Thoughts on appreciating the similarities between old dogs and aging parents

Ever since my own dog became elderly and went through her final journey along the aging process, I’ve written about senior dogs and their similarities to elderly people. (Why do older dogs sleep so much?) During her final years, she helped me learn valuable lessons that I was able to apply to my relationships with my parents before they passed away. (Letting go, being grateful, and seeing an old dog as a bridge)

I recently read a column called, “Care of aging dog, much like that of elderly parent.” This in particular stood out to me;

In Elder World, we told each other, “If they were dogs, we could be merciful and end this.” Now it is a dog, and we can’t pull the plug. Which makes me think of the old people again, and how insistently the will to hang on demands respect. And another thing they taught me: that although caregiving feels endless, it always ends, though the empty space after doesn’t.

Carol writes that she “couldn’t have imagined that senior dog care would prove a weird resurrection of the demands of elder care” and let me say, that is valuable insight.

I think of this when I volunteer at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. I bring up the similarities between elder parents and the sugar faces with other volunteers, fosters and potential adopters. Managing expectations are so important.

I’ll do everything that I can to give a dog the best chance at a wonderful life. Telling my stories about how living with an aging dog gave me insight into my father’s diabetes, and my mother’s fierce need for routine, so that other’s realize the emotional transformations can have a positive impact, now keeps my dog’s memory alive.

One key to having an old dog is to value every moment with them, to let go of your immediate fears or frustrations and see the finite time you have left together. When we learn to appreciate the little everyday habits of our close elderly family, those are the impressions that will return day after day when they are physically gone. This is something incredibly important whether we’re talking older parent or older dog.

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I am eternally grateful that my own dog, living her life, set me on this journey of understanding and growth. Our days together, to the very end, left me with immeasurable resilience to handle my parents sudden passing a year after hers. 

If you have aging parents and need some insight, look to senior dogs. After volunteering with the oldsters at Muttville for the past four years, I can reassure you that the teachings my dog started me on continue. Every week I feel lucky when I left my shift feeling like I had a Continuing Education class in the elderly, both human and canine.

And please, don’t let your fear of the eventual physical loss of a dog stop you from experience life with them. There are so many incredible unique lessons dogs offer, and in particular, older dogs. If you can’t adopt, then consider volunteering at a animal shelter, sanctuary, or senior dog rescue.

Read more of my thoughts about old dogs, and my own muse here.

Source: Heraldnet.com

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Discover why senior dogs rule: Fall in love with Soda Pop!

There is something extra special about min pins! These dogs pack full size love, silliness, snuggles, fierce protection and the sweetest sleepy faces in the tiniest body. Meet the perfect wee man to give your life sparkle and fizz, with a dash of romance...Soda Pop!

If you enjoy the finer things in life, have we got a dog for you! Soda Pop is a wonderful Miniature Pinscher with beautiful black and brown fur and the cutest little jumpy-wiggle when he’s happy.

Image from grouchypuppy,com
Add fizz to your life with Soda Pop!

What more could anyone look for in a best friend? Soda Pop is refreshing all the time, night and day. And these are the days, my friend, because this little furry friend has long legs for days … without the calories!

Who cares if that glass is half-filled or half empty? We only care that it’s Soda Pop! Isn’t it time to get your doggy fill? Fill ‘em up!

Image from grouchy puppy dot com

Come by Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco and meet Soda Pop today!

Learn more: https://muttville.org/mutt/soda-pop-7620

Here’s what this guys foster has to say about him:

Soda Pop is affectionate & calm. He has low to moderate energy & enjoys walks. Soda Pop is great with dogs large & small however, he chases & barks at cats/chickens. He is potty trained & does not go in the house. He will walk over by the door when he wants to go out. Soda Pop loves chicken & meal times! He also likes to sleep on the couch or a dog bed & will curl up on your lap if you let him.

Soda Pop is estimated to be 8 years young and 11 pounds

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Magic of Dogs: 25 ways and counting, dogs positively influence our life

Make it your new year resolution to discover the many joys dogs bring to your life. We all face stress from our daily lives, scary headlines, and even just the winter blues. How do we handle it and not get overwhelmed?

