November is Adopt-a-Senior-Dog month, which is an idea I can embrace. I’ve written about our pets in the past. They’ve all been remarkable, but none of them have given us more joy than the old dogs.
We’ve never bought a critter. Often when our dogs chose us, they were in the late autumn of their lives.
We all love puppies and rightly so. They are beautiful, fun loving, and vivacious. With a little care and a lot of love, they can thrive for years.
But caring for older dogs can be challenging. Their bodies change and often need more attention to keep them healthy. And in the end, it’s painful losing an old friend but I believe you will cherish the time they spend with you.
I think most people do right by their pets, but there are some who can’t be bothered with frail or sick animals. So, they dump them and move on.
Several years ago a family with small children moved into the place up the road. They had two older dogs that they had owned for a while. In the evenings I could hear the little girl stand on their front porch and call, “Charlie, Charlie, come home.” A while later a dust mop of a dog would amble up from somewhere behind the house and play with the little girl until it was her bedtime.
We met the family, but they kept their distance from neighbors. They were here for over a year before moving off suddenly. They left their two dogs.
We assumed that once they were settled at their new place that they’d come back for their dogs, but that didn’t happen. It became obvious after several days that they would not return.
Jilda put bowls of food and water at the edge of our yard so the dogs wouldn’t go hungry. Charlie spent most afternoons at the end of our drive looking off into the distance. I can imagine that he wondered where his friend had gone, and why she left him behind.
It took over a year for Charlie and Dawg to adopt us. They probably were thinking, “These people are old, and it’s going to take some time. I hope they’re potty trained.” I could write a book about those two.
Another dog that came to live with us looked like a full-blooded Labrador retriever that we named Wheezer. He was an elderly dog with health issues. Instead of euthanizing their old friend, which would have been the humane thing to do, his former owners dumped him on the road near our house.
He only lived a few months, but his last days were comfortable with plenty to eat and a warm place to sleep. He died in the doghouse in the backyard and we buried him along with our other beloved pets we’ve lost through the years. Wheezer was one of the most loving dogs we’ve ever cared for.
Many of the older dogs that lived with us weren’t much to look at, but they had a lot to offer. They were all great with small children and they seemed to know intuitively when either Jilda or I weren’t feeling well.
All of our old dogs were gifts, and I admire anyone who opens their home and hearts to a senior dog.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Changes is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.