" dog? The life span of a dog depends on its size or breed. In general, the larger the breed or size of the dog, the shorter the life span. The smaller the dog or the breed, the longer the life span. Dogs are considered "senior" in the last 25% of their lives. 13% of the large breed dogs live to be over 10 years of age and 38% of the small breed dogs live to be over 10 years of age. So once a dog is 7 or 8 years old it's time to call it a "senior".

Senior dogs are perfect for older people

With an older pet you know what you're getting. And when an adopter comes along to take them in and give them comfort in their later years, they're so grateful they treat you like a hero. They are perfect for older people since they're gentler and less interested in romping around. They are also comforting pals for children because they are unwavering in their devotion. Senior dogs have had a home and they want one again. It isn't fair that these wonderful souls who've been loved for so long are suddenly ripped out of what they've always known to end up living unwanted at a shelter in a noisy, frightening, daunting place with only 2-5 days of hope left before they are euthanized.

Wolfie's story: He got to die in a home, rather than a noisy shelter

A few years ago there was a dog at the shelter named "Wolfie". He was an owner surrender because he was "too old". They left him and took home a puppy. We had a scheduled transport for 40 dogs from the shelter to be taken to the CT Humane Society to be placed. Wolfie was scared and confused at the shelter and since he was going on the CT transport I brought him home to stay. He was distraught to have been abandoned by his family. He refused to eat and just slept. Keith and I took turns staying with him. I even slept on the floor next to him so he wouldn't think he was alone. In just a few days he died of a broken heart. He never had the chance to go to CT for a new life. The only comfort I could find in his death was the fact that he died in a home, with 24 hour care, rather than in a noisy shelter on a cold cement floor. My hope is that when his former owners become seniors their children abandon them like they did to poor Wolfie.

Sydney: He's a deaf, but capable, Red Heeler

I always talk about Sydney, my senior Red Heeler. He's 13 years old and I've had him for 11 years. Sydney is blind, has only one eye, and is deaf but is still healthy. He knows how to use the pet door to go outside. He manages to maneuver everywhere in the house and he never misses a meal. Whenever he knows we're eating he finds his way to the kitchen table and will bark until he gets something to eat. Whenever we go to Burger King or McDonald's Sydney gets the pickles. He also knows where I keep the treats in the cupboard and will manage his way to the door and bark for a begging strip.

We have another Red Heeler, Dodger, whose owner surrendered him to a shelter when he was 8 because he was "too old". Australian Cattle Dogs are known for their longevity; they're too tough to die, so Dodger's life was probably only half over. He's been with us for 2 years without any health problems.

Buster was always almost adopted, until age discrimination reared ugly head

We had a dog named "Buster" here. His owners surrendered him because they had moved and they weren't allowed to have a dog that weighed more than 20 pounds. Buster was a St. Bernard/Labrador Retriever mix and weighed almost 100 pounds so he exceeded the weight limit. He lived at the parents' house for a short time but preferred to lie by the door and was always in the way because of his size. He was 12 years old and had 3 legs. I don't know how many times people would come and fall in love with this huge black dog who would sit by their side and offer his paw for a handshake. As soon as they heard he was 12 no one would want him. He's too old. We don't want a dog that's going to die.

There's no guarantee how long any dog will live. Things happen and they don't come with a warranty. Even though Buster was 12 he could still have 4 or 5 good years of life left. He's still entitled to a happy ending.

Never give up hope: Buster now has a great home; for true love, age no barrier

Last week I received a phone call from a woman who had seen his photo and description on the Internet and wanted to meet him. She came on a rainy day and was greeted by the dogs with muddy paws and dirty hugs. With her and Buster it was love at first sight. She and her fiance lived on a farm. She commented that he would take up the whole couch and then laughed. I could tell it was the home Buster needed. She adopted him and he trotted after her with his tail sailing in the air as they headed to her car. And I swear he had a big grin on his face. So if you're considering adopting don't overlook a dog because it's a senior. Just because they're older doesn't mean they're not entitled to happiness the last years of their life. - Peg Schaeffer, President and Founder, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue

Contact us if you would like to help.

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue,
860 Sparksville Road
Columbia, KY 42728
Home telephone: 270-378-4521
Cell phone: 270-634-4675

This story was posted on 2013-11-24 08:30:52
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Laddie would make a great family pet

2013-11-24 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Shaeffer. Laddie is senior dog for adoption Laddie is a senior smooth coat Collie mix and is available for adoption now. He is neutered and micro-chipped and up to date with his vaccines. He's an easy going, happy dog and would make a great family pet. - PEG SCHAEFFER, president and founder, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728. Email: Phones 270-378-4521 and 270-634-4675.

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Roy, who never meets a stranger, available for adoption

2013-11-24 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo By Peg Schaeffer. Roy is a senior Black Lab available for adoption. He is getting arthritic but still gets around. He loves people. We took him to the vet last week and he made sure he introduced himself to everyone. He needs a family to love. - PEG SCHAEFFER, president and founder, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728. Email: Phones 270-378-4521 and 270-634-4675.

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