From my decades of experience, I often feel better about something, or feel closer to a calm outlook, thanks to a dog. It’s like their secret super power is having the answers to life, but they can only communicate it when we stop and give them a belly rub, or take them for a quiet walk. We have to slow down and listen to them and their special canine communication.

Whether you adopt a dog, or volunteer, their positive influence will be felt. 

Image from grouchypuppy.com

If you are wondering what the possible positive impact a dog might have on your life, here are just a few ways (okay, 25 ways and counting!) dogs add color, purpose and dimension to our life:

  1. They think you’re the best cook
  2. They don’t care about your weight
  3. Feeling a dog lean against you in complete trust makes you feel like you can conquer anything
  4. Five minutes or fifty, they miss you
  5. They forgive quickly and completely
  6. You will learn to nap again and feel good about it
  7. They don’t care if you exercise only that you play with them
  8. When you adopt a dog you get to remind them that they are loved
  9. A dog choking is the best alarm clock
  10. They make you feel like you won the lottery
  11. They keep your secrets
  12. They lower your blood pressure
  13. You exercise more without realizing it
  14. You meet your neighbors
  15. They are good at answering the door for you
  16. They don’t care about your bad breath
  17. Regular walks with your dog burns calories
  18. When you adopt a dog you get to make their final chapter the best
  19. A dog can save you money on therapists by focusing you on what’s important
  20. They know the secret to living in the moment and will teach you
  21. Spending quiet time with a dog can heal your heart
  22. Adopting an older dog can teach you patience and show you how to age gracefully
  23. Dogs don’t judge you
  24. They don’t mind if you use them as a reason to say no to an invitation
  25. You get to know and feel pure love, without reservation.

These are some of the reasons why I believe the human animal bond, and dog human bond, is real, and it’s spectacular!

It’s a new year and a natural time to take stock of your life. If you love dogs, be assured having one increases the quality of your life exponentially.

Consider adopting from your local shelter, or volunteering with your closest animal rescue. If you can’t volunteer, find a cuddle club! It’s about having dogs in your life and letting them work their magic!

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Timeless Gifts From Dogs: Peace, Love and Snuggles

When year end and holiday gatherings start to add stress more than joy, consider this message from (wo)man’s best friend. 

A Timeless Gift from Dogs

Image from grouchypuppy.com
Timeless Gifts From Dogs: Peace, Love, Snuggles 

Slow down, and embrace your inner stillness. Let the love flow from your favorite furry friends, in exchange for your quietude. There have many times during my volunteer shift at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue where a dog has been my guide to having a meaningful day.

It’s okay, even encouraged, to turn down the volume of the day. Let yourself savor a simple snuggle, whether it is long and luxurious or sweetly brief.

The gift of peace

Open your eyes and heart to a pup’s perspective. Your time together doesn’t have to only be about play, and rushing about. 

Take each moment as it presents itself. Appreciate the gift of time together. These are the important memories you will carry throughout the new year.

 

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10 uplifting words you will surely find in your vocabulary thanks to 🐶 dogs

Celebrating our Grouchy Puppy ten year anniversary has gotten us to stop and take a look at how dogs have positively influenced us over the past decade. When I look around at the dog books I have read, and the different dogs I have met, what came to me were the many words that have entered my vocabulary because of them. Between the dog books and the actual dogs, there are words that I find myself using every single day.

Have you ever stopped and thought about how a dog (or dogs) can influence you? It was only when I was considering how dogs have influenced me over the last ten years did I pick up on this vocabulary theme. I looked over old blog posts and other pieces, and saw certain words used over and over.

Image from grouchypuppy.com

When I look at the thousands of photos from the oldsters at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue that are still on my phone, these same words come to mind. Our encounters in the doggy loft inspire a word cloud in my head that I hadn’t recognized until now.

