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 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.
Bobo was dirty, smelly, had bad teeth, had a stiff rear leg from an accident that was never addressed and had three accidents in the house the first 24 hours that he was with us. We got him cleaned up, but for the first three days he wouldn’t eat. We took him to our vet and had him checked out. Overall, he was in good shape. He just needed some love and care, and our vet, who was very practical, said, “Don’t worry, when he’s hungry, he’ll eat”.
Around day three, Jessie was cooking some chicken and rice, and this really got Bobo’s attention. It quickly dawned on us that Bobo was not accustomed to dog food, but rather had been eating people food. We started to make him a diet of chicken and rice. From there on we had no more problems getting him to eat!
Bobo was quite an amazing character. Once his true personality came out, he did something to make us laugh and smile every day. To this day, we still tell “Bobo Stories” as if they just happened yesterday. He had such a huge impact on us and helped us to see that there are many senior dogs out there that need good homes and have so much to offer.
We adopted Bobo in February of 2009, and in October of that same year, we lost Tara. She was almost 16 years old, but you never would have known it. She was active and playful until the very end.
Even though Tara and Bobo only spent less than a year together, it was obvious that her loss affected him deeply. We would find him in our dark dining room just staring into the corner. It affected us deeply as well, as she had been a part of our family for her entire life. About a month after her passing, the rescue that helped us to find Bobo, told us about a senior chocolate lab boy, Jameson.
Next Wednesday, part two tells the wonderful story of Jameson, and introduces Addie Maye and Schnapps to the family...