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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jackpot & Jax were both adopted later that day
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
The love of your life could be waiting for you at your local shelter or rescue. Consider the love a dog has to offer, their constant companionship, or just a sympathetic ear. And if you truly want to know what love feels like, find yourself an older senior dog. They are experts at love.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
When you think about it, we are not so different from dogs. And as I've experienced with my aging parents in the last years of their lives, there are overlapping priorities, behaviors, and desires between older people and older dogs.
November is Senior Dog Adoption Month, and a good time to draw a few dotted lines between what I learned from parents, and my beautiful senior dog.
Why do senior dogs matter?
When you push past transparent efforts to pull on a person's heartstrings, there lies a much bigger issue, and it's serious. Old dogs are still disproportionately found at shelters. Sometimes they end up there simply because their family passed away. Other times they are discarded. I believe if people knew what they were missing they would seek older dogs out. They would care. My experiences have shown that as a dog ages, they enter a precious stage of offering valuable life lessons to us humans.
What sort of life lessons can an old dog teach you?
I'll start with a big one. Compassion. In today's world, politicians and talking heads are telling you on 24x7 news channels that every homeless person is horrible and just waiting to rob you. Yes, crime is real, but no, not every homeless person is bad, just like dogs in shelters are not bad. What is lost under these sensational headlines is the compassion and empathy for homeless people and homeless pets.
Give older dogs a chance to share their wisdom. People of all ages can learn compassion and gain empathy from an old dog. And from my experience, when you take the time to engage at their pace, your days become richer.
Simple needs win.
The older you get the less stuff you care about. Easy walks and laid back days are in order. You are at an age when you value quietude, and a warm soft bed. Savoring quality over quantity is how my dog lived her final years. She showed me every day the value of slowing down and being in the moment. Spending quiet time with her helped me be more present with my mother. I was more attuned to how my mother was feeling, and when she needed to rest.
Shorter visits, earlier nights and smaller meals make up your day. Routines become more important as we age. I loved how my senior dog knew exactly when she wanted to go for a walk each afternoon, and I loved how my dad went to the same restaurant every Thursday. They both reveled in their favorite routes. I think my mom verbalized what my dog could not about preferring smaller more frequent meals.
We humans are not so different from dogs. All of these points I bring up are things I experienced with my own senior dog, and both my parents in the last years of their lives. As I move through middle age I'm already seeing my needs and desires shifting, along the same patterns. Being around them increased my empathy a thousand-fold for life as a senior.
Man and dog are social creatures who age, and most don't want to do it alone. People and dogs respond equally to affection and compassion. We all appreciate kindness.
The positive influence from caring about, and for, older dogs is something you don't want to miss! Pass it on!
Where I lived growing up, some girls were horse crazy, some obsessed with dolls, while I was nuts about dogs. Certifiable! I have my mother to thank for the early exposure to all things dog. As an animal lover since childhood, she would take her allowance to spend on riding and grooming horses on the outskirts of Seattle every chance she got. In 1969, after her youngest child began kindergarten, my mother became a dog trainer. She focused all her free time on dog training, showing our family dogs, and other dog-related activities for almost thirty years.
My mom recently passed away. Among the things she left behind for me was a scrapbook filled with images from her entire career as a dog trainer in Monterey County. It's impressive! She not only put her heart into her work with her students, but she also stood up in public, writing several letters to the local newspaper about important issues such as dog bite prevention and puppy socialization.
I remember her teaching evening obedience classes, but with a child's memory. Looking through this scrapbook, I realize now how much she really loved teaching, and how serious she was about setting the dogs up for success. She gave frequent homework assignments, and even used our dogs for demonstrations. She told me how her last dog, Magi, was practically raised in her classes. I never made the connection before but now I see that their special bond is why she understood so well my own closeness with my dog Cleo.
It continues to amaze me the positive influence a dog can have on our life. Knowing how Cleo helped me manage my introverted nature, I can appreciate how dogs helped my mother's similar tendencies. No wonder she was never in a hurry to remarry when she had such a wonderful animal companion. As a doberman, I bet Magi also made mom feel protected at night.
I didn't realize it back then but my mother tried to instill in me, and in her students, the notion that dogs will give fearlessly to you. When you have a dog she taught, it's your responsibility to provide them with a safe and loving environment, and to respect their doggy nature.
Thanks mom! I'm grateful to my mother for the early exposure to dogs. At an impressionable age, I learned not only how to be responsible for a dog but I also got a chance to experience the power of the human dog bond. That is a gift to any child, but especially so for an introverted one.
When did you discover your love, or special connection to dogs? Did you have a parent who recognized the positive influence of dogs early on?
With my first senior dog I discovered that older dogs can help you meditate. Spending our days together, I experienced real moments of complete relaxation and peace. Was it her zen-like personality, or as an older dog did she know something I didn't?
Look at her expression! Not sure about you but my heart rate is slowing just looking at her photo...
5 Reasons Older Dogs Help You Relax
Soft snuggles rule and induce the production of endorphins
Destructive puppy phase is long past, they're way more interested in just chilling
Older dogs enjoy laid back walks more than marathon hikes or runs
They can show you what aging gracefully looks like
Feeling her absolute trust is incredibly empowering
If you are looking for a way to counter the stresses of the world, or need your own live-in yogi, consider an older dog.
As my friend says, adopting a senior dog isn't hard because you get to write the final chapter of their life. Isn't that a great approach? Rather than letting fear or sorrow motivate you, choosing to bring an older dog into your home and life in order to have your love and care be the last experiences they have is just wonderful.
You can't make old friends. Experiencing life with our own senior dog taught us a lot.
Whether you have a dog who is approaching their senior sweetheart years, or you are thinking about adopting an older dog, here are some of the life lessons an older dog can teach you:
Older dogs show you how to savor naps. No more 20 winks! Learn to let the wash of serenity soothe your spirit.
When you slow down to enjoy the sights and smells of a walk you often make new discoveries, even in your own backyard!
As they age, senior dogs love and appreciate feeling protected and nurtured as much as any puppy
None of us know what we will experience after we leave this earth, but feeling the steadfast fellowship of another being as we go forward is something we all would cherish
Living in the moment and focusing on the simple pleasures found around us each and every day is a gift, and something older dogs know well.