Helping older dogs live their final chapter knowing they are loved

Dogs enrich our lives in a million different ways, at every age of their life, and ours. When I decided to start volunteering at a senior dog rescue, my goal was to physically help older dogs live the last chapter of their life knowing that they were loved. What I didn't realize until recently is that they are reminding ME that I am still loved. How did that life lesson sneak in here?

 

Joy on the other end of our leash @muttvillesf with Miss Pepper #adoptdontshop #❤️

A photo posted by grouchypuppy (@grouchypuppy) on

Is it the compassion I have for older dogs that inspires me to step up, and to try and make a difference in the quality of their life? I certainly know that when I get discouraged by the news, my mood is lifted after spending a few hours with a wise old face.

Offering a discarded older dog simple affection can be rewarded with a happy expression, like Pepper has in this photo. Have you ever made any dog smile? I get a shot of electricity from it!

Getting involved in the welfare of older dogs in my community is a tonic. It's a reminder that we can do something close to home, that can have a positive tangible impact. When I come home from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue each week, I feel like I've helped add to the positive column, that my actions have cancelled out some of the negativity in the world.

My Emotional Enrichment Program

Ensuring that an older dog will know they are loved during their final chapter is my goal. Every time a Muttville dog is adopted or joins a foster home, I feel so much joy. My life is enriched from the experience, and knowing they will be loved the rest of their life. 

Learn more about Pepper, the adoptable cutie shown here. Throughout August, Muttville is waiving adoption fees to qualified adopters.

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SF SPCA Launches No Prong Educational Campaign

My view is that if you use a prong collar on a dog, you are sadly missing out on everything. Your relationship with your dog isn't based on love, trust, fellowship. If you want to experience the best of being with a dog, why would you use a tool that causes pain?

As you can see from the photo, it wasn't long after we adopted our big husky shepherd that we switched from a nylon collar to a harness, because it enhanced our relationship.

Image

Once again, the San Francisco SPCA, where we found our wonderful dog, is taking the lead in helping dogs (Remember this video?) and our relationship with them with the launch of this educational campaign, What's Wrong With The Prong:

June 21, 2016 – The San Francisco SPCA has launched a campaign to educate the public about the harm caused by prong collars. Prong collars are designed to inflict pain and discomfort and can cause serious physical, behavioral, and emotional damage.

“We continue to regularly see prong collars on dogs throughout San Francisco,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, co-president at the San Francisco SPCA. “Most owners don’t want to hurt their dogs – they want to do the right thing. There’s a huge need for community education.”

The SF SPCA Veterinary Hospitals treat prong collar injuries, which range from skin irritation and punctures to spinal cord problems. Prongs can easily damage a dog’s delicate neck area. The protective layers of the skin on the under portion of a dog’s neck, where the prongs of the collar are designed to pinch, are 3x thinner than those of human skin.

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Guest Post: Our Senior Dog Journey is Destined to Continue

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 and Schnapps

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. 

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Feb. 15-17, 2016 Helen Woodward Animal Center bringing Free Animal Welfare Workshops to Sydney, Australia

Four years ago I attended a mini-ACES workshop where effective tried and true ways to find families for orphaned pets. The session was led by Mike Arms, a man directly responsible for saving millions of animals. As President of the Helen Woodward Animal Center he is an inspiration because he was the first person I ever met in animal welfare who applied business principles to pet adoption practices, and how to raise compassionate children. 

Today, the Helen Woodward Animal Center, in partnership with Blue Buffalo, is very honored to bring The Business of Saving Lives, free of charge, to Sydney, Australia.

The Center has been providing brand new ways to look at animal welfare, marketing, social media, fundraising, humane education, and more through The Business of Saving Lives workshops for over 14 years with life-saving results. In mid-February this year, The Business of Saving Lives will travel abroad for the first time and Helen Woodward Animal Center has selected Maggie’s Rescue in Sydney, Australia to host the first internationally-located training.

