Older dogs show us how to focus more on the present

Having a senior dog in your life is the best. Mine helped me focus on the important things and to forget about the nonsense, the noisy distractions. Thanks to my dog, I found myself caring more about her wellbeing than any reality show on television. I spent more time searching for savory recipes to make her special dog treats with. She made the distracting noises from our busy city streets fade into the background.

She isn't physically with me now, during this disturbing presidential election season, but guess what? I found a calming environment at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. These oldsters are exactly the right balance to the outlandish behavior on television and online.

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Being with my older dog brought calm, and the rotating crew in the doggy are doing an amazing job at pinch-hitting for her! All I have to do is pop my head over one of the half-doors and say, "Good morning puppies! How did you sleep? Who wants to go for a walk before breakfast?"

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Empathy and Compassion: The role older dogs play

The roles dogs play in our lives continues to grow and evolve. Millions of dogs are simple companions and best friends, while thousands serve as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and guard dogs. Their jobs often change over time, but one constant force they retain is their unique ability to positively influence us.

I have experienced the benefits from having dogs in my life at all ages. As a young girl, I felt a kinship with our family dogs. They were easy to understand, and seemed to understand me too. In all honesty, I felt closer to them emotionally than my own human siblings.

I especially remember spending quiet afternoons with Scooter, the patriarch of our crew of dogs. He taught me a lot about being still, and the power of empathy. That is one reason why when I volunteer at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, I love seeing the influence of the older dogs on visiting children.

"You don't seem like a Muttville dog, you are like a little puppy," she whispered.

Image from www.grouchypuppy.com

A wonderful role these older dogs play is that of wise teachers. They are helping us raise compassionate children, often by just being themselves. The kids are learning empathy from their exposure to the world from the eyes of an aging dog.

Many city kids can't have pets. Their time spent quietly petting, or taking care of the senior dogs at Muttville allows them to experience the effect of caring for an elderly parent or grandparent. These dogs helps them see what it means to care about a live animal, rather than a stuffed one.

I've witnessed many moments, like the one above, when a young child reaches out selflessly to give one the senior dogs some gentle affection and appreciation for sharing their time. These dogs in the doggy loft are not caged so they are free to walk away from anyone, even a sweet little girl.

What is so wonderful being around these older dogs is their willingness to open up to the sounds of love.

They don't hold grudges for the turn in their life that caused them to end up at Muttville. Instead, they seem to grab the opportunity to show all of us how to let go, savor the little moments, and enjoy a quiet cuddle.

If you give them a chance, every older dog will give you their all. They are professionals at showing people of all ages what's so special about having an animal companion, and why senior dogs rule. 

Does your community have a program where young kids can experience what it means to care for and about older dogs? How about older pets in general? 

 

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My Muttville Moment: Old dogs understand loyalty

When I look at an old dog staring out of the window at the doggy loft, I see someone who understands loyalty. The older dog has experienced what it feels like to be a part of a team. They know what it means to be able to depend on someone. I sense they are feeling the loss and it breaks my heart. My compassionate response is to give that old dog all the love and affection they can tolerate, to show them that they weren't wrong to trust us. I feel compelled to step up and show them their loyalty is valued, even more than love.

Image from www.grouchypuppy.com
Mandy

Mandy is an old dog at Muttville who understands loyalty. I took her out for a walk one morning and her focus wasn't on peeing, it was finding a certain someone or their car. We race-walked down the street pausing at every, single, parked car. She determinedly sniffed each door and tire before moving down the row. I asked her repeatedly to please go potty, because it was nicer for us all if she did her business outside, rather than in the doggy loft among the other dogs. She ignored me. She had priorities.

I don't know many cocker spaniels but I do recognize loyalty, and what it means to be part of a team.

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My Muttville Moment: Big old dogs know about grace

When I spend time with old dogs I always seem to come away with a new wisdom or reminded of a forgotten lesson. Recently I sat with a big old girl named Bridgett. Her quiet watchful gaze followed me around the room until I stopped mopping and came over. She had fit her large shepherd body onto a piece of AstroTurf along the far wall. I couldn't tell if she missed laying on grass or wanted a little private space.

Since her eyes were open I decided to go visit. I'm so glad I did. Bridgett lifted her sugar face up and calmly gazed at me. I took that as a green-light and sat down on the floor. We chatted.

Image from www.grouchypuppy.com
Bridgett

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My Muttville Moment: I see you, you old dog!

When you look at an old dog, what do you see? Do your eyes go straight to any obvious deformities or unusual features, the grey muzzle, or white whiskers?

Is your focus on what they look like, or who they are? When I see an old dog my impression is built from the ground, up.

Starting at their feet, I'm checking out their mood and posture. Does their body language tell me that they want my company, touch, or attention? My first impression begins with their attitude. Like older people, old dogs don't have time to waste on stuff they are not in the mood for, and will not pretend.

Image from www.grouchypuppy.com
Coco Chanel

If they prefer a nap to a walk, you know.