What stands out to me, that was a pleasant surprise, was how uplifting the words were. It is pretty wonderful to see how ten years focused on writing about dogs and volunteering with old dogs, had caused this set of uplifting words to become a part of my vocabulary.

Since we are closing out the year, and the decade, I thought it would be fun to share a top ten list. In no particular order, below are ten words regularly found in my vocabulary thanks to dogs. Do they look familiar to you? How have dogs influenced you over the years? Are there words you find yourself using more frequently that may have been introduced because of a dog?

10 words that you will surely find in your vocabulary (I hope!) thanks to a dog (in no particular order)

Inspiration

Love

Gratitude

Hope

Warmth

Optimism

Motivation

Smile

Goodness

Joy

What do you think? How many of these words do you use daily? What other words come to mind that we missed?

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Thoughts about old dogs, and a few special dog stories from 2019

As 2019 closes, I’d like to share a few dog stories from the doggy loft I visit every week on Rescue Row, in San Francisco. From my earliest years, dogs have been my favorite teachers, and best friends. This year, I’m particularly thankful for the optimistic attitude of dogs, in addition to their ability to be both simultaneously silly and affectionate. If I’m being honest, I’m still recovering from the massive invasion we had during the summer from Boston Terriers. Mostly though, I have finished many a volunteer shift with the oldsters feeling more inspired and calm than when I started. 

Enjoy these dog stories, and at the end, I’ve added a short list of inspired thoughts that came from another year helping in the doggy loft. Please share your own in the comments, and any special dog moments from your year, I’d love to read them - Sharon Castellanos 

Ay Chihuahua! Since I began volunteering in the doggy loft at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue three years ago, I have met more chihuahuas than I can count! They have been funny, scrappy, scared, fluffy, fat, skinny, silly, and shy. Boys and girls have expressed patience, frustration, crankiness and an unstoppable flow of affection. One little lady I met in January this year, Ginger Rogers, grabbed my attention and compassion all at once. She began her time with Muttville wanting attention while being left alone. She’d snap at people and other dogs alike if she felt like it. But she also could make you laugh out loud. I was on hand to help feed her breakfast several times and she would take turns eating, and lifting her tiny lip to snarl at me. When she was done, I would often be offered her butt for a brief soft scratch. This exchange brought me so much joy.

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Seeing her figure out how to be close to me, to show me her version of affection so soon, was heartwarming. Over many months, Ginger slowly blossomed, in her own unique way. I was on the receiving end of several tiny kisses, and a quick snuggle or three, before she fell in love with a member of the Muttville staff and went home. I’m so thankful she found a place like Muttville filled with people who gave her the chance and space to shed her worries and welcome in all the love and care she deserved.

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Fluffy dogs come in all makes and models. Having had the experience of living with, loving and caring for a small dinosaur, also known as a shepherd husky dog, I never really knew what Pomeranians, miniature poodles, papillons or corgis were all about. We get many of these dogs or blended fluffy versions coming through the doggy loft. Who knew fluffy dogs came in so many types and sizes? What has been a gift this year is getting a chance to experience these dogs. You get some really beautiful examples of true sugar faces from the darker fluffs. Also, I can’t tell you some of the funny expressions on these dogs faces just because of a little contrasting hair! If you ever watched Seinfeld, I’m describing some dogs who could give Uncle Leo’s eyebrows a run for their money. My dog had three layers of fur to shed, which gave me a chance to use many different types of grooming tools. I am happy to report that I have been fortunate enough to get a chance to have my share of brushing parties this year after breakfast, with many satisfied customers.

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The blind and wobbly. How endearing is it to have a dog get up and teeter over for some love from a stranger, first thing in the morning? I am astonished every morning I walk into the doggy loft and a blind or vision impaired dog works their way towards the sound of my voice and greetings. I mean sure, the smell of breakfast or the sound of metal food bowl would be one sure way to get any dog’s attention, but a loud lady chirping “good morning” and “how did you sleep” to mostly dogs she has never met, is a crap shoot for getting a blind dog to respond. All year I have been thankful for periodic reminders from these dogs to never give up, to persevere and to keep my sense of humor. They show me how to live each day to the fullest, and taking it slow is not a bad idea or anything to be embarrassed about. I love their joyful expressions, and appreciate their fierce displays of optimism!