“I’m very excited about the upcoming workshop and its potential to decrease euthanasia rates in Australia and enhance the outcomes for our Aussie companion animals,” explained Lisa Wright, Founder and Director of Maggie’s Rescue. “The workshop is bringing unique international perspectives on companion animal welfare and management issues that we feel will create progressive and forward-thinking dialogues amongst all levels of government and key stakeholders.”

Mike Arms

The Sydney, Australia-based The Business of Saving Lives Workshop will take place at the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney between February 15th and February 17th, 2016.

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Our Senior Dog Journey continues with "Bobo and Jameson"

I don't know why 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.

It is a long story featuring many dogs, and perfect for anyone interested in fostering or adopting a senior dog. They joyfully demonstrate the positive influence of a dog many times over.

Their story is long with each dog playing a meaningful role, thus I chose to spread their stories into a 3-part series. Their story begins with Tara, and follows with Bobo and Jameson. I hope their story resonates with you, as it has with me, and look forward to your comments.

 


 

Our Senior Dog Journey "Bobo and Jameson"

by Karl and Jessica Schneider

Jameson was about 10 years old, and had been at animal control for 7 days. His time was up. Fortunately, someone that worked there took a shine to him and brought him home.  We scheduled a meet and greet, this time at the foster Mom’s home. As before, we had two dogs who didn’t immediately take a shine to each other, but Jameson definitely took a shine to me. 

We told the foster mom that we would take him home right away. She was surprised, but could see the conviction on our faces. Jameson fit right in.  They quickly became our “Grumpy Old Men”.  It was like they had been together their entire lives.  Jameson helped Bobo, and us, to move on from the loss of Tara.

Bobo and Jameson

They would antagonize each other, but there was never a cross word between them. One of our favorite stories is of the time that Jameson was laying on Bobo’s blanket in Bobo’s spot.  He was very particular about his blanket and his spot. Bobo walked up to him and stood over him as we watched.  Not a sound was made, but we’ve always envisioned the dialogue going like this:

Bobo: Jameson, you’re in my spot.

Jameson: So what, I was here first, go lay somewhere else.

Bobo:  That’s my spot, why don’t you go lay somewhere else.

Jameson:  I’m not moving.

Bobo:  I’ll sit on you.

Jameson: No you won’t.

Bobo: I’ll sit on you.

Jameson: No you won’t.

Bobo:  Yes I will.  (at this point Bobo has begun to turn his body to position himself to sit on Jameson)

Jameson:  Don’t do it.

And then he sat on him.  It was one of the funniest things we had ever seen.  There was never a growl or a bark.  We have so many great Bobo and Jameson stories that I could go on forever.

Jameson was just an amazing dog.

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Guest Post: Our Senior Dog Journey, "It began with Tara"

Maybe it's because I'm old. Maybe it's my wonderful memories of my own old dog. I don't know why 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. It is a long story featuring many dogs. It is perfect for anyone interested in fostering or adopting a senior dog.

It joyfully demonstrates the positive influence of a dog many times over. Their story is long with each dog playing a meaningful role, thus I chose to spread their stories into a 3-part series. I hope you enjoy each post, and look forward to your comments.

 


 

Our Senior Dog Journey: It began with Tara

by Karl and Jessica Schneider

Our story begins like many good ones do.  We never set out to adopt senior dogs, but shortly after Jessie’s mother passed away, her chocolate lab, Tara, came to live with us.  She was 8 years old at the time, and was the most amazing dog you could ask for. She was our first. 

Tara

Tara was an only dog with us for almost 7 years.  She really enjoyed being an “only” dog and to be honest, didn’t really get along that great with other dogs.  We were just fine as a one dog family, and didn’t really have any plans to get any more.  That was until one year when she was almost 14 and our neighbors asked us if we could dog-sit for their dog, Lilly, while they went on vacation for a week. 