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How do you do good for vets with PTSD and shelter dogs?

Military veterans need our support. Homeless dogs need our compassion. An Arkansas veterinarian is using his experience and position to help both.

What started as a chance encounter between dog and veterinarian has developed into a close-knit relationship and mission to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to get unconditional love from a service animal.

Dr. Zepecki besides being a veterinarian, is a veteran himself. In 2008 a dog came into his practice with severe wounds. The vet cared for the dog for many months and eventually adopted him. It was only while treating the emotionally traumatized dog that Dr. Zepecki realized he himself had been dealing with PTSD for decades with the help of his canine patients.

About seven years ago he started the process of finding out he could help fellow veterans and rescue dogs. He created an association that provides service dogs for veterans. They have helped almost a hundred veterans find service dogs so far.

Watch the video below, then read the inspiring story here.

 

Source

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The positive influence old dogs have on managing our own aging process

When my dog got into her old age years, I noticed. I listened to her creaky joints when she would get up from a nap. She would step out or off of one of her beds, then slowly stretch her long Husky Shepherd legs out behind her, until her toes flared. My eyes went wide in surprise, the first time I heard her joints make small popping noises like my toes do sometimes.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

I had more firsts with her the next several years. Looking back now, I'm seeing her movement into old age through changes in my own body. Previously I had seen my 80 year old mother in my dog's aging process, now I see myself.

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New British Columbia SPCA ads celebrate how companion animals bring out the best in us

Some people are born animal lovers. My mom described herself as a "horse crazy" child. I have loved everything about dogs for as long as I can remember. 

Minding our family's dogs brought out the caregiver in me, and taught me responsibility. Tender moments together when they got older gave twelve year old me a chance to learn compassion and empathy.

Experiencing the special connection that's possible between a person and a companion animal is something unique, and for many, life changing. 

This year, the British Columbia SPCA is celebrating that special human-animal bond with three different ads...all heartwarming and lovely.

image from www.kelownanow.com

“Our animals don’t see our flaws or shortcomings- they love us as we are, unconditionally, which is a pretty amazing gift,” said BC SPCA general manager of community relations, Lorie Chortyk.

We cannot deny how dogs and cats have moved into a very special place in our lives. Honestly, given the stresses in the world today, companion animals play an even greater role. They can provide a necessary, healthy balance to what worries us. 

This unique bond we share is fascinating, made more so, because of the increase in scientific studies being done. People want to know how dogs work, how they understand the world, how they learn, and why do most of us in the western world consider them as family.

However, if we're already a dog lover, I think most of us are happy with our human and dog symbiosis. We don't need scientific research to tell us why we feel so good when we cuddle on the couch together, or play ball at the park. We only care that our best friend is healthy, and content.

What do you think?

Source

Watch all three videos > here < via BC SPCA.

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Why Caring For Old Dogs Matter

Maybe it's my own old bones talking, but I care a lot about senior dogs. At first, I thought my feelings were due to having my own old dog at home but she passed away almost two years ago. Then I thought it was because of my own rapidly aging parents, and watching their approach to life. But with all of them gone now my caring about old dogs hasn't diminished at all, in fact I care even more!

Why Caring For Old Dogs Matter

When I spend time with an old dog, my empathy for their lumps and bumps is real. If I see one dealing with poor vision, I find myself cleaning my smudged glasses in solidarity. Take an old dog for a walk, and savor their slow and measured pace. It's the perfect balm to impatience.

Bonus from Volunteering

When an old dog smiles with joy it feels like you just won a special prize. If one is feeling grouchy because of an ache, you'll find out fast. Old dogs are very present with their emotions. Spending time with them each week, I benefit from these mini-lessons and go home a better person.

When we care about, and for, old dogs, our lives are enriched as much as theirs. It's that simple. 

Why Caring Four Old Dogs Matters

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Veterans with visible and invisible injuries benefit from service dogs

Hey, the dogs with webbed feet were ringers! Service dogs who work with Invictus athletes had an informal dog paddle swimming contest to end this year's games in Orlando, Florida. 

 

The 2016 Invictus Games took place May 8-12 in Orlando. Prince Harry, himself a veteran, created the Games in 2014 for servicemen and women who have suffered life-changing injuries, both visible and invisible. The prince was on hand for the dogs' impromptu event.

I'd like to see the federal government do more to help our veterans suffering traumatic brain injuries, depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts: Almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans. As many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans. 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan.

We have too many veterans suffering, and dying, who deserve our help after serving our country.

We already know pet dogs play a valuable role. Mine uncovered missing items, made me feel protected, got me out of the house, introduced me to my neighbors, listened to my problems, and made me laugh when I was feeling blue.

Imagine what highly trained service dogs are capable of, and the immense benefit they can offer our injured servicemen and women?

