I can't seem to put my finger on the reason but I am profoundly touched by senior dogs, and the people who foster and adopt them.
This is why I am sharing a series of guest posts from Karl and Jessica Schneider. They regularly share their stories and photos on the Grouchy Puppy Facebook wall. I had wanted to have one or two of their dogs be a featured reader of the monthly newsletter, but then Karl sent me the most wonderful story of their journey into the world of senior dog adoption.
Their story is perfect for anyone interested in fostering or adopting a senior dog. It joyfully demonstrates the positive influence of a dog many times over. Last week they introduced Bobo and Jameson to the family.
Today is the final part of the 3-part series, and I hope their story has resonated with you as it has with me. I look forward to your comments.
Our Senior Dog Journey is Destined to Continue
by Karl and Jessica Schneider
We learned a lot about how dog relationships develop having Jameson, Addie Maye and Schnapps. Addie and Schnapps clearly deferred to Jameson, but he never abused his power. At that time, he was just happy to be with me whether I was in my office or working outside. The three of them never really played together, and since they were all different shapes and sizes, we couldn’t take them all walking together, but they developed quite a special dynamic. As you can see from this picture, Schnapps would curl up with Jameson, between his long legs. We have several pictures like that. Jameson was just such a kind and gentle soul.
Jameson left us that August. His body just couldn’t contain his spirit any longer, and I think he knew his family was in good hands with Addie Maye and Schnapps.
For a long time after that, it was just the two of them. They were building their relationship. They were also becoming the core of the family. Schnapps is the boss, and Addie does his bidding. When he barks in a certain way, she comes running. Also during that time, Schnapps had several health issues which caused him to be away from home for many days. Addie clearly missed her little buddy when he wasn’t around.
Schnapps made it through all of those challenges and made friends wherever he went. No matter what hospital he was at, he was always the most popular guy there. One of surgeries caused him to lose part of his lower right mandible. This causes his tongue to hang out all the time. He also has only two teeth left. Of course they’re the two lower front canines. None of these challenges stops him from doing whatever he wants. He eats and drinks just fine, although very sloppily.
Addie is just a rock, both literally and figuratively. She’s had no major health issues and is strong as an ox. Her vision is poor. We believe that was due to malnutrition in her formative years.
Earlier I mentioned how they came to us, and the fact that I wasn’t totally sold on Addie Maye and Jessie wasn’t sold on Schnapps. Today, Addie Maye is my girl, and Schnapps is her little guy. That in no way means that the rest of our dogs get slighted in any way, it just means there is a special bond there.
In the spring of 2013, we found a very special group in the Chicagoland area called Young At Heart Senior Pet Rescue. They specialize in finding homes for senior dogs and cats. Through them, we found Ivey. Ivey was a shepherd mix, about 12 years old.
When they brought her over for a meet and greet, everyone got along great (Addie had really started to mellow by then). We immediately decided to share our home with her. Ivey had tons of personality, and you could tell she was so happy to have a good home with lots of love.
Unfortunately, Ivey was not with us for very long. After just three months, she went into heart failure and we lost her. It was crushing because we were just getting to know her. We’ll always remember how she would take her food bowl and toss it into the air to let us know she was hungry.
So again, it was just Addie and Schnapps. Late in November of that year, we were again contacted by the rescue that Bobo, Jameson and Addie had come from. There was a 10 year old Weimaraner, Scout, at animal control that had been there for two weeks. We took Addie and Schnapps to meet him and they all got along great. Scout wrapped his leg around my arm when I went to pet him as if to say, please take me home, which we did.
That was just over two years ago, and we can’t imagine life without our Scout. He’s quite a character and adds a whole new element to our lives. He’s very active for his age, now 12, and loves to play. When I come home from work, he comes running to the door to great me. He’s also very vocal. He gets so excited at meal time that he just barks and barks until he gets his food.
We’ve tried multiple ways to get him to stop, but with no success. It’s just part of who he is. The funny part is that Schnapps now barks with him. He had never done that before. Addie waits patiently at her bowl, while the boys bark and bark until the food is set down. It’s really an interesting dynamic.
That dynamic got even more interesting last year in March when we found Siggy through yet another rescue. Siggy’s history is a bit unclear, but there was obviously some neglect/abuse in her past. She was very skittish when she first came to us. The vet puts her age between 10 and 12. She was another one that wouldn’t eat when she first came to us. Part of that had to do with the terrible condition her teeth were in. We got her teeth cleaned up, and built up her confidence, and now she eats like a champ!
So that’s how we got to the four that we have today. It came to be a perfect mix. Two boys. Two girls. Two big dogs. Two little dogs. And as we like to say, two well behaved and quiet dogs, and two boys.
They all get along famously. Siggy sleeps between the big dogs on a pair of twin mattresses at the foot of our bed. Schnapps has his own bed on Jessie’s side of the bed. The boys make a racket at every meal time. The girls are quiet and demure, as ladies should be. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
People often ask how we wound up with four different dogs and we tell them that they came to us. They needed someone to give them the love, care and respect that an older dog deserves. That’s what we’re here for. They give us far more than they ask in return.
Editor's Note: Fostering dogs, and opening your heart, and home, to a senior dog reflects the best in human-kindness. I hope Karl and Jessica inspire you to open yourself to the positive influence an older dog has to offer.
Go to your local shelter, humane society, or a group like Muttville Senior Dog Rescue who specialize in senior dog adoption. Find out for yourself what it feels like to give fearlessly to an older dog, and to be one who writes the last chapter of their life.