Tara had gotten mellower in her senior years so we said yes with some trepidation. We were surprised at how well they got along and even played together.  It wasn’t long after that experience we started looking for a companion for Tara. 

We didn’t have a lot of guidelines.  We just knew it should be an older dog, and not a younger more active one.  Tara enjoyed her nap time and quiet time, and we didn’t want to take that away from her.  One day while I was out of town for work, Jessie texted me a picture of a dog (Bobo) that was featured in our local newspaper.  He was a 12 year old chocolate lab boy, very close in size to Tara.  We called the rescue that was sponsoring him and set up a visit at our home.  I wouldn’t say that Tara and Bobo hit it off right away, but she also didn’t give us any signs that she didn’t like him either.  As his foster mom was telling us his story, and hers, we realized that he needed to stay with us right then.  I think his foster mom was a little surprised by our reaction and tried to talk us out of it, but we both knew that he needed to stay with us.

This is really where our senior dog rescue story begins. 

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Maryland house, volunteers with big hearts, create sanctuary for senior dogs

In the movie, It's a Wonderful Life, you learn that every time you hear a bell ring, an angel gets its wings. Wouldn't it be nice to believe that every time a person or group chooses to help homeless dogs, especially senior dogs, that it is also a sign of something wonderful happening? Their compassion is a sign that the world at large, that humanity, is choosing to do the right thing, not because they are coerced but because it is the right thing to do. They are proof that not everyone is consumed by greed or narcissism, as much of the media would have you believe.

There are people and groups who understand that the compassion we show towards senior dogs will have a positive influence on the world. Watch this video about a Maryland retirement home for senior dogs, and be inspired:

 

 

 Via National Geographic

Nearly two-dozen dogs are spending their golden years at House with a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary. Sher Polvinale and a team of volunteers at this Gaithersburg, Maryland, home spare no expense and care for the dogs' every need—from washing and feeding to medications and vet visits.

Click here to learn more about House with a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary:
 
 

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The Five Myths of Having a Senior Dog

Three years ago, while looking across the room at my old dog, I had five fast responses to anyone fearful of loving a senior dog pop into my head. Reading through them this weekend, I still think they hold up and make good examples of why you should never let your fear of heartbreak prevent you from having an old dog in your life.

After our Cleo passed late last year, I have had many encounters with older dogs and each time they made me laugh and shake my head at these myths. 

Some people think having an old dog is the opposite of fun. I beg to differ with them. 

Check out these five myth-busters:

Myth 1. They're boring.

Fact: How can you be bored when you have this face around keeping you in stitches?

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

Myth 2. They're expensive.

Fact: We eat the same foods as she does, only minus the kibble. Even her pills are delivered via high-grade liverwurst that we share.

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Coco the Pit Bull offers the best medicine for her truck driver papa

What's wrong with Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)? Because if Coco the Pit Bull and her papa and BFF Chris had not found themselves in Kansas City, Missouri when Chris collapsed, their story could have had a very different, and tragic ending.

image from www.huffingtonpost.com

From the Huffington Post:

Truck driver Chis Price was worried about more than just his health when he collapsed in Kansas City, Missouri, while out on a haul last month. 

Price, whose home is in Tennessee, was even more concerned about his driving buddy: a sweet white pit bull named Coco -- who'd been with him all over, nonstop, for seven years, and who was taken away by animal control as Price himself was carted off in an ambulance.

There was good reason to be nervous. An estimated 3,000 pit bulls are killed in animal shelters across the country each day.

Read the rest of their amazing story 

Visit Kansas City Pet Project on Facebook.

Coco and Chris' story is a good example of why we need to end breed specific legislation. It does more harm than good.