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I am reminded this year that dogs are still one of my favorite sources of life lessons! Here are some thoughts and inspiration gained from dog encounters (mostly in the doggy loft) in 2019:

- Dogs are really good at teaching you how to take every ounce of compassion and affection that crosses your path.

- These incredible companions of ours show us what is important, and to move towards your goals one small step at a time.

- No matter how old or impaired you get, never lose your sense of humor!

- Don’t let distractions, like the sounds and smells of other dogs, get in your way. 

- Even if you can’t see exactly where you are going, keeping moving forward.

Oh, also naps are your friend, and learn to delete really old dog photos from your smartphone because no one needs over 15,000 of them at any given time.

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A final inspiring note from 2019: This adorable fluff came into Muttville and immediately showed us all why senior dogs really do rule. If you get a chance, stop by their website, visit them in person, or subscribe to their newsletter. You will read more dog stories and discover more about how to live life to the fullest by these sweet sugar faces and grey muzzles.

 

 

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🌲 SAVED FOR THE HOLIDAYS ADOPT-A-THON DEC. 7 & 8 💖 RESCUE ROW IN SAN FRANCISCO

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue is excited to join the San Francisco SPCA in hosting a “Saved for the Holidays” Adopt-a-thon Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8. Muttville will be offering FREE ADOPTIONS to qualified applicants to help these amazing mutts find their forever homes.

Muttville SF

Come on down to meet your new best friend!! They would love new forever families for the holidays.

WHAT: Saved For The Holidays Adopt-a-thon

WHEN: 12pm to 4pm, Saturday, December 7 & Sunday, December 8

WHERE: Rescue Row (a.k.a. Alabama) and 16th Street, San Francisco

WHY: Free adoptions and SENIOR DOGS!!!!

Image from grouchypuppy.com
Connie Loves Belly Rubs!

 

Image from grouchypupp.com
Hail Mary Loves Cuddles!

Come on down to meet your new best friend!! It is going to be an amazing weekend filled with lots of love, sloppy kisses, and amazing connections.

Learn More:

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

San Francisco SPCA

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Why adopt an older dog? Let’s start with these eight reasons...

Have you ever wondered why senior dogs really do rule? Are you curious about what life would be like if you adopted an older dog? Have no fear, we have a list for that!

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Here are some of our favorite reasons why having a senior dog is like fast-forwarding to the best part:

  • You get to write their last chapter
  • No puppy teething!
  • They are more likely to mirror the pace and pattern of your life
  • It can feel like getting a chance to love and live with your grandparents
  • They’re grown! What you see is most likely what you get
  • You have a greater sense at the start what medical and dental care will be
  • Older dogs are more willing and able to pay attention than puppies
  • They communicate directly and without hesitation what they want or need

There so many ways an older dog is perfect for city life or ensconced in the suburbs. With age comes clarity. Older dogs have less desire for the hectic or chaotic which is a wonderful respite these days. 

What makes senior dogs so perfect is how much love they have to give. They have a lifetime of love to offer, and in return you get the chance to remind them what compassion and empathy feels like. 

Please consider adopting a senior dog, and if you can’t, then look into volunteering at your local shelter. Discover what is so special about older dogs, and how time spent with them is just perfect.

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Rediscover the meaning of Thanksgiving with an older dog

It’s Thanksgiving week, a perfect time to share a series of adorable adoptable older dogs from our local San Francisco favorite, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue!

If you’re thinking about adding to your family, these sweet sugar faces are wonderful choices to consider. It is all about making the perfect match and that is something the folks at Muttville have perfected over ten years now.

 

 

Take it from me, after volunteering on a weekly basis with Muttville for about four years, older dogs are perfect companions in a million different ways! Every week there is one or more encounters with a resident of the doggy loft that leaves me encouraged, inspired and always feeling loved.