Learn more:

Dogs and PTSD - PTSD: National Center for PTSD

New studies focus on service dogs and PTSD - Military Times

Over a Quarter-Million Vietnam War Veterans Still Have PTSD - Smithsonian Magazine

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Be Kind to Animals Week 2016 and Giving our Children a Humane Education

This week the American Humane Association invites us to be kind to insects, rodents, bats, and all animals! As a self-declared dog lover, I find that this week is a wonderful opportunity to focus on young adults and children getting a compassionate and humane education. Raising compassionate children is a key to improving the lives of animals, and reducing the homeless pet population.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com
When you welcome a roaming dog while on vacation..

You don't have to get a puppy for your child to teach them about life, or to build empathy. Exposing young people to senior dogs is a great way to have important conversations about life, compassionate care, and respect for our elderly citizens. 

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Animal Advocacy and Adopt a Shelter Pet Day: Spotlight on Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue is a special kind of shelter. Maybe it's the old dogs, or maybe it's the volunteers, but when you are inside Muttville, your life gets brighter. Mine has.

Helping write the last chapter of an older dog's life feels amazing.

Let me tell you, it's easy to advocate for animals when you've a senior dog trying to snuggle up next to you. I've been volunteering a few hours each week at Muttville and these old dogs don't pull any punches. They are professionals! Muttville mutts either boldly demand you give them affection, or purposefully seek out a quiet blanket in a peaceful corner.

Marvelous Muttville

Thanks in large part to their continued focus on education, and successful use of social media, Muttville has had an explosive growth in the last four years. In 2012 they also signed a lease for their building, giving Sherri, the founder and executive director, her house back.

Though she still has several dogs with her on any given day, the doggy loft at their home on Rescue Row and the many foster homes allows Muttville to help many, many more senior dogs.

Muttville has about thirty dogs in their new building on Alabama Street, with another 80-90 in foster homes. What is unique is that the few kennels you'll find in their headquarters all have open doors. The dogs are free to sleep wherever they want. 

image from www.grouchypuppy.com
Jackpot & Jax were both adopted later that day

Animal Advocacy

Of the hundred Muttville foster homes, 70% have cared for 10 or more dogs. That says a lot about how committed you become to advocating for senior dogs after helping your first. Older dogs shut down the most in a loud and crowded place like a city shelter. This contributes to their depressed and quiet demeanor, and doesn't help their adoption chances.

The open doggy loft and family of foster homes allows Muttville mutts to blossom and show their true loving nature.

Choosing to adopt a shelter pet can have wonderful consequences for both of you. When you decide to adopt a senior dog, you open yourself to a world of love. When kids care for animals, they learn empathy and compassion. 

Promoting dog adoption, advocating for senior dogs and championing well-run shelters is something we can do every day, not just once a year, don't you think? Join me!

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Need a reason why old dogs matter? Here's five...

Puppies are very cute, but I don't want one. Never have. Even when we had a litter of puppies during my childhood, they were sweet creatures but they couldn't hold my attention like our adult dogs. The older dogs kept my interest because I wanted so much to understand them better. I craved their respect and trust. The puppies were sweet blobs of unformed clay, while the adults were sharp intelligent animals. 

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

Fast forward a few decades, and my Shepherd Husky refreshed my memory of why old dogs matter, and how they positively influence your life.

Now, volunteering at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, the mutts are sharing many reasons why we should care about them, and for them, more than ever.

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Feb 29 Senior Dog Advocacy NonProfit, Grey Muzzle Leaps Forward With Redesigned Website

Having experienced the love and companionship of an old dog, I appreciate the increased support senior dogs, and those who love them, are getting.

One nonprofit committed to these wonderful sugar faces is The Grey Muzzle Organization. They provide funding and resources throughout the United States expressly for programs designed to improve the lives of at-risk senior dogs.  

Since 2008, Grey Muzzle has provided over $500,000 in grants for senior dog programs to more than 54 nonprofit organizations in 27 states! Today, thanks to donors and other support, Grey Muzzle will be leaping into the new year with a fully redesigned website launching February 29, 2016!


greymuzzle.org

Check out these GreyMuzzle.org new features:

  • New graphic
  • Easy to navigate
  • Optimized for mobile use
  • Inclusive viewing choices for people who have vision issues and/or dyslexia
  • Lots of new Meet the Dog stories and photos - real life happy tales made possible by the generosity of our donors
  • Great senior dog health resources

Visit the Grey Muzzle Facebook page for more information, and how you can win prizes during the launch party celebrations. 

About The Grey Muzzle Organization 

We support senior dog programs such as: medical care for adoptable dogs, in-home hospice, Seniors for Seniors adoption (senior citizens adopting senior dogs), Animeals (like Meals on Wheels), Bed Fund (we supply orthopedic bedding free to 501(c)(3) shelters and rescues for senior dogs), educational materials, and much more.

We envision a world where no old dog dies alone and afraid. We believe every senior dog deserves to live out their golden years, months, weeks or even days in places of love, security and peace. We believe old dogs contribute positively to our quality of life and have much to teach us about patience, respect, responsibility, loyalty and unconditional love.

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