by Toni O’Brien
A few years ago I was volunteering at Pets Alive, a wonderful no-kill animal sanctuary in Middletown, NY. I was not looking to adopt a dog after losing my previous dog to cancer, I just liked spending a day there (as I had for years). I walked some dogs, played with some cats & brushed some goats. As I walked into one of the offices to drop off a donation of collars & leashes, I noticed this tiny scrap of a dog laying in a bed. She got up & pawed at my feet. Well, as she did that she tugged at my heart.
I asked her story & was told she was wandering on the street, and was picked up & went to the local town shelter & when her hold period was up (they keep them for a specific time period to see if the owner claims a lost pet). One of the workers there reached out to Pets Alive to see if they could save her, Pets Alive said yes. My heart ached for this little one. She was a senior, had no teeth & was so severely matted when she got to Pets Alive. When they had her groomed & got all those matts off her they saw that she has no lower jaw! As I heard this, I fell more & more in love with her (she was on my lap by this point).
I’ve been involved with rescue & knew the fact that she was an older dog & considered “special needs” meant that she would be overlooked by many potential adopters. She was so tiny & frail, that I thought adopting her meant I was getting myself into a hospice situation. As sad as that thought was, I was ok with it- this angel deserved to spend her remaining days in a home, being loved & pampered.
Boy did she prove me wrong! Little Bean blossomed into a happy little pooch who got along great with my cats & came with me to work at a veterinary hospital every day. She greeted people at the front desk, she snuggled with people who were worried about their own sick pet, or on a slow day, she would just hang out with our resident office cat.
It’s been 5 years since that day she came into my life & I look back & see it as one of the luckiest days I’ve ever had. Yes, adjustments have been made- her food has to be blended into a mush that she can lap up (since she can’t chew). But so what? She is more than worth the little bit of time it takes to prepare her food. I got stairs so she can get onto my bed, the small price of them has been more than worth snuggling with her at night.
Another great thing about adopting a senior pet is what you see is what you get! No surprises with wondering what their personality is.
Don’t get me wrong- puppies & kittens are wonderful, adorable, & fun! But adopting a senior means no chewing phase, no housebreaking, etc. A friend of mine once said “adopting a senior pet is like fast-forwarding to the best part of your favorite movie”. I couldn’t agree more!