Visit your local rescue, or come by and visit Muttville Senior Dog Rescue and discover why senior dogs really do rule!

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Did you know senior dogs have a lifetime of ❤️ love to give?

When you get caught up worrying about the future, there is a dog for that. Consider adopting a senior dog. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by how much an older dog can get you to forget about the future and focus on the present.

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Older dogs are often skilled at embracing the best of each day. They have a roadmap for navigating the noise of life that I appreciate very much. More than ever.

If you could use a little furry yogi. If you need a distraction from the constant news streaming in front of your eyes, and in your ears. Consider adding a senior dog to your life.

Adopt from, or volunteer at your local animal shelter or rescue. There will be an older dog ready to show you the many reasons why senior dogs really do rule.

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Why older dogs? Imagine the experience of reminding them they’re loved 💞

Something I have discovered with adoptable senior dogs is the incredible feeling I get reminding these pups that people love them. That they are worthy of love, just give us humans a chance to show them.

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What I love about dogs is their ability to “let it go” as Elsa would sing. Who else do you know that can do this, at any age? Physically, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a big hefty dog “trust fall” over onto you for some belly rubs! My human family has to say their peace, and talk a blue streak, before they can come close to letting anything go. Our family dogs on the other hand, how fast can you say, “want to go for a walk?”

Trust Fall

There is something extra special about older dogs who are in need of love. It’s heartbreaking to see any older adoptable dog shut down. If I see an oldster in the doggy loft of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue with body language that says their love tank is on empty, then it will be my mission to take steps to lift their spirits before my volunteer shift is over.

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Wow 😳 It’s been ten years since an adopted dog inspired the launch of Grouchy Puppy

A walk in nature, an art exhibit, the autobiography of an inventive person? Where do you draw inspiration? Have you ever been inspired by a dog?

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Ten years ago, a big, older dog, who found her way from the country and into our hearts, inspired the creation of Grouchy Puppy. To many, this may not come as a surprise given how popular dog pages are on Facebook, in Twitter feeds, and how many dog Instagram stars and influencers there are today. However, ten years is a long time ago in dog years and definitely in social media years!

November 9 is Grouchy Puppy Day

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Do you know the face a dog makes when love overtakes worry?

There is a special look and expression, even a sound, dogs make when they feel their own rush of oxytocin inside and under the skin. I have witnessed this firsthand many times.

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With my own older adopted dog, there are many memories of her contented noises and sometimes boisterous body language. I will always remember the day we both knew she was home, permanently home.

The face she made spoke all the words we needed to know that she was unpacking, and letting go of any lingering doubt, fear or worry about us. We knew that our love, compassion and trust had filled every corner of her being, and squeezed out the tiniest bit of residual uneasiness she may have carried.

She knew she was home. She knew we were her home. That meeting of hearts, rather than minds, is a feeling you never forget. 

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How many roles can a dog play in your life?

Have you ever wondered how many roles a dog can play in your life?

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It’s amazing to me when I read about how people see a dog, as just a dog, when they are so much more. The roles they can play in our life is really up to us.

Consider the possibilities when you look at a dog, when you’re thinking about having a dog, or if you are ready to adopt a dog.

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Celebrating dog adoption, big adult dogs, and a Grouchy Puppy muse

On the fifth anniversary of her passing, and ten years after we adopted her from the San Francisco SPCA, I’ve written a letter to my Grouchy Puppy muse. November is a big month here. November is Adopt A Senior Dog Month, in addition to these two auspicious anniversaries. Dog adoption, and adopting a big adult dog in the city changed my life in such a profound way, it felt right to send a virtual thank you to the shepherd husky responsible. 

Dear Cleo:

Thank you. It has been five years since you went on ahead, and though we miss you every single day, I have gained so much insight about people and dogs since your passing.

Image from GrouchyPuppy.com
Best Big Dog Ambassador Ever

I am so grateful we chose to adopt you. Our life together forever positively changed my views on dogs, what you can expect from life with a dog, and I realize that loss is not something to avoid or be afraid of.

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