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Angus the first SFFD search and rescue dog

Dogs will put their lives on the line for us humans, and it never ceases to amaze me. With my own dog, I did not take for granted her willingness to protect and watch over me. I see search and rescue dogs and just want to give them a treat, a pet or anything that is allowed, because as you can see from the photo here, when these dogs are on duty you have to respect their boundaries.

www.grouchypuppy.com

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Senior dogs give love even when you don't ask

Last weekend, my husband and I were walking in Napa before breakfast. As we passed by the fairgrounds, I slowed down to watch a man slowly walking by the entrance with his pair of Shelties. They were beautiful dogs and in the distance their fluffy bodies reminded me of my beloved Cleo. I smiled at them and seeing our interest, the man made his way in our direction. Nudging my husband, I whispered to slow down. Hopeful that he was friendly and wanted to engage with us, I was thrilled when the stranger steered his dogs directly towards us.

He told us how he noticed our interested faces across the parking lot. I half-listened to him and immediately spoke directly to the dogs. They were soft and silky, playfully sniffing us and leaning in for some pets. They swirled around our legs, very happy and comfortable with our affection. The man told us the dogs were seven and nine years old but from their energy level you'd never have guessed. 

image from upload.wikimedia.org
How beautiful are Shelties?     Photo credit: Jenny2513


That pair of senior dogs knew what they were doing. These Shelties were giving us some much needed love, even though they didn't have to. You know, it's not the first time I have noticed that older dogs seem to know stuff that we don't, like when to offer affection to passersby. It happened the week prior as I walked to the store in my neighborhood.

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Paying it Forward: 5 Ways To Ease Your Grief After Your Dog Passes Away

It wasn't easy to see my old dog pass on ahead, but I am determined to focus on the good that came from our time together. She inspired hundreds of good deeds over our nine years together. We raised money for local senior dogs during her #Cleo8 homecoming day celebration. She inspired a major pet company to donate an inventory scanner to a pet food bank. Throughout her life with us, Cleo's very presence walking down the street inspired smiles from children and adults alike.

Taking a page from Cleo's playbook, I wanted to share five ways that we tried to give fearlessly following her passing. Helping other dogs and dog lovers feels like something Cleo would want us to do. She came from a rural county shelter and knew hardship before us. As a part of our family Cleo knew love, good food, a healthy environment and a warm bed. Why not pay it forward?

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

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Our final gift: Why we chose in-home euthanasia for our dog

We were lucky. Though we still had to say goodbye to our beloved dog, being able to let her go while in a quiet home setting gave us as much peace as it probably did her. We had a great veterinarian but driving in the car, and any amount of time at the vet stressed our dog out, from day one. When she was younger, driving in the car 20 minutes meant she'd get the chance to spend an hour or two at the beach, one of her favorite places. We felt that type of stress was a fair trade, and I think she did too. Everyone, including our dogs, deserve the chance to die with dignity and in peace. 

  image www.grouchypuppy.com

Sometimes tragedy strikes and a peaceful ending isn't an option, but if you had the chance to give your dog the opportunity to pass on, from their own home, would you take it?

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Spotlight on Senior Dogs: Older dogs are worth every moment!

LilysLegacy.orgLook at this sweet old face. Sunny is an adoptable dog at Lily's Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary in Northern California. This is a rescue and sanctuary that we've been following for a couple years now. [Loving Old Dogs] Like San Francisco's Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, they help older dogs find new homes or have the chance to live out their days in a loving home environment rather than be discarded and forgotten in a shelter.

I believe both organizations are important to support because how we treat our aging population, this includes our companion animals, reflects back on us as a society.

I've been writing about the many valuable life lessons that my old dog has been teaching me over the years, and when I see that people continue to discard a dog just when they've matured into the best part, I'm grateful these two nonprofits exist. 

Imagine sitting with your favorite grandparent, enjoying their steady support and love when you needed them. Now look at Sunny and imagine the love and quiet joy an older dog can bring to a family. 

If our dog Cleo taught us anything, she showed us that old dogs are worth every moment of love and ounce of heartache...

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